This conceptual installation artwork is informed by artist Zoe Milner’s experiences as a deaf person.
The work uses hand-drawn typography to teach people about British Sign Language (BSL), a gestural language. BSL is Zoe’s first language. It has its own set of words, grammatical structure and syntax. When Zoe writes she is translating her first language, BSL, into her second language, English.
Zoe hopes to inspire the deaf community, and other disabled people, to express pride in their identity.
The artist explains:
I feel deaf representation is important and this bursary gives me an opportunity to raise awareness. It is important people understand our perspective: the discrimination and audism deaf society faces. I want to expose some of the things people don’t know about my community: deaf education, the history of sign language. I’d like people to learn what deaf culture looks like.
As part of City Arts’ RESIDENCE project, Zoe was awarded a bursary by a panel of D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent creatives. She created the work during a residency at City Arts in Hockley, Nottingham.
About the artist
Zoe Milner is an artist and activist. She is currently studying for an undergraduate degree at Nottingham Trent University. She was born profoundly deaf, to a hearing family. Her family learnt British Sign Language so they could to communicate with her throughout childhood. Having struggled for two years in mainstream primary schools, she moved to a deaf school. She has failed GCSE English language three-times. This is despite high achievement in other subjects. Through her practice she seeks to address the struggle she, and most other profoundly deaf people, have with writing and reading English. She does this whilst celebrating the power, beauty and freedom of sign language.
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