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Thursday 3 December 2020

Worldwide audience for cultural event

UCLan worked with two institutions in Kazakhstan to organise a virtual exhibition celebrating Russia’s ties with former Soviet republics of Central Asia

Central Asian culture has been showcased around the world thanks to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Dr Olga Tabachnikova, Director of UCLan’s Vladimir Vysotsky Centre for Russian Studies, and a group of undergraduates collaborated with students from two partner universities in Kazakhstan to organise an online virtual exhibition which celebrated Russia’s ties with the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

The event displayed paintings, decorative arts and fashion designs from the young students from M Auezov South Kazakhstan University, in Shymkent, and the Abai Kazakh National Pedagogical University, in Almaty.

More than 70 students from both Kazakhstan universities took part, and they were joined by audiences in Preston and other UK cities, as well as spectators from Russia and beyond as the event was broadcast live from Auezov University Art Gallery.

Dr Tabachnikova, Reader in Russian and Subject Leader for Russian Studies, said: “This was a truly global gathering. This stunning show of exotic art products in the national Kazakh style, including paintings, fashion designs, jewellery and decorated traditional armoury, captured the imagination of the numerous audiences, who joined the live broadcast from all over the world.

“The students of Russian at UCLan, who are used to intercultural dialogue and the wealth of extracurricular activities provided by the Russian Centre, were especially struck by the grandeur of this picturesque show and singled out this event as a highlight of the season.”

"The students of Russian at UCLan, who are used to intercultural dialogue and the wealth of extracurricular activities provided by the Russian Centre, were especially struck by the grandeur of this picturesque show"

Dr Olga Tabachnikova, Director of UCLan’s Vladimir Vysotsky Centre for Russian Studies

The exhibition in Shymkent saw the student artists provide extensive commentary on their paintings, decorative art products and fashion designs, modelled by 15 people, explaining their connections with their native land and the inspiration they drew from Kazakh history and culture, its rituals and traditions. This was followed up by a virtual display of paintings by the students of Abai University.

Speaking about the show, Barbara Miliou, a final year student of Russian at UCLan, commented: “The virtual exhibition of Kazakh art was so beautiful and engaging. I truly enjoyed the display of the traditional clothing by the students and the exhibition catalogue was very insightful. The effort put in from everyone was exceptional.”

Lauren Brierley, a final year Russian and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages student, said: “The Russian Society lectures are always of great interest to me, however this lecture was something I had never experienced before. To be able to view the brilliant exhibition of paintings and fashion from Kazakh students was brilliant and incredibly interesting. It was an excellent opportunity to be able to see the inspiration derived from their history, culture and traditions."

Charlotte Mawdsley, final year modern languages student (Russian and French), added: “I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition of artwork and traditional clothing and items by the university students from Kazakhstan. It was truly a privilege to be able to learn about their culture through their paintings and traditional dress. The students are extremely talented and I was in awe of their work. I am extremely grateful for them to have shared an insight into their beautiful culture with me.”

Dr Tabachnikova added: “The enormous work that clearly went into the preparation of this glowing show by our Kazakh partners is simply striking, especially now, in these challenging times, when many institutions reduce the scale of their activities.

“We really enjoy collaborative work with our multiple international partners which demonstrates in particular what culture can achieve when politicians fail. It is our intention to continue to thrive in the global multicultural environment and to strengthen our international ties.”