Vestnorræn handverkssýning í Laugardalshöll.


Valgerður Sverrisdóttir,
iðnaðar- og viðskiptaráðherra.

Ávarp við opnun vestnorrænnar handverkssýningar
sem haldin er í Laugardalshöll
20.-24. nóvember 2002

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests!

This exhibition, the "Vestnorden Arts and Crafts Show", is one of the largest projects in the field of West Nordic co-operation this year. Our colleagues in the Faroes and in Greenland, have worked with us in preparing it, and the collaboration and bonds between the craftsmen in these three countries, can be seen in the items on show, here before us. However, while the three West Nordic countries, share the main credit, for the exhibition and the work, that has gone into it, the organisers also made a point of inviting craftsmen, from other countries to take part, so forming a link with our neighbours in the east and west as well. This is the reason why this exhibition here today, includes work not only by men and women in the three West Nordic countries, but also from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Åland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Canada.

There are 140 exhibitors altogether. Because Iceland is hosting the exhibition, the largest number, 60, are Icelandic. The 80 visiting exhibitors come from 11 countries.

People today realise that our forfathers could not have settled in this part of the world without knowing their handicrafts, which have a long tradition and occupy an important position in the history of the Nordic people. Handicrafts were both a field for artistic expression and also vital for survival. Everywhere in the world, culture in the broadest sense of the word, has been based on the interaction of thought and practical skill, on adaptation to natural and geographical conditions, and on using the materials available, in any given environment, to make life better, easier and richer.
I mention this because our forfathers in Iceland, and other Nordic people who settled in these islands in the North-West Atlantic, discovered them and travelled to them in ships that they built themselves, and they were famous for their navigational skills in the Middle Ages. Without their craft in shipbuilding and sailing, they could not have settled here and developed the society and culture that followed after the settlement. And so it is fitting that the largest exhibit here, in a special tent, is the Íslendingur, the replica of a Viking ship, built by Gunnar Marel Jónsson using the tools that are also displayed with the ship. The building of this ship is a special link between past and present.

This exhibition is not only to celebrate the fact that our arts and crafts are based on a long tradition; it is also part of a more recent tradition that has been developing in the co-operative programme involving Iceland, the Faroes and Greenland covering technical skills and trade. Our three countries have joined forces to stage exhibitions in these fields, taking it in turns to host them and inviting the others to participate as guests – in Hrafnagil Northern Iceland, Reykjavík, Torshavn and Nuuk.

This show lasts for only four days, but the preparations have taken much longer and cost a lot of effort. It is very pleasing to see, that the organisers have succeeded in creating an exhibition of arts and crafts that extends from Canada in the west to Finland in the east. Furthermore, in addition to this feast for the eye, we have here also lectures and conference meetings. All this will stimulate mutual friendship, with the sharing of information and skills that will be of benefit to the arts and crafts and also open up commercial opportunities for the participants.

I should like to mention that 2 items from each country have been selected, and these are specially marked on their display, if the guests are interested in giving them particular attention. Later, the jury will be choosing one of these as the winning exhibit of this show and giving it a special award.

Finally, I would like to congratulate the organisers, Reynir Adolfsson, Thue Kristiansen and Randi Vang, on their success and thank them for their work. I should also like to thank the many societies and companies that have helped and supported this venture in various ways.

I now declare the Vestnorden Arts and Crafts Show open.


Valgerður Sverrisdóttir