Ambassador Brautaset's speech:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Norwegian crafts rest upon a great tradition. Excavations have brought to light some amazing objects from the 6th and 7th centuries. Jewellery and coins, wood and bone carvings, treasures from people of whom we know little.
The early medieval period – the 10th and 11th centuries – is closer to us in time and in terms of style than we may think. For example, the Celtic influence is clearly visible in the various patterns found on metal and carved wooden objects as well as on the great Viking ships discovered during the late 19th century. In English works from the same period we can find clear traces of Norse influence. This demonstrates that the relationship has existed between Scandinavia and the British Isles for more than thousand years - and perhaps for much longer.
What we see here today is another metamorphosis of the craft scene – contemporary, international crafts, of which Norwegians have become prominent executants over the past few years. It might be very international in style but it still has kept its reference to a distinct Nordic heritage.
Norwegian makers exhibit their work all over the world: In Asia, the US, Central America, Africa – and, of course, in the UK. This year, Norway marks the centennial anniversary of the peaceful dissolution of the Union between Norway and Sweden. There will be a large number of cultural events throughout the UK, including of course, Norwegian crafts. I am pround to see that in 2005 alone, there will be at least seven exhibitions of works by Norwegian makers in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
As you can see, the artists employ a wide range of techniques: from woodwork to glass, from metal to ceramics and of course jewellery.
All of these works were selected by our hostess, Yvonna Demscynzkca. I would like to congratulate her and the FLOW gallery on having such a wonderful selection of works. I have been informed by our officials in Oslo that the Norwegian Association of Arts and Crafts, a co-sponsor of the exhibition, is very impressed by the work done by you, both in terms of the professionalism you have shown in your choice of artists for the show, and the arrangement and publicity for the exhibition here.
With these words as a simple introduction, I would like to express a word of thanks to all those involved, especially Yvonna – but also the makers and artists – for the creation of a show of which we can all be very proud! And with the sincere hope that this event will lead to increased contact between British and Norwegian makers and other professionals in the field of arts, I hereby declare this exhibition open.