Queen makes artistic debut

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An avid art buff and collector since childhood, Queen Sonja, 73, has finally tried her own hand at creating masterpieces. Working alongside professional artists Kjell Nupen and Ørnulf Opdahl, Her Majesty has helped craft a collection of 24 graphic prints which will be exhibited and sold in order to raise funds for the artisan scholarship program she will launch next year. “This has been a life-long dream,” Queen Sonja told newspaper Fædrelandsvennen (FVN).

Queen Sonja and artistic collaborator Kjell Nupen hard at work. The graphic prints will be sold in order to raise funds for Her Majesty's artisan scholarship foundation. PHOTO: Rolf M. Aagaard, Det kongelige hoff

“I have wanted to establish a scholarship for young artists, but have not yet had the adequate resourses.” This will soon change, as she has spent the last year in close collaboration with professionals, learning various techniques and developing her own abilities. Her contribution to the collection Three Journeys. Three Landscapes. is based on photographs she has taken during a visit to the arctic archipelago of Svalbard in 2006. The pieces have been created though a multistep process of gravure or deep printing technique, and the results are colorful, abstract graphic prints.

Queen Sonja has an extensive background in art, having studied under various artists over the years, learning a variety of techniques – water color, gravure, earthenware painting, stained glass, wood carving and more. The 2001 exhibition of a selection from her personal art collection at Henie Onstad art centre, the museum for international contemporary art at Høvikodden, just west of Oslo, attracted droves of curious onlookers and was considered a great success.

Despite her reputation for having an artistic eye, this collection will be the monarch’s first attempt at exhibiting and selling her own work. After encouragement from both Nupen and Opsahl, both of whom are recognized and established artists in Norway, she decided to try her hand. “I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with this, and now I am throwing myself in the deep end,” an admittedly nervous Queen Sonja told FVN. Her collaborators describe her as a commited and inquistive student, who makes the most of the limited time she has to invest in the project, given her strict schedule of official duties.

The foundation, Her Majesty Queen Sonja’s artisan scholarship, was established early this year. Most of the collection has already been sold in advance through private collectors, friends and other acquaintances, and all proceeds will go in their entirety to the foundation, securing more than NOK 5 million (USD 908,000) in basic capital. Every other year, one artist from the nordic countries specializing in graphic art will be given a scholarship, the size of which has yet to be determined. The very first scholarship will be presented at Henie Onstad art centre on June 14th 2012 – simultaneous with the exhibition launch.

Views and News from Norway/Liv Buli

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