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Norwegian nature in art form

Today, Her Majesty The Queen presented artwork inspired by Norwegian nature to an Australian audience, and His Majesty The King visited a training centre for the Royal Australian Navy. The day began with a meeting with representatives of Indigenous Australians.


Australia has been inhabited by humans for more than 50 000 years, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are among the oldest living cultures in the world. Some 250 different languages were spoken before the European settlers arrived. More than 100 of these have been lost, and an additional 110 are endangered. In 2011, Indigenous Australians comprised some 3 per cent of the Australian population.

There have been positive developments in recent decades, such as legal recognition of indigenous peoples’ land rights.

National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE)

Education and employment are among the challenges facing Indigenous Australians today. The National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) offers social activities as well as learning and development programmes. The aim is to cultivate talent and create opportunities for young Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

The NCIE provides activities along four pathways:

  • Learning and innovation: to promote creativity and enterprise and to develop young leaders;
  • Sport and recreation: to cultivate talent and develop mastery;
  • Arts and culture: to stimulate creativity and develop identification with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture;
  • Health and wellness: to motivate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to enhance their wellbeing and make healthy lifestyle choices.

King Harald and Queen Sonja visited the centre in Redfern, where they were given a presentation and spoke with representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about their current situation in Sydney. The King and Queen also watched a traditional dance performance and sampled Australian canapés prepared by students at the centre.

HMAS Watson

Following an official luncheon at Government House Sydney hosted by the Governor of New South Wales, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) and Mrs Linda Hurley, King Harald visited HMAS Watson. Watson is the Royal Australian Navy’s most important maritime warfare training centre, offering education and training in ship handling, navigation, combat systems and tactics as well as leadership.

Kongsberg Maritime has delivered several simulators to the centre for training in navigation and tactical operations. Kongsberg has also delivered corresponding systems for Australia’s Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers, which are currently under construction.

The King had the opportunity to see one of the simulators in action. His hosts had programmed the Royal Yacht Norge into Sydney Harbour for the occasion.

The Queen showed “Inspirational encounters”

Today, Queen Sonja presented her own artistic impressions of Norwegian nature at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. At a reception hosted by the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Ambassador Unni Kløvstad, the Queen opened an exhibition of her artwork inspired by her many encounters with Norwegian mountains, forests and coastal landscapes. In her remarks, she said:

“Some of the magical and inspirational experiences I have had hiking in Norway, you find on display at this exhibition: Like the mountains and coastline in Hamarøy and Steigen in Northern Norway, the woods outside Oslo, and the magical island of Spitsbergen. The trip to this island far away in the Barents Sea formed the artistic and financial basis for the creation of the Foundation Queen Sonja Print Award.”

The Queen also spoke about her own experience of art and the important role it plays in her life:

“For me, art provides a refuge. A pause from our strictly-organised lives, where we can surrender ourselves to the unexpected, to the inexplicable. Where we can be challenged and find recognition. Art gives each of us the opportunity to interpret our lives – and to open doors to closed places in our minds, perhaps places we didn’t even know existed.”

Australia is an increasingly popular tourist destination for Norwegians. In conclusion, the Queen expressed her hope that many Australians will find their way to Norway’s shores:

“In closing, I would like to express my hope that you some day will have the opportunity to experience the beautiful nature of Norway – and even the remote, exotic island of Spitsbergen. I promise you: It will be an experience for life!”

Tomorrow, King Harald and Queen Sonja will depart from Sydney and cross the continent to the state of Western Australia and the state capital of Perth, where they will conclude their State Visit on Friday.


King Harald visits the Australian Navy's training facility HMAS Watson in Sydney during a state visit to Australia 23 - 27 February 2015. Editing: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

Facts about Australia

Capital: Canberra
Largest cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth

Total area: 7 692 024 km² (Norway: 385 186 km²)
Population (2013): approximately 23 million
Official language: Australian English

Form of government: Australia is a federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. It consists of six states and two territories and was formed in 1901.
Head of State (2015): Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Peter John Cosgrove.

Norway and Australia enjoy excellent relations, and the two countries collaborate closely within the United Nations and the Antarctic Treaty System.

Trade with Australia is growing, dominated by Norwegian exports. There are some 2 000 Norwegian students in Australia, and an estimated 10 000 Norwegians live in the country.

Source: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


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