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Queen Sonja Print Award 2022

Speech given by Her Majesty The Queen at the Queen Sonja Print Award at MUNCH, 20 June 2022.

Distinguished guests!

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”, wrote Thomas Merton, Catholic monk, poet, and writer.

No wonder art resembles heart. Like a beating drum it runs through history, carrying love and despair, beauty and fear, death and life.

Art is essential. Art enriches us. Art is the core of life.

Dear friends of the arts,

welcome to Oslo, to MUNCH and to The Queen Sonja Print Award 2022 ceremony!

As in love, art is best when we can share it.  

We want to share what we see, to share what we know, to share what we feel. 

I cannot imagine anything better than graphic art as a tool for this purpose. Printmaking is a gateway to the wonderful world of art. It opens the doors – makes art more accessible, more democratic. It makes art a vital and natural part of life. 

There is no coincidence that we are here, in the new home of Edvard Munch, one of the pioneers of modern printmaking. He made it possible for many people to own a piece of his art. Well – perhaps not today… but certainly in his own time.

For many years, I had a dream of establishing an award for young artists.

In 2011, this dream grew to reality when my friends, artists Ørnuft Opdahl and the late Kjell Nupen, together with master printmaker Ole Larsen and myself, established the Queen Sonja Art Foundation.

The first award was presented to a Nordic audience in 2012. During this last decade the foundation has grown, as have the prizes – and hopefully also the global significance of graphic art and of the QSPA.

Today, QSPA consists of three prizes: 

The Queen Sonja Print Award, the largest prize of its kind, is awarded to an artist who has excelled in the art of printmaking. This award of one million Norwegian kroner, offers a grant to support the artist’s work, and a residency at the Atelje Larsen workshop in Helsingborg, Sweden.

The QSPA Inspirational Award is presented to a young aspiring printmaker. The award recognizes emerging graphic artists from the Nordic countries. It is awarded in collaboration with master printer Bill Goldston at Universal Limited Art Editions. The winner receives a grant and a ten-day educational stay at Goldston’s renowned printmaking workshop on Long Island, New York.

And finally, the QSPA Lifetime Achievement Award.  This award is a celebration of an artist’s career and lifetime contribution to graphic arts and printmaking. The prize was presented for the first time in 2018 and was then awarded to David Hockney. Two years later, Paula Rego was recognized with this award. Sadly, she passed away recently.

This year, the 73 nominees to the Queen Sonja Print Award represent a total of 39 countries from all continents. It is the highest number in our foundation’s history – a new record! The jury’s work has been impressive, and I am deeply grateful for the efforts of every member of the jury.   

Before I give the floor to the jury, I wish to commend all the nominees, especially the three artists given QSPA’s Honorary Mention: Januario Jano, Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Seher Shah. Many of the nominees are present here today. I will challenge every one of you to take responsibility on behalf of graphic art for the future.  

Good luck – and Thank you!

The foundation’s purpose is to support and encourage artists. Today, printmaking is experiencing a renaissance in technique and forms of expression. Graphic art represents ancient traditions and handicraft but gives at the same time endless possibilities for inspirational experimentation.

I wish to thank all of you for sharing my compassion for graphic art, and for supporting the world of printmaking. Many of you also support our foundation. Thank you! We would not have been where we are today without your encouragement and help.

Our gratitude also goes to MUNCH – for generous cooperation, and for hosting the award in these unique surroundings.

I wish you all a wonderful evening – and I hope to see many of you at the seminar “State of Graphic Art Today”, at Norway’s brand-new National Museum tomorrow.

And finally:

Tonight, we celebrate and award three outstanding artists.

Tonight, QSPA 2022 honors three persons that enriches the world of art.

Tonight, I am honored to present to you:

This year’s recipient of The Queen Sonja Print Award: Yto Barrada.

Recipient of the QSPA Inspirational Award: Meerke Vekterli,

And finally, recipient of the QSPA Lifetime Achievement Award: William Kentridge.

Congratulations to all of you!

Dear winners:

Art is essential.

Art enriches us.

You enable us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. 

Thank you so much – and welcome to the QSPA family!


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