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Martin Velíšek’s Exhibition and Series of Lectures in Greenland

In late April this year the inhabitants of Maniitsoq on Greenland's West coast had the opportunity to become personally acquainted with Martin Velíšek, an academic art painter, who has illustrated the Czech edition of Knud Rasmussen’s Greenlandic Myths and Legends, translated by Viola and Zdeněk Lyčka (published by Argo 1998, 2nd edition 2007).


In order to explain the interest paid to Martin Velíšek, we shall go a few months back. In September last year, an economy, tourist and cultural presentation of the Czech Republic under the name "Czech Days in Greenland" was arranged at the Katuaq cultural and conference center in Greenland's capital city. A part of this presentation, which was managed by the Copenhagen Embassy of the Czech Republic, was indeed the exhibition of Martin Velíšek’s illustrations for the mentioned book. And thanks to the great success of Velíšek’s exhibition, it is now presented throughout Greenland; it has been in the capital, Nuuk, in Narsaq and in Qaqortoq in the South, and now proceeds to the West Greenlandic Maniitsoq.

The old church in Maniitsoq in which the exhibition has been installed

On 21 - 23 April Martin Velíšek and Zdeněk Lyčka held a series of lectures on illustrations and translations into Czech of Greenlandic myths and legends. The lectures were made under the auspices of the local museum with financial support from Greenland's Home-Rule and in cooperation with the Czech Embassy.

The Director of the Maniitsoq Museum, Tea Dahl Christensen, together with Martin Velíšek

Lectures with a powerpoint presentation and subsequent discussions have acquainted the students of the boarding school Maniitsup Efterskolia and of the Professional Fishery School ATI as well as the general public with the issue.

Martin Velíšek in action

Z. Lyčka, M. Velíšek and the shaman (photo Kristian Samuelsen)

The audience showed great interest in the Czech illustrations and Martin Velíšek’s other works and was also interested in issues concerning the translation of their national literary heritage into a language as far away as Czech. Thanks to Velíšek’s illustrations, many students learned about some of the ancient legends and myths for the first time in their lives.

Debate with students

Students from the Maniitsup High School

Students from ATI

Zdeněk Lyčka and Martin Velíšek visited the town hall, where they were received by Deputy Mayor Karl Lyberth. Zdeněk Lyčka informed the Deputy Mayor about the priorities of CZ PRES and in more detail about of the background of the exhibition and the series of lectures in Maniitsoq.

M. Velíšek meeting Deputy Mayor of Maniitsoq, Karl Lyberth

From Maniitsoq the trip goes to the towns of Aasiaat and Sisimiut. Symbolically, the exhibition finishes its Greenland migration in Ilulissat, the birthplace of Knud Rasmussen. Subsequently, it will be introduced in Copenhagen – in cooperation with the Greenland Representation Office. The Greenland House in Aarhus is another possible destination.

Martin Velíšek’s travelling exhibition contributes to the Czech Republic's increased visibility in the region, in which only few common interests and mutual relations prevail. The lecture series in Maniitsoq was the only cultural activity under the CZ PRES in Greenland.