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Lögberg-Heimskringla

						Lögberg-Heimskringla • Föstudagur 26, juli 1996 • 3
Watching whales
in Arctic seas
off lceland
Concert offers first-class acts
'W!
'hale-watching expeditions
could become a more lu-
crative business in Iceland
than whale hunting" according to Ralf
Kiefher, a German journalist and pho-
tographer who visited Iceland recently
to take a look at the conditions for
whale-watching there.
Kiefner has specialized in animal
photography and travelled widely to
photograph and write about whales in
particular. He said that 4.6 million
tourists had bought whale-watching
tours world-wide in 1994 and that he
himself had visited many places where
whale-watching tours are offered.
He was satisfied with the condi-
tions for whale-watching in Iceland,
that they were similar to other places
where such tours have become popu-
lar. In Buenos Aires in Argentina,
34,000 people went on such trips in
1993. Travelling with Kiefner was a
German Tourist Bureau owner, Frank
Wirth, who has sold whale-watching
tours throughout the world and also
came to look at the conditions in Ice-
land. He agreed with Kiefner that Ice-
land had excellent opportunities in this
area.
Páll Þór Jónsson, hotel manager at
Húsavík, has assisted the two Ger-
mans and he said that whale-watching
offered new opportunity in tourism.
He was for example expecting two
groups from England w'hose main in-
terest for coming was whale-watching.
Páll Jónsson began offering whale-
watching tours from Húsavík last year
when 1,500 people bought such trips
and this year the figure will be much
higher.
tEÖORAH
>ATT£KSON
Deborah Patterson, Erika MacPherson andArne MacPherson
will entertain at the festival.
On Saturday, August 3, 19% at 8
p.m. at the Gimli High School,
the Celebrity Concert will fea-
ture Sylvia Richardson who may be
known to some for her lead role this
spring as Rose Maybud in the Gilbert
and Sullivan production of Ruddigore.
Sylvia has been studying with Carolyn
Mitchell for years. She has been very
busy also as an actress, taking parts in
many productions with the Black Hole
Theatre and also the Fringe Festival.
Sylvia was also a finalist in the Rose
Bowl Competition (The Winnipeg
Music Festival). She is currently em-
ployed as a drama teacher at Fort
Richmond Collegiate. Ross Houston
will be her accompanist. Sylvia's afi
and amma were Sigros and Hjortur
'Hjartarson oí Lundar. Her parents are
Christine and Allan Richardson of
Winnipeg.
Deborah Patterson's quick wit and
satire is sure to humour you! Deborah
has been called Canada's foremost
topless accordion player. This very
talented lady will be very familiar to
many Winnipeg theatre goers as she
has just recently been in Shakespeare
in the Ruins. Her musical talents will
be shared with you. She enjoys com-
posing her own music. She plays the
accordion, keyboards, bass guitar and
flute. Deb is Ame MacPherson's part-
ner and they have a charming, nearly
three year old daughter, Gislina.
Arne MacPherson is a profes-
sional actor. He will deviate
slightly by reading and inter-
preting. Ame will also be singing with
his sister, Erika. Arne, too has just
completed Shakespeare in the Ruins,
and this winter he was in Inquest,
Transit of Venus, Mr. A's Amazing
Maze Plays plus several others! He is
a busy actor! Ame numbers among his
skills a wide range of dialects, stilt-
walking, juggling, clowning, stage
combat, singing, piano, keyboards,
guitar, sound composition and danee
(tap, ballet, jazz and modern). Arne
took his basic education in Alberta
where he and Erika were raised.
Erika MacPherson works in video,
film, and installations. Just like her
brother Ame, she is very versatile and
creative. She will sing and play the
banjo. Erika is presently part of a
quartet called "Nipples to the Wind."
They do spoofs on traditional barber-
shop quartet tunes. Erika's influence
on the arts community can be wit-
nessed in the many facets of where
she worked for many years, the St.
Norbert Arts & Cultural Centre. She
organized many events and physically
worked on the restoration. Recently,
she has a video entitled "This is a
Photograph of Me" purchased by the
BRAVO network.
Erika and Ame are the children of
Lillian and Lome MacPherson of Ed-
monton. Their grandparents are Haf-
steinn and Lillian Bjamason formerly
of Winnipeg, and Regina and now of
British Colombia.
Looking for the hidden folk
By Gillian Johnson
At Vegmúli, east of the sports
hall in Laugardalur park, Reyk-
javík, where Bobby Fischer
beat Boris Spassky in the world chess
championship in 1972, is advertised a
"respectable school... that teaches you
everything about mysterious beings
like elves, fairies, trolls..."
A woman wearing a half-zipped,
quilted coat offers greetings from her
seat in the front of the Elf Schcol lec-
ture hall. "I'm Linda," she says.
"Magnús, the teacher, will be right
back."
Though we are the only students we
are not alone in the room. At the front
are a half dozen plaster-of-Paris stat-
ues that show the wear and tear of
winters spent in rock gardens. They
look a little like the statues you see on
the front lawns of cottages across
North America— brightly painted
replicas of Snow White's gang of
seven.
Incidentally, Snow White' is said to
have been inspired by an Icelandic
waitress who served coffee to a West-
em Icelandic cartoonist at the Weevil
Café in Winnipeg in the 1920's. When
the dark-haired beauty rejected his ad-
vances, the cartoonist went to Holly-
wood to work for Disney. There her
image  was  immortalized  as  Snow
White.
The guidebook tells us that the ma-
jority of Icelanders believe in the exis-
tence of elves. Folklore historian Arni
Bjömsson writes that one in every 500
inhabitants of Iceland is a ghost which
means that there are over 500 non-cor-
poreal beings living on the island.
Magnús H. Skarphédinsson, histori-
an, whale activist, vegetarian, brother
of the former prime minister of the en-
vironment and Elf School headmaster,
offers a crushing welcoming hand-
shake and provides more hard data.
"Only twenty-six per cent of Ice-
landers believe in the existence of
elves," he says. "But eighty per cent
do take notice."
He writes the statistics on the
blackboard and tuming to Linda laces
his fingers together. "Linda do you
have psychic ability?"
"No," she answers thoughtfully,
"but my son does. When he was small
he used to say he had another life."
"Yes, children," Skarphédinsson
sighs. "More than half of the stories
we hear are from children. Children
up to seven years old are psychic. By
fourteen they have lost it."
"Have you seen an elf?"
A smile hovers. "Once about five
years ago I saw an elf. He was about
this high."
On the Hidden Worlds Map that's
included on the EKR2350 (about USD
$36) Elf School registration fee the
Huldufólk are depicted by psychic
artist Erla Stefánsdóttir as ectomorphs
in human clothes. "Often colorfully
dressed...[they] are social creatures
who generally live very close together
and are often seen in large groups."
The least likable of the elfin beings,
according to Skarphédinsson, are not
the twelve-foot trolls, nor the dwarfs,
light fairies, mountain spirits, or lovel-
ings, but the gnomes, who are about
10 cm. tall. Though tiny, gnomes have
a fierce temper and can be somewhat
capricious.
Translators of folklorist Jón Ara-
son, May and Hallberg Hall-
mundsson, locate the Icelanders'
beUef in other beings in the long sub-
Arctic nights, the spooky landscape
and the saga literature. Edison, they
suggest, was probably the biggest
"ghost buster" in Iceland.
But if Skarphédinsson's statistics
are correct, neither education nor elec-
trification has wiped out the Ice-
landers' belief in the hidden people.
Some people treat them as respected
neighbors and friends. Family even.
When an elf or huldufólk family want
to move in, you can make room.
Skarphédinsson drives us to his
friend's garden in Hafnarfjördur, the
"town of lava," near Reykjavík. Dark
volcanic rocks line the edge of the
yard, rubble from the 7,000-year-old
lava field on which this town was
built.
"This garden," says Skarphédins-
son, "is home to several elf families."
He points to a black basalt rock. "One
of the older man elves approached my
friend with a dilemma. His daughter
was pregnant and soon their home
would be too crowded to hold them
all. So my friend imported another
rock. Now the elf family is happy
again. " We all smile at the household
extension.
There are few trees in Iceland but a
thick velvety green moss seems to
grow everywhere, including the black
rock faces of Hellisgerdi park, our
final destination. "A Swiss woman
was at the Elf School last week," says
Skarphédinsson." She had psychic
abilities. We were in this park for a
very long time talking to the elves."
Maybe if we look hard enough...
We squint at the rocks. There's a
slight movement — the rustle of
grass?" The wind picking up?
Skarphédinsson looks over at us as
we leave the park. "Yes, the Swiss
woman introduced us to many new elf
families..."
Gillian Johnson lives in Winnipeg.
					
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