Lögberg-Heimskringla - 26.07.1996, Page 3

Lögberg-Heimskringla - 26.07.1996, Page 3
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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