TO MANY Slovaks, Norwegian culture combines the traditional with the modern and progressive. Norway’s myriad cultural offerings range from traditional folk art to contemporary design, and also include film, photography, music, and even traditional cuisine, which to landlocked Slovaks may seem exotic.

The Slovak capital got to see the travelling exhibition of Norwegian traditional arts and crafts presenting 18 Norwegian artists at the ÚĽUV Gallery in Bratislava in July. The exhibition featured glass, ceramic and metal arts and crafts.

Slovakia’s eastern metropolis, Košice, also got a taste of Norwegian culture this year. As part of the two EEA/Norway Grants conferences, Norwegian singer and fiddler Marie Klapbakken was invited to perform, but she also gave a public performance at the Smelly Cat club on September 24.

Another special musical experience was the concert by Norwegian singer Susanna Wallumrod within the September Konvergencie (Convergences) festival of chamber music.

November was a busy month for the Norwegian Embassy, as it organised not only its presentation for the annual International Wo- men’s Club in Bratislava (IWCB) Christmas Bazaar (on November 24), but also supported two Norwegian films at the One World documentary festival.

Norwegian cuisine is just one of the attractions of “Norwegian Day” on December 11 in the Town Culture Centre in Žiar nad Hronom.

Norway has been active in supporting Slovakia’s cultural monuments and heritage. Photos by Tomáš Hulík in the Heritage Reborn exhibition show the unique collection of Slovak cultural monuments that were reconstructed with help from the European Economic Area (EEA) / Norway Grants. The exhibition was first shown in Košice’s Bašta Gallery, and can be seen in one of the buildings reconstructed as a result of these grants, Bratislava’s Reduta, until the end of December.

“Norway and Slovakia have many commonalities in the field of culture,” Nor- way’s Ambassador to Slovakia Inga Magistad told The Slovak Spectator. “Folk dancing, national costumes and music is one area where Norwegians and Slovaks easily can communicate and build relations. The same applies to our rural and mountain culture, and building techniques. I also believe we can build further on the cultural ties and interest for Norwegian literature already established at the beginning of the 20th century by our famous Norwegian author and political activist, Bjornstjerne Bjornson.”

She continued to say that, on the other hand, the diversity and different cultural expressions found in the two countries can also be appealing to both Norwegians and Slovaks. “... By experiencing and learning about other countries’ and peoples’ culture and history, we also build understanding and bridges, not only to the past but also to the future,” Magistad concluded.