Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Tapestry tribute to Václav Havel unveiled at airport

10 December 2012

Prague, Dec 9 (CTK) - A tapestry in honour of the late first Czech president Vaclav Havel was unveiled at the Prague Vaclav Havel Airport yesterday, shortly before the first anniversary of his death, in the presence of his widow Dagmar Havlova and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09).

The ceremony at the airport's Terminal 2 was also attended by Petr Sis, Czech artist living in the USA, whose graphic work served a design for the tapestry made by French master weavers.

The tapestry project was initiated by Bill Shipsey, founder of the Art for Amnesty International Organisation, who attended its Prague unveiling yesterday.

The costs of 1.5 million crowns were jointly covered by musicians Bono, The Edge from the U2 band, Peter Gabriel, Sting and Yoko Ono as a gesture of homage to Havel.

The tapestry of 5x4.25 metres has been donated to the Dagmar and Vaclav Havel Foundation. It features a flock of white birds shaped as a human figure floating over what is evidently the Vltava river with contours of Prague Castle, all on the dark blue background.

The tapestry will be on display at the airport for ten years.

Havlova thanked all who assisted in the project.

"I hope it will be seen by as many people as possible," she said, referring to the tapestry.

"My work has started a new life. It will be seen by the people who are travelling somewhere. They will stop in front of it for a moment and contemplate," said Sis.

He praised the French weavers for turning his "originally sad" picture into "this wonderful piece of art."

"I'm glad that it connects me with Prague and the memory of the president [Havel]," Sis told journalists.

Sis originally drew the picture named "Last audience" for the front page of the daily Hospodarske noviny shortly after Havel's death. It occurred to him to draw a figure of a man who is flying over a certain place in a certain moment, radiating love. That is why the figure in the picture has a small red heart, Sis explained.

Havel used to add the heart symbol to his signature.

The unveiling ceremony was preceded by the presentation of a film describing the tapestry's production and another film about the recent renaming of Prague's Ruzyne airport to the Vaclav Havel Airport.

The tapestry was unveiled on the eve of the World Human Rights Day and nine days before Havel's death anniversary.

Havel, former leading dissident, was the first Czechoslovak post-1989 president and the first president of the independent Czech Republic in 1993-2003. He died on December 18, 2011, aged 75.

($1=19.527 crowns)

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