Australia celebrates Hans Christian Andersen 2005

Australia's Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary commemorations were launched in Sydney today. Australia is going to play a key role in the worldwide celebration of the Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary. This became apparent at a grand event at the Sydney Opera House this morning.

By on - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 07 March 2005

Australia's Andersen bicentenary year events, including Australian Ballet performance in Denmark
The Director of Public Affairs of the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation, Christian Have, introduced Australia's many bicentenary events. These include exhibitions, readings, theatre performances, TV-productions, educational programmes and a children's fairytale competition hosted by nationwide Australian TV. One of the major projects is a rendition of Andersen's fairytale The Wild Swans by the Australian Ballet, which is brought to the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation. (Full list of events below.)

HRH Crown Princess Mary and five others appointed Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors
HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark appointed four Australians as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors, namely children's book author Mem Fox, TV and radio host Andrew Denton, author Bryce Courtenay and actor Geoffrey Rush. Soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was appointed Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador for New Zealand. (Full details below.)

HRH Crown Prince Frederik also appointed HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark as Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador to Australia.

The ceremony took place in the The Jørn Utzon Room, recently renamed in honour of the Opera House's Danish architect. Two of his children, Jan and Lin Utzon, collaborated on the room's refurbishment. Designer Lin Utzon has also designed the official Hans Christian Andersen diploma presented to each Ambassador.

One of Australia's leading vocal ensembles, The Song Company, performed three Andersen related songs.

Unveiling of a new Hans Christian Andersen statue
Events then moved to Observatory Hill where HRH Crown Prince Frederik unveiled a new statue of Hans Christian Andersen at 12.15pm. The statue replaces a bust of Andersen that was erected in Sydney's Philip Park to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the famous storyteller. In 1984 the bust was stolen and Sydney's Danish community has tried in vain ever since to track it down. The new statue, a replica of one created by Danish sculptor Hermann Wilhelm Bissen in 1864, is sponsored by the Danish community and the City of Sydney. Present at the unveiling was Danish Minister of Culture Brian Mikkelsen, who expressed his hope that the ties between Denmark and Australia will be strengthened through Hans Christian Andersen.

Royal cocktail party
The eventful day came to a close when HRH Crown Prince Frederik and HRH Crown Princess Mary attended a cocktail party at the Sydney Opera House hosted by the Royal Danish Consulate General in Sydney. Danish designer Charlotte Sparre presented haute couture inspired by Andersen's fairytales (more details in this kit).

Pictures from today's events can be downloaded - free of charge - during the next seven days:
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For more information please contact:
In Australia
Finnesse Communications
Tel. 02 9929 6044
Satu Raunola, Director

In Denmark:
Have PR og Kommunikation A/S
Tel.: +45 3325 2107

Project managers:
Lise Knudsen, Tel.: +45 2486 0175, email.
Camilla Jensen, Tel.: +45 2486 0172, email.

Please find enclosed:

- Hans Christian Andersen 2005 projects in Australia 
- Profile of the Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors
- Profiles of the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation and HCA-abc Foundation
- Commercial collaborators involved in the launch of Hans Christian Andersen 2005 in Australia

Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary projects in Australia

Prince or Princess for the Day
From 14 January to 9 February 2005, a fairytale competition was hosted by ABC Kids Television where children all across Australia were invited to enter fairytales. 4000 fairytales were submitted. The winner was 10-year-old Taeyn Nositter from Perth. Taeyn's prize was the opportunity to attend the official launch of the Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary in Sydney on 7 March.

The Australian TV station SBS has acquired the broadcasting rights for Australia for the grand opening show of the Andersen bicentenary in Copenhagen entitled Once upon a Time... The show will take place on 2 April 2005 and will be featured as a 120-minute show which in prose, film, dance and music will relate the story of the life and work of Hans Christian Andersen. A number of short films created for the occasion will tie the story of Andersen's life to his many fairytales. Each fairytale will be told through dance and music and the show will feature more than 300 international performers and will be set in a magical world visualised and set to music by Jean Michel Jarre. The show will additionally star Renée Flemming (US), Safri Duo (DK), The Royal Danish Ballet (DK) and Ennio Marchetto (IT). SBS broadcasts to 7 million Australian homes.

Unge Andersen (Young Andersen)
A full length movie and two-part TV mini series on the young Andersen directed by Rumle Hammerich and co-produced by Nordisk Film and The Danish Broadcasting Corporation. The TV series will feature the young and vulnerable Andersen, who from being a self-conscious young upstart develops the dark inner narrative voice, which later was to bring him world fame. The process is prompted by head master Meisling at the grammar school in Slagelse where Andersen was admitted at the age of 17. Meisling was a control freak and tyrannical principle, who punished Andersen for his creative imagination by forbidding him to write and subjecting him to psychological harassment. Nonetheless, Meisling was highly intelligent, and Rumle Hammerich's production questions whether Meisling really was the demon he has always been made out to be, or whether he actually saved Hans Christian Andersen from insanity. In other words, Young Andersen deals with the birth of Andersen's authorship and lends entertaining and through-provoking insight into the young, vulnerable soul later to become Denmark's greatest author. It also renders insight into how Meisling's attempts to stifle the young Andersen's fiery artistic soul became his Waterloo, and how Andersen as a result of this showdown finally reaches his true audience: the inner child in us all.
The TV-series will be shown on Australian TV during 2005.

A touring exhibition
created by the Odense City Museums, which relates the life and work of Hans Christian Andersen, will tour Australia during 2005. The first stop on the tour will be the Tasmanian Museum of Art in Hobart. The exhibition will be opened by HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark on 11 March at 11:20 am. On 11 April, the exhibition will open at the Museum Prine River Shire in Brisbane where it will be on show until 20 April before being featured at the Queensland Museum in Southbank and finally the National Museum of Australia in Canberra in July. The exhibition is supported by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation.
For further information, please contact Jørgen Møllegaard at the Royal Danish Consulate General in Sydney at

The Australian Ballet. From 18 - 22 October 2005, the Australian Ballet will perform their rendition of Andersen's fairytale The Wild Swans at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen. The Copenhagen performances are made possible by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation. The Wild Swans was first staged by the Australian Ballet in Australia in 2004.
The Wild Swans is a ballet by choreographer Meryl Tankard and composer Elena Kats-Chernin based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale The Wild Swans and rendered in a personal and innovative artistic style that combines the classical tradition with expressive contemporary dance. The result is graphically visual and entertaining ballet. The performance is co-produced by the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Opera House where it has already been a box-office hit.
For further information, please contact Richard Ewans at

During the weekend that marks the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of the Danish storyteller, 1 - 3 April 2005, the Terrapin Puppet Theatre will perform The Garden of Paradise, which is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen.
The Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation has (via the Hans Christian Andersen Childrens Theatre Festival) sponsored the theatre's production entitled The Garden of Paradise, which is based on Andersen's tale by the same name. It will be featured at the Tasmanian festival "Ten Days on the Island" as well as in Denmark in connection with the International Children's Theatre Featival. Different kinds of marionette theatre are employed in the performance, including shadow play performed in a model theatre. The director is the internationally acclaimed puppet-maker Richard Bradshaw.

The Terrapin Puppet Theatre also performs The Storyteller's Shadow which relates the story of Andersen's life with reference to fairytales such as The Emperor's New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling and The Little Matchgirl. The Australian Terrapin Puppet Theatre is based in Hobart, Tasmania. The play will be featured on 1 and 2 September 2005 at the Peacock Theatre of Salamanca, Hobart, Tasmania. 
For further information, please visit

Robert Lepage. In January 2006, the Canadian director and solo performer Robert Lepage will stage his Andersen performance entitled The Andersen Project in Sydney. Robert Lepage has created a performance inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's visit to the 1867 World Fair in Paris and the fairytale, The Dryad, Andersen wrote following his visit. Lepage will perform solo.
All solo performances by Lepage have revolved around the juxtaposition of two worlds: Historic characters, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Jean Cocteau, Miles Davis and the Russian cosmonaut Lenov juxtaposed by a world belonging to contemporary characters, which often take the form of the director's alter ego - i.e. often young men from Québec, who are lost in a foreign land or feel lost and who are confronted by realms that at first seem frightening but turn out to be benign. Lepage will examine Andersen as an aging international celebrity haunted by inner demons, the feeling of being ugly, having a withered sexuality and death, yet someone who is also confronted with the dawn of Modernism represented by the glass and wrought iron pavilions of the World Fair - technical wonders that seem to carry the world, unlike Andersen's poetic universe.

Yet another realm is introduced to these contrasting worlds: A Canadian in Paris exactly one hundred years later, in 1967. He travels in Andersen?s footsteps in the opposite timeline.
For further information 

Penguin Books is publishing a new translation of 30 tales and stories by Hans Christian Andersen translated by Tiina Nunnally, with a preface by Jackie Wullschlager, British author of the much-acclaimed biography Hans Christian Andersen - The Life of a Storyteller. The translation has been published in the in the UK and will be published in the USA, March 2005.
For further information on the Australian edition visit or contact Robert Sessions at

Danish Centre for Children's Literature has devised educational resources targeting elementary school teachers worldwide. The aim of the project is to inspire teachers to adopting new methods of teaching in relation to Hans Christian Andersen. The resources include articles on the life and work of Hans Christian Andersen, suggested educational approaches, background material and a virtual exhibition featured in 24 languages. The material can be downloaded free of charge at the official HCA2005 web portal
For further information

Brisbane Libraries. Throughout April and May 2005, 32 public libraries in Brisbane will host a number of different Hans Christian Andersen activities including book clubs and pantomime performances. For further information please contact Sabina O'Callaghan or

Other Hans Christian Andersen related events
An exhibition entitled Hans Christian Andersen's Denmark will open on 12 March 2005 and will be on show for two months at the Out of Denmark store in Hobart, Tasmania. The store retails Andersen related products including illustrated books, maps and reproductions of Andersen's paper cuts.

The LightBox Theatre will stage family performances of The Ugly Duckling and The Shadow in Sydney in September 2005. For further information, please contact Nicholas Pickard Spiels Wheels Entertainment at

Funtastic Limited. Australia's leading publishing house will publish a selection of six of Andersen's fairytales. For further information, visit or contact Eric Huang at

Children's Book Festival. On 21 August 2005, the Children's Book Council of Australia will host a children's book festival focusing on Andersen. For further information, please contact Graham Davey of the Children's Book Council of Australia at

The Fascination of Fairy Tales. On the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, 2 April 2005, IBBY Australia will host a seminar on Hans Christian Andersen at the Tara Anglican School for Girls, Masons Drive North, Parramatta. The seminar will address the relevance of fairytales in the 21st century. For further information, please contact Miranda Harrowell at

Bookmark design competition entitled "Hans Christian, Odense, Denmark (1805-1875)". The competition is hosted by the UTS Centre for Research and Education in the Arts in association with the LEGO Educational Division. Entries closed 25 February and the winner will be publicised in March. For further information, please contact Professor Rosemary R. Johnston,

LEGO workshop: the LEGO Educational Division will host a workshop from 2 - 3 April 2005 focusing on Andersen. Storytelling, film and fancy dressing for children will all be part of the event, that takes place at Moore Educational Pty Ltd, 37 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds, VIC, 3039 Melbourne. For further information, please visit

The Danish Club in Melbourne, "Dannebrog", will celebrate Hans Christian Andersen from 2 - 3 April 2005 by hosting a number of different activities for children and adults alike, including fairytale readings, musical entertainment, and theatre performances. For further information, please contact Graham Davey of the Children's Book Council of Australia at

Joint Family Day at Dromkeen Museum of Children's Literature. On 30 October 2005, the Dromkeen Museum of Children's Literature will present a day for all the family with special focus on Hans Christian Andersen. For further information, please visit or

HRH Crown Prince Frederik appoints Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors for Australia and New Zealand
Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors are celebrated artists, politicians, journalists, businesspeople and athletes from around the world, who have been asked by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation to represent the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen. All are highly respected within their field and are acclaimed and credited for their contributions to the world.

The Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors are to help generate awareness of the bicentenary celebrations in their home countries, either by their presence at different events related to the 2005 bicentenary or by conveying their view of Hans Christian Andersen to the world.

In addition to the Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors, a number of Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors are appointed. The honorary ambassadorship is given to people who enjoy special status in their home countries as well as special status in relation to the Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors.

Only one Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador will be appointed in each country whereas several Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors can be appointed. The Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador would in general represent the royal family or head of state of the given nation. The special status afforded to the Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador applies to the Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary as well as the humanitarian HCA-abc Foundation.


Children's author Mem Fox
Mem Fox was born in Melbourne in 1946, but she spent most of her childhood in Zimbabwe, Africa. In the mid-sixties she went to drama school in London. In 1970 she returned with her husband to Australia where they settled in Adelaide. In 1983 her first book Possum Magic was published and it is the best selling picture book ever in Australia. Since Possum Magic Mem Fox has written more than 25 picture books for children. Apart from the children?s books Mem Fox has also written several books for adults. The best known of these is Reading Magic published in 2001. Apart from being an author Mem Fox is also a dedicated teacher. Mem Fox has been presented with many awards including "the 1990 Dromkeen Medal for distinguished services to children's literature"; an "AM in the 1993 Australia Day Honours awards", for services to the cultural life of Australia; an "Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Wollongong", Australia, in 1996; an "SA Great award for literature" in 2001; and the "Prime Minister's Centenary Medal" in 2003.

TV and Radio Host Andrew Denton:
Andrew Denton is one of Australia's most successful TV and radio announcers. Denton has recently raised in prominence, with the success of Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, which is taped and screened on ABC every Monday evening. Far from being an "overnight success", Denton has been plugging away in the entertainment and media business for over a decade. He is a rare breed, that is able to be both comical and "deadly" serious, in the same interview, if not the same sentence.
Throughout 1994-95, he hosted and co-produced his own late night, live chat show Called Denton, it offered a collection of offbeat interviews, satirical sketches, uncalled-for violence and topical jokes - perfect viewing for the whole dysfunctional family. In 1995, he also presented two television interview specials: "Andrew Denton Meets Kevin Costner" and "Paul Keating Unplugged," a surprising look at Australia's Prime Minister. Denton also hosted his own morning radio program in Sydney, entitled Andrew Denton Breakfast Show. A "Best of" edition of the show was broadcast around Australia every weekend.

Author Bryce Courtenay:
Bryce Courtenay was born in 1933 in South Africa and spent his early childhood years in a small town deep in the heart of the Lebombo mountains. Bryce Courtenay was banned from South Africa for starting a weekend school for Africans in the school hall of the prestigious boy's school he attended. Courtenay then went to Australia where he settled down in Sydney with his Australian wife. Until the age of 55 Courtenay worked in advertising, then he became an author. Since his first publication Courtenay has become a bestselling author. Among his works are titles such as The Power of One, Tandia, April Fool's Day, The Potato Factory, Tommo & Hawk, Jessica, Solomon's Song, Smoky Joe's Cafe, Four Fires, Matthew Flinders' Cat, A Recipe for Dreaming, The Family Frying Pan and The Night Country.

Actor Geoffrey Rush:
Geoffrey Rush was raised in Brisbane, Australia. He had his stage debut in 1971 in a staging of Wrong Side of the Moon with the Queensland Theatre Company. Over the years he has become known for his classical work. He made an inauspicious debut in films with the 1981 feature Hoodwink and didn't have his first major film role until playing Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night (1986), but remained a durable presence for the most part on stage with acclaimed productions in The Diary of a Madman in 1989 and The Government Inspector in 1991. Filmgoers finally took notice with his performance in Children of the Revolution (1996), which led to the role as the alarmingly dysfunctional piano prodigy David Helfgott in Shine (1996), which marked his breakthrough in film. Rush's astonishing tour-de-force performance in Shine won him every conceivable award imaginable, including the Oscar, Golden Globe, British Film Award and Australian Film Institute Award. Over the years he has made a number of fascinating historical portrayals, notably as Javert in Les Miserables (1998), Walsingham in Elizabeth (1998), and as the Marquis de Sade in Quills (2000). He has also played parts in such different films as Mystery Men (1999), House on Haunted Hill (1999), The Banger Sisters (2002), Finding Nemo (2003), and Pirates of the Caribbean (2003). Rush's amazing versatility continues to impress, most recently as the manic, comedic genius Peter Sellers in a 2004 biopic.


Soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa:
Kiri Te Kanawa was born 1944 in Gisbourne, New Zealand and carries the exotic blood of native Maori aristocracy. Kiri Te Kanawa gained legendary status almost overnight after her sensational debut as the countess in Le Nozze di Figaro at Covent Garden in 1971. However, in 1971 Kiri Te Kanawa was already an experienced concert and recording artist.
Kiri Te Kanawa is a familiar figure in the genre of opera as well as a much sought-after singer in a wide varity of musical contexts. Kiri Te Kanawa has appeared as e.g. Richard Strauss' Arabella, Mozarts' Fiodiligi in Cosi fan Tutti, Donna Elvira in Don Juan and Mimi in La Boheme

Commercial collaborators involved in the launch of Hans Christian Andersen 2005 in Australia

SAS - Scandinavian Airline System
Official carrier
The SAS Group is Europe's fourth-largest carrier and consists of regional as well as international airlines and divisions offering hospitality, airfreight, and handling, etc.
For further information

Rosendahl A/S
Rosendahl is a Danish company that produces design and gift articles of superior quality. The company was founded in 1984 by Erik Rosendahl. Today Rosendahl's products are sold all over the world.
The Danish designer Lin Utzon has design the official Hans Christian Andersen dinnerware which is given to all Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors.
For further information

Charlotte Sparre
Charlotte Sparre is best known for her luxurious silk scarves and beautiful handbags. In celebration of the Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary, Charlotte Sparre has designed a special HCA collection. Apart from scarves and bags, her designs include quality T-shirts for both men and women and handsome ties. Charlotte Sparre has also design a Haute Couture collection inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales.
For further information

Skagen Designs
Skagen, Denmark's norternmost city, is characterised by a special light which, combined with the harsh nature and the fury of the elements, has inspired and charmed artists and designers for centuries.
Like this, Charlotte and Henrik Jorst owners and designers behind watches from Skagen Designs. Introducing the discreet Scandinavian idiom into an international context. The journalists present at the launch of the Australian Hans Christian Andersen project where all given one of Skagen Design's Hans Christian Andersen inspired watches.
For further information

Jørgen Mernild Inc.
Jørgen Mernild Inc. is a Danish owned Auction House.
Since 1974 it has provided Danish and international Art in world Class. In connection with the Celebration of Hans Christian Andersen's 200 Year Birthday this Year 2005, Jørgen Mernild Inc. has created a line of very beautiful Bronze Statues depicting our famous Writer. The Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors appointed at the launch in Sydney all received a statue from Jørgen Mernild Inc.
For further Information