Dr Kristin Aavitsland will give the Lindsay Fischer lecture in Kirkwall on Wednesday 12th in the St Magnus Centre at 7.30pm. This lecture exchange between Scotland and Norway is arranged by The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland assisted locally by Orkney Heritage Society and is made possible by generous support from the Strathmartine Trust.
Entitled 'Medieval heritage in twentieth-century Norway: Ideologies, conflicts, practices', the lecture will be based on Dr Aavitsland's biography of Harry Fett (1875-1962), a prolific researcher on Norwegian medieval art and national antiquarian from 1913 to 1946. She would like to address the theme of heritage safeguarding and conservation of medieval monuments in Norway in the early 20th century. In Norway, this field was very much defined by Dr. Fett, who also came to lay the foundations for the academic discipline of art history in Norway. In these fields, his contribution can hardly be overrated. Still, he was a controversial figure with many opponents throughout his long career. Through his numerous books and articles, Fett's was a conservative and critical voice in the public sphere, often on a collision course with dominating currents in the emerging Norwegian social democracy. Central to the cultural debate of the early to mid-twentieth century was the issue of nation building, and in this connection the country's cultural heritage was loaded with a large symbolic potential. In several cases, Fett's understanding of this symbolic potential differed from that of the political authorities, as did his arguments for historical preservation.
In my lecture, she intends to shed light on Harry Fett's theoretical approach to historical preservation and the ideological conflicts with his contemporary antagonists.