The city of Kautokeino is far more than an entry point on the Norkalottleden..
Kautokeino - an important sami center
Kautokeino in Norwegian or Guovdageaidnu in Northern Sami is located in Finnmark County, Norway, and is one of two cultural centers of Northern Sápmi today (the other being Karasjok).
The name Guovdageaidnu means "Half way" since the place is half way between two traditional sámi migrating points.
Kautokeino is a centre for research and education with establishments such as the Sami College, the Nordic Sami Institute, the Food Control Authority and the center for indigenous populations. The borough is bi-lingual and both Sami and Norwegian are used on all official documents and in all meetings.
On the map
Kautokeino - hometown of a world-class galleryWhen we reached Kautokeino last May, I knew that the start of the Nordkalottleden wasn't far from a art gallery worth visiting, the Juhl's Silvergallery. What Kamil and I discovered is a pure jewel in the Lapland wilderness.
As well-explain on their website, the gallery was created in the fifties by Frank and Regine Juhls, a Danish and German couple. They were real pioneers who started their fairytale story with two empty hands in the Lapland wilderness. At that time, there were no roads across the tundra yet..!
Passionate about their work and art, they say that living in isolation, far away from large cities, fashions and trends was the prerequisite for developing their creativity. And truly they have succeeded. Their gallery even became one of the most popular destinations in North Norway.
It was profound interest in the life of the nomads that encouraged people from far away to settle among them. At that time tourists weren't even thought of. Gold- and silversmiths were unknown here. Because of their unsettled style of life it was difficult for the Laps to develop a complicated craft that would have required fixed workshops. Nevertheless the Laps had centuries old traditions concerning the wearing of particular jewellery which they acquired through trade. Driving the Laps' enthusiasm for self-adornment to greater heights and thereby taking into account the particular ideas of the Samit is still an important task for this workshop - the first of its kind in all of Lapland.
Inspired by the untouched and immense nature that surround them, the work of the Frank and Regine Juhls is now internationally renown and acclaimed.
The building of Juhls Silvergallery is in itself a pearl of personal architecture. Even if you are in a hurry, you should take time to visit and take up the friendly, interesting and free guided tour, as your stay will be so much more worthwhile if the significance of individual rooms and their connection with one another are explained.
I simply found it incredibly beautiful, well-decorated and peaceful.
Different rooms, different atmosphere for different collections.
In the fantastically decorated rooms of the 80's, selected handicrafts from the other side of the world are on display. For once, the visitor is presented with arts and crafts from a global perspective.
The gallery seems to be a small world of its own. This place has the rare ability to merge contrasts in complete harmony: the simple and the complicated; the familiar and the exotic; the old and the new; Nature and Culture...