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Martin Mörck, a Norwegian-Swedish artist, is the most productive living stamp designer and engraver in the world today.
Since 1977, he has designed and/or engraved more than 900 different stamp motifs issued by 28 postal administrations including the Faroe Islands Post. Mörck’s designs and engravings appeared on 46 different Faroese postage stamps and franking labels. In addition, he designed and/or illustrated the backgrounds of nine Faroese souvenir sheets.
Mörck is known as a true lover of the Faroe Islands. His first exposure to the Faroese land and culture came during his six-week adventurous motorbike tour of the islands at age 19. “My girlfriend and I packed a tent and rode on my motorcycle to Denmark to take a ferry to the Faroes. It was our plan to visit every island in the Faroes where we could drive our bike and we did so. As the Faroese roads in 1974 were nowhere near as good as they are today, it was a challenge to ride through long and winding roads. At many points, we had to take ferries to cross from one island to another as none of the tunnels connecting the islands were built at that time. In the end, it was an awesome trip that made me attached to the Faroe Islands with a great passion until this day. After this trip, I visited the Faroe Islands many times,” Mörck says.
When I asked Mörck what he likes most about the Faroe Islands, his answer was: “The nature is wild and unspoiled. The rugged landscape is unique and gorgeous. The climate is absolutely perfect for me. The people are very friendly and extremely grounded. The food is fantastic with great choices of my favorites: mutton, potatoes, fish, whale meat and sea birds.”
Mörck’s engagement with the Post started after he met Svanbjørg Manai at one of the stamp shows in early 1990s. His genuine love for the Faroe Islands made him very interested in designing and engraving Faroese stamps. His first commission was for the design of a set of seabird fowling stamps. However, the drawings for these stamp were left in a drawer and collected dust until 2018 when they were finally printed. The first issued Faroese stamp by Mörck was about Saint Olaf in 1995.
Over the years, Mörck designed and engraved many beautiful stamps for the Faroe Islands. My favorite Faroese stamp by Mörck is the 2002 souvenir sheet depicting the Viking voyages on North Atlantic waters. I consider this souvenir sheet as one of Mörck’s masterpieces.
What is Mörck’s own favorite Faroese stamp?
“This is a hard choice. The 2017 Faroese knife stamp is a favorite for me. The main reason for this is because I collect knives, but also the uniqueness of the Faroese knife design. I spent quite a bit of time in the Faroe Islands for this project. I looked around to find an ornamental knife to use for the stamp motif and eventually found one owned by Nólsoyar Páll in a private knife museum.
However, I think my absolute favorite Faroese stamp is the 2016 cod fish skin stamp. This is the first stamp ever made with real fish skin. The whole concept of this stamp was totally developed and proposed by me,” Mörck tells.
Mörck’s most recent Faroese stamp is the one issued to commemorate the 50th year of Danish Queen Margrethe II’s ascension to the throne. Queen Margrethe II is one royal figure greatly admired and respected by Mörck. For this reason, he put an extra special effort for this important historical issue. “After it was decided by the Post that this stamp was going to be printed on a souvenir sheet, we had to determine what the background motif was going to be. I wanted a scene that reflects the history of the Faroe Islands, surrounded with grass, stone and sea. After an extended discussion, we chose the St. Magnus Cathedral ruin in Kirkjubøur as the background and decided that the Queen was going to sit on the stone wall surrounding the ruin,” Mörck explains.
“The next step was taking the photo of the Queen to be used for the illustration of her image on the stamp. For this purpose, photographer Steen Brogaard and I had to go to Fredensborg Palace and conduct the photo session. During the session, I wanted the Queen to sit in a lower posture in a way that would make her look like sitting on a stone. I made a pencil sketch of the souvenir sheet motif ahead of my trip and shared it with the Queen to explain what I was trying to achieve. The Queen is a very intelligent person on top of being an artist. For this reason, it has always been my experience in the past that it was easy to communicate with her and explain what I want to do in artistic terms. After the session was completed to my satisfaction, I took the photos of the cathedral ruin scene and the Queen, and merged them to form the basis of my drawing. The end result was a motif that depicts the scene where the Queen is sitting on the stone wall and enjoying sunshine on a nice summer day in the Faroe Islands. I hand engraved only the portrait of the Queen. The engraved part was printed in intaglio while the rest of the souvenir sheet motif was printed in offset.”
Martin Mörck states that he has always enjoyed working on the Faroese stamps and appreciated very much all the artistic freedom provided to him by Svanbjørg Manai. He is looking forward to designing and engraving many more stamps for the Faroe Islands in the future.