Václav Havel, the human rights activist and former President of Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic who died last year, is to be honoured by Amnesty International at the unveiling of a specially designed tapestry in Prague this weekend.
The tapestry, designed by Czech artist Petr Sís and woven by master weavers in Aubusson, France, was unveiled during a ceremony at the recently renamed Václav Havel Airport in the Czech capital on Sunday afternoon.
“This magnificent tapestry is a permanent memorial and reminder of the central role played by Václav Havel in restoring, promoting and protecting human rights in Europe and all over the world,” said Bill Shipsey founder of Art for Amnesty.
The art work was conceived by Shipsey on behalf of Amnesty International and supported by five world famous musicians – Bono and The Edge from U2, Peter Gabriel, Sting and Yoko Ono Lennon.
The tapestry, measuring 5 x 4.25m, was been donated to the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation for display in the airport's Terminal 2.
The five musicians, all long time supporters of Václav Havel, funded the CZK 1.5 million cost of the tapestry.
“Few writers follow their words as they leave the page and become actions. The cost of public service is great for anyone. For an artist to purposely ignore his own literary voice, to serve all the other voices that can make democracy such a cacophony on occasion, is bewildering to me," said Bono
"But out of that noise, Václav's musical ear found a clear melody to inspire a complex people. His influence is all around us and this work gives an important permanent reminder, fittingly by his countryman Peter Sís and in his home town.”
Vaclav Havel died on 18 December 2011 at the age of 75. A playwright, he led the former Czechoslovakia’s dissident human rights movement Charter 77, and was repeatedly jailed by the Communist government.
He was ‘adopted’ by Amnesty International as a “prisoner of conscience” when he was imprisoned in the 1970s and 1980s.
In 2003 he was the first to be awarded the prestigious Amnesty International “Ambassador of Conscience” Award.