Martin Mörck is the name of one the best qualified engravers in the world. He is likely to leave a considerable legacy when he puts his burin down and his microscope on the shelf. A few years ago, Martin Mörck was charged with the important commission of teaching ten Chinese students the time-consuming process of creating a hand-engraved, steel-plate printed stamp – an original artwork in the smallest possible format.
For the 2014 stamp year, Åland Post announced a design competition among Martin Mörck's students in Beijing. 2015 is the Year of the Sheep according to the Chinese zodiac. The commission for the students from the Chinese capital city was to create a miniature sheet featuring Åland sheep. Quite a challenging commission, as it turned out:
"It wasn't easy to find the right feeling. None of the students had any idea of the existence of Åland. We searched on Google Earth to locate it," Martin tells.
"The students found it difficult to know what was important to feature together with the sheep. Should they depict the colours of the flag in the background? Or the Bomarsund fortress? Should the style be Chinese or European?"
The winners of the design competition are Hao Ou and Liu Bo. Hao Ou is an experienced engraver, in fact, the first female engraver in China. She was chosen to organize the work of the team since she has already designed many stamps. They each produced sketches after which the best one was chosen as their contribution.
"The windmill is a characteristic feature of Ålan so we wanted to depict it together with the sheep. The water-colour technique makes the illustration relaxed and peaceful," Hao Ou explains. Thanks to their pre-studies for the work at hand, the students have now formed a picture of Åland, even if Åland is still distant and very exotic to them.
"It appears to be a beautiful place, full of warmth and love," Hao Ou says.