Baltic Amber in Rome

Baltic Amber in Rome
21-12-2012 A+ A-
From 11 to December 16, Rome’s National Etruscan Museum (officially called Villa Giulia) hosted a Baltic week marking Amber: Amber Light: Discovering the Amber Countries Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia. During Rome’s Amber week, Rīga 2014 surprised Italians with an art installation of amber threads, similarly, a book on the Baltic Amber Road to Byzantium was launched.

At the exhibition, held under the auspices of Baltic Amber week, artist Iveta Vecenāne represented Latvia with her installation What else does amber have in mind? which is a true collaboration between art and science. The artist works with amber filaments or threads created by RTU researcher Dr Inga Ļašenko using up-to-the-minute high technology. The installation is an imaginative representation of the amber filament production process and features the European patent for the amber filament.

The installation conceptually displays the Baltic Amber Road from ancient times to the present day, connecting the past with the future, as well as revealing the miracle of amber thread creation. As the artist says, “I placed the spool of amber thread on the throne”. A historical scene is presented through a belt created with the ancient celaine technique, the end not being completed as if encouraging travellers to continue their journey and seek answers to questions about the Amber Road, while contemporary amber – myriads of amber threads – encircle the refined amber granules and powders from which the thread is produced. Textile samples have also been woven from the thread and the artist utilises them to bring to life foaming waves and their white crests. The installation is distinguished by the freshness of its subject, lightness, purity and the elegance of its simplicity.

Marvelling at the Latvian scientist’s invention and the artist’s work, visitors can actually handle the amber thread, so experiencing its silky texture for themselves. This work will be displayed in Rome until March. The Lithuanian and Estonian artists showed contemporary amber jewellery. The Director of the Etruscan Museum, expressing her delight to Iveta Vecenāne, said that this contemporary Latvian view of amber textile art was certain to attract additional visitors to the museum.

Representatives of the P. Stradiņš Museum – director Edīte Bērziņa and Dr Juris Salaks – had also come to Rome. Under the 2014 programme in Rīga, visitors will be able to wander along the Amber Road by visiting five different museums. The P. Stradiņš Medical Museum will focus on the role and application of Baltic amber in health and medicine, consequently the museum representatives viewed exhibits in the Etruscan and other Rome museums which, in collaboration with their Italian colleagues, they could put on view in Rīga.

Meanwhile, Director of Rīga Bourse Museum Daiga Upeniece, at the behest of the Latvian National Museum of Art, was visiting Italy’s Basilicata region to view works in the Potenza and other Basilicata region museums as potential exhibits for the Rīga Bourse Museum exhibition.

A particularly special event was the launch of the book by Professor Māra Kalniņš: The Ancient Amber Road: Journeys from Rīga to Byzantium. Published in English by the Pētergailis publishing house, the book will also be available in Latvian by the end of the year. The book is a component of the project cycle dedicated to Baltic amber and is a part of Rīga’s programme as a 2014 European Capital of Culture.

The book is the outcome of Professor Māra Kalniņš lifelong research and travel impressions about Baltic amber’s journeys across the world and the professor wrote it in parallel with her work teaching English literature at Cambridge University.


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