As one of the Latvian Presidency priorities in the cultural field is to promote the idea of cultural and creative crossovers, these handcrafted gifts are being distributed to guests at conferences organised by the Ministry of Culture to "display the essence of these priorities." This week Riga is particularly abuzz with youthful energy as it hosts one of its centerpiece events among many others - the EU Youth Conference, which can be seen on live-stream on the EU2015.lv website.
According to the online news release by the Secretariat of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, the concept of a 3D postcard demonstrating Latvia's heritage, handicraft traditions and youth potential came from the Presidency team member at the Ministry of Culture. The design was created by the Latvian graphic designer Zane Ernštreite (NicePlace.lv) using elements of ancient Latvian motifs as inspiration – Austra’s tree and the symbol of the Sun.
Wooden brooches made by students at the Liepāja High School of Design and Art used the wood of the local rowan tree, believed by ancient Latvians to offer protection from evil.
Projects like this bring the school curriculum closer to the world outside, and in this case was a chance for young people to take part in the preparations for the Latvian EU Council Presidency.
The ide for the souvenir is to have a postcard made of recycled paper to underscore sustainability and Latvia's green reputation – the 3D element (the wooden brooch) can be removed and the card mailed to friends as a greeting from the Latvian Presidency.
Using the same concept of a 3D postcard, the Ministry of Culture also offers its guests another souvenir – “Sweet Amber”, made and internationally patented by Latvian artist Karīna Šišlo. The handmade candy looks like real amber and is produced using only natural ingredients. It is attached to the postcard depicting the Baltic Sea coast where amber was once collected for use in traditional Latvian jewellery.
In the video you can see how the Liepāja High School of Design and Art studetnts made the wooden brooches, from start to finish.
Also part of the Presidency souvenir package are the ceramic bird whistles described below:
"These Presidency souvenirs have been handmade by almost 40 different ceramic artists from all parts of Latvia. It means that every one of the little birds is unique. The clear sound of the svilpaunieks (ceramic whistle) tells the story of Latvian ceramic tradition - a craft perfected over hundreds of years that is still thriving today."