Melbourne Latvian Folk Art Fund planning exhibition in March


Exhibition at Wool Corporation House during Kultūras dienas in Melbourne in the 1970s.

The Latvian Folk Art Fund was founded by the Latvian Arts & Crafts Association in Melbourne, Australia in 1975 as a special projects fund. Initially its aim was to help the arts and crafts association with expenses for a travelling exhibition across America. This venture proved to be a resounding success.

Later in 1996 LTMF decided to publish a major work of 300+ pages on Latvian folk art, titled Latvian Ornaments Alive (Latvju raksti runā) The authors of this work presented what amounts to a summary of their life’s work in Latvian as well as English. Scientists, archaeologists, artists, writers, poets and craft artisans contributed their knowledge gratis, making this work an essential reference book for anyone interested in Latvian folk arts.

From the early 1960s through to the 1990s this group of dedicated, enthusiastic and energetic Latvian folk artists, led by Lidija & Sergejs Beklešovi, Jānis Laduzāns and Arvīds Sodums placed Latvian arts & crafts in the forefront of many Australian Latvian Culture Days (Kultūras dienas) as well as other multicultural exhibitions.These were halcyon days for showcasing the heritage of Latvian arts & crafts in Australia. Arts & crafts magazines as well as other notable publications were published during this period.

Then, with failing health and no-one to continue this work, Lidija and Sergejs Beklešovi donated 13 crates of their life’s work to museums in Latvia. Beklešovs travelled to Rīga in 2006 to organise their last exhibition in June of that year.

Now, some 16 years on, the Latvian Folk Art Fund is preparing to showcase a retrospective overview of Latvian folk arts – an exhibition “Everything Old is New” on 9th, 10th and 11th March 2013 at the Melbourne Latvian House, 3 Dickens Street Elwood. The mission of the exhibition is to inspire and rekindle an interest in Latvian folk arts. Many exhibits are from private collections and will be for sale at very reasonable prices. All proceeds from this exhibition will be donated to the Latvian Summer School Dzintari to enable future generations to learn the folk art skills, which are such an inherently integral part of any Latvian’s cultural identity. There will also be copies of Latvian Ornaments Alive and Senais Mantojums available for purchase.   

The organiser of the March exhibition, Inara Taylor (née Beklešovs), hopes to rekindle a nostalgic interest, open a new window or spark a desire to not let the Latvian arts slip and fade into obscurity. Instead the hope is it will be built upon and evolve while at the same time retaining our distinct forms, signs and symbols.   


Four original board members of Latviešu Tautas Mākslas Fonds – Lidija Beklešova, Aivars Saulītis, Igors Dimits and Eva Brennere.


Rasma Celms and Lidija Beklešovs at the 25th anniversary of Latviešu Tautas Mākslas Fonds.