Lens-Artists Challenge #37: History

For this week’s challenge, Patti has chosen History. At first I wanted to write about Riga, the capital of Latvia, whose history begins as early as the 2nd century. But inspired by a visit there, I have chosen a piece of puppetry history instead – an art form very much alive in Latvia.

According to Wikipedia, puppetry is a form of performance that involves the manipulation of puppets – inanimate objects, that are animated or manipulated by a human called a puppeteer. The puppeteer uses movements of his/her hands, arms, or control devices such as rods or strings to move the body, head, limbs, and in some cases the mouth and eyes of the puppet. The puppeteer often speaks in the voice of the character of the puppet, and then synchronizes the movements of the puppet’s mouth with this spoken part.

The earliest puppets probably originated in Egypt, where ivory and clay articulated puppets have been discovered in tombs. Puppets are mentioned in writing as early as 422 B.C.E. In ancient Greece, Aristotle and Plato both made reference to puppetry.

This art form occurs in almost all human societies where puppets are used for entertainment through performance, as sacred objects in rituals, as symbolic effigies in celebrations such as carnivals, or as a catalyst for social and psychological change in transformative arts.

There are many different varieties of puppets, and they are made of a wide range of materials, depending on their form and intended use. They can be extremely complex or very simple in their construction. The simplest puppets are finger puppets and sock puppets. Familiar examples of hand puppets are Punch and Judy. Marionettes are suspended and controlled by a number of strings, plus sometimes a central rod attached to a control bar held from above by the puppeteer.

In Riga, we just happened to walk past the puppet theater, went inside and met – Alexander! A charming young man who showed us around and tried to explain, in broken English, about the theater and the puppets. These special ones behind the glass were handled by him alone. You can see him at work as a puppeteer in the poster shot above.

Some more history of puppetry

Many types of folk art puppetry developed in disparate regions of the world, and some are still practiced today. In Japan, the sophisticated bunraku tradition evolved out of rites practiced in Shinto temples. The Vietnamese created the unique practice of water puppetry, in which wooden puppets appear to walk in waist-high water; this was originally developed hundreds of years ago as a response to the flooding of rice fields. Indonesian shadow puppets are another example of a long-held folk tradition. Ceremonial puppets were also used in several pre-Columbian Native American cultures.

In medieval Italy, marionettes were used in the production of morality plays by the Christian church. The famous comedic puppet tradition of commedia dell’arte evolved in the face of censorship by the church. Later, the plays of William Shakespeare were sometimes performed with puppets in place of actors.

In Sweden there is no great tradition of Puppetry, but it still exists as an art form for small children. In Latvia they have several performances every day. For both young and older children – and for adults as well. Do you have this art form in your country?

Nowadays the Art of Puppetry is experiencing something of a real renaissance all over the world, touching hearts and minds and engaging new spectators of all ages. Puppetry is a unique cultural treasure, which invites you to experience such a magical way of art that cannot be created or substituted by any other form of art. The task of our puppet theatre is to introduce this special kind of theatre arts in such a way, that the wonders of puppetry world would find their home in the heart of every child.

Vilnis Beķeris

General Director of Latvia Puppet Theatre




Finally, some history of the theater in Riga

The early beginnings of the Puppet Theater date back to 1942, when during the war the National Art Ensemble of the Latvian SSR ( Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic) was formed in the city of Ivanov in Russia. From there originates a group of puppeteers, whose shows were watched by evacuated soldiers and Latvian people. On the 4th of October 1944 the National Puppet Theater of the Latvian SSR opened, run by poet Mirdza Ķempe and writer and translator Jānis Žīgurs.


Thank you to Patti for letting us share so many things, events and places of historic interest. Welcome to join in the historic tour! And please don’t forget the tag Lens-Artists so people can find you in the reader!




Thursday Thoughts – Looking Back

Do you sometimes look back and remember what happened the same month the year before? I seldom do…but thought I would try it today, as Totti’s birthday is approaching, and our wedding anniversary as well. But let’s start off with the strawberry tents – and a sculpture. Last week I saw the tents were up again – how I long for those strawberries!

In the header you see the last spell of snow on March 8,  2018. Not much this year so far.

Then, I had the privilege of meeting the world’s oldest blogger – Dagny, 106 years old. She was hit by a car this winter, but is still going strong… after a short hospital visit.

Totti turned 10 and my husband and I celebrated 40 years of marriage.


A memorable month – I wonder what will come out of March 2019? Milo is a new family member, and Totti will turn 11…Do you think summing up sometimes is a good thing?

Why or why not?


Tuesday Photo Challenge – Round

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Round

The world is spinning – round. But not much is really, really round, is it? For Frank:

Still, there are many quite round things that I really love…like Dalí’s art and his home in Figueres, Spain. And the Beehive in Kew Gardens!

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #35: Architecture

As Amy’s challenge this week is Architecture, I invite you to follow me to Umeå for a visit to a very special hotel.

The Grand Hotel in Umeå, by architect Viktor Åström, was built 1894-95. The facade is in neorenaissance. Close up to this beauty is U&Me Hotel, opened in 2014, by architects from Snøhetta, and interior design by architect- and design Stylt Trampoli.

The more than 120 years old Seafarers’ House and Grand Hotel in central Umeå has been exquisitely renovated, and the concept of historic influences from the seven seas is so unique that the hotel was elected World’s Best New Boutique Hotel 2014.

The whole interior is spectacular…

and some pieces remind you of a shipwreck.

The old Grand Hotel is closely connected to (a real juxtaposition) U&Me, something that feels a bit awkward from the outside – while the inside might be described as a smooth swim through a coral reef…

Thank you, Amy, for an inspiring challenge and the opportunity to follow in your footsteps to one of the new seven wonders of the world!



Lens-Artists Challenge #32 – Shadows

In the header, the grand Aqueduct of Segovia, Spain. A picture where you cannot ignore the importance of shadows. For Tina’s challenge this week – Shadows.

Shadow owes its birth to light.
John Gay

Even the tiniest creature/ thing displays a delicate shadow when there is light enough

And as you move, your shadow moves with you…

In the late evening… the shadows make us a delightful pair – the cherry tree and me

The fence, in Riga, Latvia – one of my favorite pictures ever

Some flowers look their best in the shadows of other flowers in my garden

The golden browns of the dunes become enhanced by the shadows

…and the trees provide soothing shadow while they thrive and reach for the light

Thank you to Tina for a lovely challenge, and a homage to the importance of shadows.


Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.

Junichiro Tanizaki





Lens-Artists Challenge #28 – Curves

Curves –

”In life, as in art, the beautiful moves in curves.”

Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Thank you Tina, for this week’s opportunity to admire natural as well as man made curves. They are everywhere – if you just let your eyes find them… Sometimes you have to look up though – like in Trinity College, Dublin, and The Long Room.

Antoni Gaudí – a master of curves

Rila Monastery, Bulgaria –

– glorious curves

In my forest – colourful, natural curves

Lava, and life returning – in curves

But no curves are as beautiful and complete as those of the koru –

A short Wikipedia explanation: Koru (Māori for ”loop”) is a spiral shape based on the appearance of a new unfurling silver fern frond. It is an integral symbol in Māori art, carving and tattooing, where it symbolises new life, growth, strength and peace. Its shape ”conveys the idea of perpetual movement,” while the inner coil ”suggests returning to the point of origin”.



CB&W Photo Challenge: Rocks, Boulders, Stones

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Rocks, Boulders, Stones

Thursday Thoughts – Christmas Market

Christmas in Sweden also means many Christmas markets to visit, where local people can put their work on display, and there is a lot of chatting and big smiles. This year we only visited one market, and came home with some lovely presents of course…

This young woman was a talented painter with somewhat a style of her own.

And there were even younger participants… mother and daughter sold flowers and decorations. Everything works out well when you are smiling!

Thursday Thoughts – We Must Make it Work!

My post from November 30, 2017, a year ago – I thought a reminder to us all would not hurt. What do you want to give your children and grand children for the future?


Every December I remember our month in New Zealand some years ago. Never have I been to a country where I found so much and so many to admire and love.

This is where our antipodes live, this is where I had one of my first penfriends, this is the country whose nature I believe to be the most diverse and beautiful in the world. And this is where Rainbow Warrior went down, sending many people around the world into an unbelievable state of shock.

We are constantly reminded of how much we contaminate our world, and the focus here in Swedish media, right now,  is the sea, the oceans.

Just like in Wellington, we can still bathe, swim and fish in Stockholm – but for how long?

I am a member of many organizations trying their best to help preserving our planet for generations to come. But right now, we receive news every day about all the plastic and micro plastic in the oceans – a terrible threat to all organisms-

So, I think again, with my heart wide open, about how much I respect and love NZ, its people and its genuine efforts to help the world stay healthy. Down to every detail… for example the artwork made for making us humans see and do the right things.

And these are only two, small,  brilliant examples out of many, many…we saw new examples every day.

Hopefully it is not too late for the world – but You and I, and all of us, have to do our bit, our part, every day – to save our enigmatic and fantastic planet. Start with the little things…don’t use plastic bags, bring your own when you go shopping. Don’t throw old medicine in the toilet, in Sweden we leave them at the pharmacy for destruction.

Can you say you try to do everything you can to help? I know I try – but I also know I can do so much more.