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OPENING OF THE STAINED GLASS “With fervour for A free Latvia”

We are honoured and grateful that we had the chance to be a part of the team carrying out the idea for “With fervour for a free Latvia”. Our specialists installed a new piece of art in the walls of a building dating back many centuries; they carefully followed the principles of preservation of cultural monuments, thus executing the project in line with the highest requirements for quality, safety and artistic performance.

Putting an end to intense five-year-long efforts by architects, artists, engineers and other technical professionals, on 13 January a work of art, never seen before on the worldwide landscape of church architecture, was revealed to the public eye at the Riga Cathedral – the unique stained glass “With fervour for free Latvia”, dedicated to one of the most significant events in the history of free Latvia, that is, Barricades.

In 1991, Latvia regained its independence through a peaceful resistance movement. Doma Square served as one of the most important locations for the said resistance where people started to gather on 13 January to assemble barricades, make bonfires and protect their parliament. Five years ago (2012), society Ascendum and the Riga Cathedral initiated the project “My Cathedral” and announced a competition where everyone was allowed to submit their ideas as to the new stained glass for the Cathedral, dedicated to the Barricades, one of the most important events in the history of our free country. Leaving no doubts about the results, the competition was won by the concept “With fervour for a free Latvia”, developed by young Latvian architect Krišs Zilgalvis and artist Dzintars Zilgalvis. The concept had innovative and fresh ideas, anticipating the installation of a stained glass in the windowsill of the Mary's Chapel, serving at the same time as artistically highly qualitative glass sculpture.

The new glass sculpture “With fervour for a free Latvia”, already installed in the window of the Mary's Chapel and revealed to all visitors of the church as well as those passing by, has been designed as a testimony of our people’s never-ending fervour for a free Latvia. The stained glass is something unique in the worldwide landscape of church architecture – it is a 4.6 m large single-cast glass that has never been created before; furthermore, the stained glass can be seen from both sides and is three-dimensional; its visual effects change and depend on the location and brightness of the sun.

One of the creators of the stained glass, artists Krišs Zilgalvis, gives more insight into the artistic concept of the artwork: “Each part of the window has its own meaning and symbolism, together leading to a single composition. The composition is based on a flame. The flame has impressions of real-life bark gathered from linden and oak across the historic regions of Latvia, symbolising feminine and masculine strength in Latvian folklore. Four large windows symbolise the historic regions of Latvia, while four smaller windows remind us of the first and later regained independence as well as Easter and Christmas. Above everything else, there is a sphere symbolising perfection; moreover, the rest of the composition of the stained glass strives towards this sphere. It is all completed with 32 polished glass polygons.”

Funds for the stained glass were donated both by Latvian people and companies. “This is a gift to those who fought for the independence of our country 27 years ago and gave our generation a chance to live in a free land as well as everybody else who nowadays care for their country. It is a gift that will always remind us of how much we can actually do when we are united. It is also proved by the fact that the stained glass, along with the Freedom Monument, one of the most significant Latvian symbols, was created thanks to donations by people,” says Zaiga Pūce, the Chairperson of the Board of society Ascendum.

After five years of work, the stained glass is finally installed, and on 13 January it was consecrated by Dean Elijs Godiņš from the Riga Cathedral. “An idea for such a stained glass came to life bearing in mind that the church is something alive, and not frozen in time. The church, along with all the people, witnesses history, its twists and turns; moreover, the Barricades and the awakening closely relates to one’s faith – faith in freedom and everything than can be bestowed by God. Welcoming help from God is a crucial moment in the life of faith of our nation,” shares Godiņš.

MANY THANKS to the project’s team involved in creating this significant artwork/memorial artefact.

  • Stained glass ordered by society Ascendum and the Riga Cathedral
  • Authors of artistic idea: architect Krišs Zilgalvis, artist Dzintars Zilgalvis
  • Authors of construction project – LLC "JR Elements", Juris Rotčenkovs and Zane Deruma.
  • Creation and installation of the glass sculpture: Anda Munkevica and LLC "AM Studio".
  • Production and installation of the metal frame: LLC "RenDomo steel works"
  • Still finish, construction of internal glazing: LLC "RERE Meistari”
  • Building structure design expert: Albīns Skudra
  • Construction physics expert: Andris Vulāns
  • Stained glass installation: LLC "Re & Re"

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR PROFESSIONAL TEAM: project ambassador for all five years DIDZIS PUTNIŅŠ, Mārīte Straume, Roberts Vecums-Veco, Juris Grodņš, Eduards Krilovs, Aivars Kalniņš and Māris Ikerts.