On Peter’s Day, the Rothko Centre remembers the pioneer of Latvian contemporary ceramics, Pēteris Martinsons

On 29 June, celebrated in Latvia as Peter’s Day, Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre remembers the internationally acclaimed Latvian ceramicist Pēteris Martinsons, who was born in Daugavpils and pioneered Latvian contemporary ceramics.

Pēteris Martinsons’s earliest childhood memories are tied with Daugavpils, where he spent the first thirteen years of his life and had his first experience with clay.

In 2013, Pēteris Martinsons symbolically returned to Daugavpils, donating to the newly created Mark Rothko art centre a retrospective selection of his life’s work. It became the centre’s first memorial collection, and its building continues to the present day. Owing to valued donations from his family, friends and associates and some targeted purchases, the Rothko Centre currently holds more than half a thousand ceramic works by Pēteris Martinsons in a variety of materials and techniques, as well as some of his personal archives.

By way of acknowledging the contribution of this outstanding ceramic artist and educator to the medium of ceramic art, an ambitious project was announced seven years ago – to make a memorial home in the name of Pēteris Martinsons to hold his artwork and spread the story of its creator.

In the spring of 2020, owing to project No. LV-RU-002 “Conservation and Promotion of Cultural and Historical Heritage in Latvia and Russia” (LV-RU HERITAGE) implemented within the framework of the Latvia-Russia cross-border cooperation programme 2014-2020 by Development Department of Daugavpils City Council, restoration and adaptation works began in the powder magazine of bastion No. 7 of Daugavpils Fortress, 1 Nikolaja Street, to transform it into a new exhibition sector for the Mark Rothko Art Centre (“Pēteris Martinsons Gallery”), accompanied by improvements of adjacent territory to set up recreational and artisan trading areas, and a children’s playground. The building is currently under active renovation, so that in about a year, marking the ninetieth anniversary since the birth of Pēteris Martinsons, his art may be viewed in a permanent display.

Up to now and in the future, the name of Pēteris Martinsons has been and will be celebrated in the concept of the juried exhibition “MARTINSONS AWARD” of the Latvia Ceramics Biennale, in countless collection exhibitions nationally and abroad, in the annual firing of the Peter’s Day kiln and by inviting present-day ceramicists to continue their artistic pursuits in terms of material and form.