By celebrating the 60th anniversary of the VEF Culture Palace, we have prepared a true gift for our Palace and its guests – a newly reborn Souvenir room. It’s a room with a special touch of history, storing more than three hundred good wishes from all over the world.
From the moment it was constructed, VEF Culture Palace has served as the central place to host visiting foreign delegations following the visit of VEF Factory. It was also a place for fellowship and networking amongst countries, cities, cultural centers and between individual interest groups.
In 1972 a special room was developed at the premises of VEF Culture Palace. A Souvenir Room which exhibited gifts that were presented by foreign delegates. In this special room, one could observe the gifts given to VEF Factory and the Palace, as well as the trophies won by the amateur collectives.
Each year the exhibit was enriched with new souvenirs presented from numerous countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Yugoslavia, The Germans Democratic Republic, Austria, Bulgaria, Spain, Estonia, Romania, Poland, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Japan, Hungary, Cuba, Turkey, Australia, Ethiopia, China. The list includes other countries, many of which have now ceased to exist, or have unrecognizably changed. Each gift left by the guests is a symbol of friendship. These unique offerings are meant to represent the giver’s country, city, or area of expertise.
THE INTRIGUING STORIES OF THE VEF SOUVENIR ROOM
Photos by: Polychromovs
A painting given as a gift to the VEF Culture Palace by the Socialist Ethiopian Party and a government delegation in 1982.
Created in 1975, it depicts Ethiopian musicians in traditional gowns, whose proportions were stylized. One of the men has drums, the other one – masenqo, a traditional music instrument of Ethiopia, which consists of one horsehair string and a bow.
This gouache masterpiece was made on a leather canvas, with a leather string expertly securing it on a black wooden frame. The size of the artwork is 63x53cm.
A very interesting object in the Souvenir Room is a cast iron sculpture from Kasli cast iron smelter in Russia. The sculpture was created in 1955 by a sculptor L. Soloviev. The sculpture consists of a figural composition based on the story “The Night Before Christmas” by Nikolai Gogol.
The base of the composition is shaped as a thatched roofing of traditional Ukrainian country house. On the chimney stands a witch Soloha with a broom, ready to fly through the nightly sky; on her back the Devil with his hand raised. On the side of the chimney inscription in Russian - “Ноч перед Рождеством. Солоха и Чёрт” (The Night Before Christmas. Soloha and the Devil); at the bottom - “Л. Соловьев” (L.Soloviev)
Sculpture dimensions – 35.5x15x15cm
At the bottom of the sculpture - Kasli production probe and engraved year 1955, when it was made.
Two statues of czar of Russia Peter the Great have been placed on both sides of fairytale characters from Gogol’s story, both of which were gifts from Leningrad workers’ delegation to the workers of VEF factory. But that’s another story...
THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA
Another interesting object in the Souvenir Room is the pennant given by the Republic of Cuba to the VEF factory in 1960. With inscription in Spanish – SINDICATO NACIONAL DE TRABAJADORES DEL COMERCIO. CUBA (State Trade Workers’ Trade Union. Cuba) and UNIDOS VENCEREMOS (United we’ll overcome). The inscriptions embedded in an artistic logo – Abbreviation of the association are arranged atop of the red platter, adorned with the slogan of victory. Full form of the abbreviation is written on the side of a gear-shaped circle and in the center of the gear - hammer and rifle placed on the top of opened book.
After the Cuban Revolution, the USSR was one of the rare countries in the world that supported this new socialist republic, disregarding general sanctions imposed by the USA.
One of the products shipped en masse to the friendly Cuban Republic was the VEF transistor receiver “Spīdola”. Later, in the mid-’70s, the “Spīdola240” edition named “Siboney” was manufactured in Cuba (although Latvian radio engineers state that Cubans only manufactured the back covers of a transistor with inscription in Spanish).
To honor trade, military, and cultural relations, the brotherly Cubans expressed friendship with a variety of affectionate gifts.
This Cuban trade union’s pennant has seen better days. It’s been battered and has lost its initial glory; however, its importance and historical value remains unchanged.
Cuba is changing now, just like many other countries. However, its history still excites many people; Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, for some time now, have been global cultural icons.
The Republic of Cuba has earned its place in historical chapters of the VEF factory, thereof, the Souvenir Room is proudly exhibiting this gift.
Another interesting object in the Souvenir room, amongst others, is street light post model gifted by delegation of Kazakhstan, which dates back to 1984. The gift arrived from the town of Taldicorgan on the shore of the Caratala River, in Almaty County.
Until 1920s, the city was known as Gavrilovka, then renamed to Taldy-Kurgan (Талды-Курган) until 1993, when it was permanently renamed to Taldykorgan (Талдыкорга).
In 1984 the city had 106 thousand inhabitants, most of which were Kazakhs; it had multiple major factories, some of which are still operating and developing, as example - armature rod factory that, amongst other things, manufactures street lighting poles.
A souvenir, in the shape of a lamp, is a very delicate piece of work that shows both – good taste and design skills, and a sense of humor of the makers.
The model is designed on a metal base and covered with organic glass dome. The back side of the model has a hidden switch, which is still in working order and the lamp post can be switched on.
Inscription in Russian on the base of the lamp post model in gold letters “Kazakh SSR, Taldy-Kurgan, 1984”
Dome size 36x18x18cm