Base for the warping mill used by Anna Apinis whenever she was preparing a new weaving. It was made by her husband Ervins Apinis when they settled in Sydney in the early 1950s. It is used in conjunction with the countermarch floor loom and the unplying machine. Ervins was actively involved in helping Anna with her craft and designed many weaving devices used by her.
Anna attended weaving lessons in Liepaja in Latvia from 1930 to 1933 and had a loom constructed for her with wood scavenged from bombed-out ruins, during her time in a Displaced Persons camp in Memmingen, Germany. She used her loom to weave ancient Latvian designs using the threads from old scraps of fabric. Anna brought her loom to Australia when she migrated in 1950. She became one of the few suppliers of fabric for Latvian national costumes in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, and exhibited her weaving nationally. Anna kept her cultural traditions alive through her daughter Anita who continues to weave and is involved in the Australian Latvian community.
Wooden cross-shaped base featuring metal supports and a vertical metal rod in the centre. The base is painted burnt-orange.
Looms are symbols of artistic skill, cultural maintenance and universal female traditions. This loom looks like so many other looms, but it has a special story.
Anna Apinis was born in 1913 in Latvia. She attended weaving lessons in Latvia from 1930 to 1933 and spent hours at the nearby Liepaja Ethnographic Museum (is this the Liepaja Museum - which includes ethnography?), recording traditional fabric designs in her notebooks. Anna continued compiling these notebooks throughout her years in a Displaced Persons camp after World War II. Anna had the loom constructed for her by fellow (male) survivors of the Second World War. The loom was made in Memmingen, a displaced persons camp in Germany with wood scavenged from bombed-out ruins; Anna's husband Ervins used his engineering skills to draw plans of the loom. Anna painstakingly sketched and documented ancient Latvian designs from the regional costumes rescued by other Latvian refugee women. She then wove them on her loom with threads gathered by unravelling old scraps of fabric.
Anna was able to bring her precious loom when she migrated to Australia with her father Ernest, husband Ervins and son Erik in 1950 on the navy troop carrier, SS General C. C. Ballou. This was a blessing as her obsession with weaving helped to ease the pain of displacement and separation that she and her husband Ervins felt in their new land. As suitable weaving materials were difficult to find in post-war Australia, Ervins designed an unplying machine in Parkes Holding Centre in Canberra in 1950 where they stayed upon arrival. Made from cans, scrap metal and wood, he used the machine to unply balls of wool to make weaving threads for Anna (this unplying machine remains in the MV collection). Ervins was actively involved in helping Anna with her craft and designed other weaving devices used by Anna. In Latvia, Ervins worked as a qualified road engineer. After arriving in Australia, he was employed as a railway labourer, eventually becoming a rail-bond welder. He remained in this work until his retirement.
Anna became one of the few suppliers of fabric for Latvian national costumes in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, and exhibited her weaving nationally, at exhibitions and Latvian cultural festivals. She fulfilled her dream to keep her cultural traditions alive through her daughter Anita who continues to weave on Anna's loom to this day. Ervins and Anna had always encouraged Anita, to become involved in the Australian Latvian community; taught to weave at an early age, Anita shares her mother's passion for weaving. Anna passed away in 1997; Ervins in 1999.
A similar loom (now being deaccessioned) was acquired from the donor by the Museum in 1996. It had been displayed at the Immigration Museum from 1998 until March 2007. The two looms have very similar stories but, now that the original Anna Apinis loom has been offered to the Museum (which had remained in use by the donor until recently), the decision has been made to acquire this one, and deaccession the other.
The loom was identified as a treasure of the Museum Victoria collection during the 150th anniversary in 2004.
Donation from Mrs Anita Apinis-Herman, 1/11/2006
Type of item
89 cm (Length), 90 cm (Width), 37.3 cm (Height)