Herbal Tinctures

The ‘Herbal Tinctures’ workshop is an artistic interpretation of creating alcoholic extracts of plant materials at home. The first part of the workshop will introduce the traditions of making tinctures for medicinal purposes, while the second part will refer to collecting herbs or other wild foods in Latvia.

Although the tradition of making alcohol is wrapped in secrecy, research has been done for several years to document it’s making in the home. Whether it is called kandža or one of the other names for it— kandža, lerga, dzimtenïte, samogonka, lurcis or brendinš, its production at home is cultural and historical, and belongs to the intangible cultural heritage of the world.

Participants will be involved in making spirits homemade-style, using household dishes and plants grown in Windowfarms -installation. Using pre-prepared materials, participants would then learn how to ferment different food-stuffs, primarily fruit jam, from berries which can be foraged in gardens or fields. Following this process, they will add plants to the mix, which will create a tincture. During this process, Pucena will share Latvian stories and traditional knowledge behind the use of particular plants. She will also bring materials made already in Latvia.

We invite you to consider this tradition from a different point of view, not moralizing about the making of alcohol spirit as a social evil, but as a way to discover the inexhaustible ingenuity of people to meet their needs in circumstances where resources are limited! Every skill which makes it possible to use available resources is of worth in our modern circumstances.

Signe Pucena (LV) is executive director and programme curator of The Centre for Interdisciplinary Arts SERDE in Aizpute, Latvia, founded in 2001. She has gained her higher education at the Latvian Academy of Culture in Folklore and Traditional Culture, aswell as a MA in Cultural Management. Between 2000-2008 Pucena was project manager at RIXC Centre for New Media Culture, Riga, producing various new media events, festivals and workshops.

Since 2005 she has been participating in the expeditions and fieldwork research in the Latvian countryside, learning about the traditional cultural forms still existing in the contemporary age. Her creative and innovative approach to cultural heritage work with SERDE was recognised with the Latvian Folklore Grand Prize in 2007. http://www.serde.lv