Art and culture
The sound of breathing may sometimes become music for a film. The wind that blows hair at the sea – song lyrics. A kicked road stone – a sculpture, a friend’s letter sent from a distant place – a piece of painting. Creation does not begin and does not end. It lives inside us, allows us to make steps that we wouldn’t dare to make, counts codes that we couldn’t grasp if not for the power of creativity. There would be no life without creation. There would be no Lithuania that we have at present.
Magnificent museums located in castles that evoke the country’s glorious past, and small museums that are nurtured in earnest by the local communities. Museums that showcase valuable art collections and intrigue you with the most unexpected exhibits. Museums that take pride in their huge archives, and museums that teach in the most innovative ways – the more than a hundred museums operating in Lithuania will astonish you with their diversity.
A countless mass of days is looking from every tower. If the brick walls caressed by many hands could talk, they would definitely narrate about famous architects and their pupils who travelled across Europe. They would remind us of the most notable schools and trends of architecture that have left an imprint in our cities and towns. The identity of Lithuania’s architecture is defined not only by historical situations, but also by people who lived at different periods of time, their perception of art, expectations, the dreams that were realised and those that have not been fulfilled. Their understanding of the living space, what they were proud of and what they wanted to show to the world. Starting with wood, stone and clay, Lithuania already built brick buildings back in the 13th century. The remains of masonry from that century might be found in the very heart of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, i.e. in the bell tower of the cathedral. Open to a diversity of culture, art trends and architectural styles, Lithuania created an extraordinary and unique face of architecture.
If art changes the world, it also changes Lithuania. In particular modern art. Our history of modern art witnessed rises and the golden age, numb silence and bold attempts to swim against the current. Charming interwar Modernism, the gloomy reality of the Soviet period, the masterpieces of the thaw and creative flashes of art reflecting the contemporary world create extraordinary art space that does not finish with museums and galleries. It takes you by the hand, involves and invites to get to know the fabulous world of culture.
There is always something going on here: if we’re not singing in the streets, then we’re visiting museums; if our sails aren’t catching the sea breeze, then we’re swimming in a race ourselves. We love good jazz, and we watch the stars at nights with feeling; we dance barefoot by the sea, and we breathe in the theatre and drink in the energy of pulsating events, positive emotions and community.
Even though we joke that for Lithuanians, modesty is a national trait, let’s not be modest – Lithuania is the land of theatre. It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when we would wait in long queues all night long for theatre tickets. Today there are no more queues at the theatre, but there are also no tickets available online to the best shows. Reserve them in advance and surrender yourself to the magic of the theatre. Because what is happening on the stages of Lithuania’s best theatres is magic indeed.
Everything in this world is changing, but it’s nice that some things are not. The people who have kept the secrets of their family’s craft for centuries are truly amazing. They throw ceramic ware the exact same way their ancestors did hundreds of years ago, and then fire it in a kiln with real fire, the exact same way their grandparents did. In Lithuanian villages, we can still find looms that our great-grandmothers used to weave their dowry. Today, ancient Baltic weaving patterns have taken on new meaning and a new life. Likewise, people still hang wooden crosses carved according to ancient tradition in their homes, still own carving of the Pensive Christ, and still stir jam on modern stoves with wooden spoons. Blacksmithing has always been an exceptional craft in Lithuania. Having earned respect, artisans now use their talented hands to decorate our homes and surroundings. You can see these crafts at the folk art fairs that are so popular in Lithuania, or you can learn them during educational programmes held by museums or the artisans themselves.