“Vilnius has a special spirit, all you need to do is capture it. One can easily fall in love with this city, especially if they look in the right places and find the right people,” says Juste Kildišytė, a young, but already acknowledged and appreciated ceramist who lives and creates in Vilnius.
“Finding places and meeting people,” sounds convincing, but how should you do this if you find yourself in this very special city for the first time?
The easiest way is to ask the city out on a date on a special occasion; when it has festive and extraordinary clothing, when the streets are full of people, entertainment and bustle. It is at this time that places and local people reveal all their charm. One such occasion might occur in the blink of an eye, so it’s important to take advantage of opportunities when we identify them.
Lithuania, with its capital Vilnius, is a Nordic country. Thus, every winter day deleted from the calendar with an impatient tremble means taking one more step towards the return of sun and warmth.
The beginning of spring in Vilnius is marked by a day when the whole city pours into the streets in celebration, and this festival has a human name: Kaziukas. This is a huge outdoor arts and crafts fair that takes place on the first weekend of March. Kaziukas takes the entire Old Town of Vilnius hostage during this tireless and action-packed spring festival.
This fair, held on St. Casimir’s Day, is full of everything; it is particularly famous for its authentic and traditional products. But today I want to tell you about a special place at the Kaziukas Fair where I met Justė and her friends, all of whom create some of the most interesting works of art and handicraft articles at this four-hundred-year-old Vilnius event
It is here, between the gates of the largest park in the heart of Vilnius – the Bernardine garden – and the small Gothic St. Anne’s Church, that the Vilnius Academy of Arts is located. Next to it, a little farther away from the noise of the main Maironis street is this special Kaziukas space. Arts students creating a different festive atmosphere occupy an alternative appendage of the Fair. It is here that one can meet those creative people who encourage fair-goers to grasp one of the few authentic spirits of the city: bohemian Vilnius.
This part of the fair, which is not known to everybody and somewhat hidden from the crowd, is the artists’ lot. Here, one can find unexpected and original ceramics, jewellery, textiles and examples of graphic art. Roaming around the Academy palace, a hidden artists’yard can be found where paintings can be explored. However, people don’t just come here for works of art or to trade.
“I’ve taken part in Arts Kaziukas for six years now. It’s like any community,where artistic people and those aware of the value of art meet. It’s often the same people each year. Here, the atmosphere itself is important; somewhere a fire is burning and someone is improvising on homemade, unseen instruments,” says ceramist Justė.
Her works are ceramic and porcelain tableware in purified shapes and colours; nothing overloaded with details. It is obvious that loving hands have created each utensil. Their form is not polished to a cold and sterile machining perfection. Natural curves and the author’s fingerprints can be observed on each piece. They are best described by the words “coziness” and “purity”.
Recently, Justė dived into another area of ceramic and porcelain – jewellery, which is also pure in form and radiates the same coziness that is characteristic of all her work.
“I create modern ceramics. Nevertheless, I always bring a wider range of works that are made by experimenting with conventional firing techniques to Kaziukas. However, the tradition breaks through, perhaps from the subconscious mind,” says Justė, clearly distinguishing between the affection of an authentic spirit at Kaziukas and other art and design fairs in Vilnius.
If Kaziukas is indeed a great opportunity for a first date with Vilnius, what would Justė suggest to encourage an even deeper acquaintance with the city? It’s for sure the second blind date, “just get lost in Vilnius. Wander without a plan, without a goal, without a map. Feel the city through its mysterious layout and its marvellous architecture. What’s more, go slow in Vilnius. Relish in it. Join the city and listen to what it is offering at the moment. Don’t miss the opportunity to chat with the people you meet, drop into the unexpectedly discovered exhibitions, concerts and other events. Just be!”