Backstage interviews: Sonata Lepaite

I meet Sonata Lepaite to talk about her unique and original art. But how did everything start? She was born and brought up in Telsiai, Lowlands of Lithuania. She graduated at Siauliai University Faculty of Education in Primary Education (BAed) and Arts & Crafts of Secondary Education (BAed). Next she graduated at The Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) where her degree was in Fine Art (BAfa). She combines her art work (paper sculptures: ) with projects on art and education for children and her Arts&Crafts work at the Amsterdam post-school Childcare Center ‘KinderRijk’.

Sonata has been living in the Netherlands for almost a decade: “All those years ago I felt a strong need to get away from the environment I was born into. Due to personal circumstances I was able to grow and experience new cultures, develop my self personally and professionally.” Despite that, the artist still feels strongly about Lithuania. It will always be a special country that went through turbulent political and cultural changes.

Sonatas art is very interesting: “The main vehicle in my current work is paper, it’s texture, composition and nature, and of course it’s handling and processing. Paper pulp is willing, gratefully modelled and edited as a wet lump of clay.” How does it all work I was wondering: “For my sculptures I use newspaper pulp, colour pigments, oils and binding medium in order to change and stabilize my material. Protective casings are a fundamental necessity for all new life. They are nurseries, sanctuaries for growth and security. Simultaneously they are also needed for deceased remains as in a sarcophagus. My casings are vehicles in the relentless process of growth and decay. In my experience and in my sculptures all these scales, pods, shells and cocoons are a metaphor for the deep-seated, universal desire to be embraced, cherished, wrapped, nurtured and cuddled. “

During her sculptural research, Sonata noticed that the nature and feel of paper medium evoked powerful, stimulating memories and associations of her agrarian upbringing in Lithuania. Guided by scales, pods, cocoons, nut- and avocado shells she seeks tangible sculptural transformations. These cases protect their content when they themselves are vulnerable. They evoke in her a sense of transience and temporary security.

Sonata shares her philosophical thoughts and spiritual intuition not only on her art but also about her life: “Neither past, nor future is in my power to be changed. I live now. I try to reach the best outcome of everything that I am working on in the present. Its important to listen to the environment as well as to myself and according to that, consider my options and make my decisions. Life to me is a journey to be experienced to the limit. The same goes for my sculpture – its not a premeditated plan but the process which must be open for new inspiration, change and direction.”

It is going to be the first time for Sonata to take part in LTart.NL project therefore we all are excited and looking forward to experience her sculptures.

Interview prepared by E. Kvartunaite.

You can also read interviews Lithuanian versionhere.

Backstage interviews: Violeta Valskyte

Violeta is going to be a part of the jazz/pop part of the musical program at LTart.NL. When I ask her how she would introduce herself, what kind of person she is, she just says: “I am still on the way to find that out. However, being serious I could define myself in two words: stubborn idealist”, she smiles.

While describing Lithuania, her motherland, as a billiard table – a country with four seasons, beautiful vivid nature, Violeta came to the Netherlands for a visit, to discover the country, its towns and people. She’s been singing for a while now and she says she looks at all the music as special. “It’s like a medicine for the soul”, – she says dreamy. “Depending on the trouble and its symptoms, one needs to choose the best cure”.

In the projects LTart.NL Violeta taking part for the first time with hopes to have a great time, to exchange ideas and to meet new people. She is a very creative good willing person whos striving to sing, create and help others: “simply said, I just want to be happy”, – singer smiles. “Work hard from your heart, do it step by step, be sure to do everything that’s in your power and the power of God will bring you where you belong”.

Interview prepared by E. Kvartunaite.

You can also read interviews Lithuanian versionhere.

Backstage interviews: guests A. Gotesmanas & R. Dichavicius

This year project LTart.NL is presenting annual event on the 26th of November in Amsterdam. This years concept is uniting both artists from Lithuania as well as Lithuanians and Dutch creating here in the Netherlands. LTart.NL is working on starting a creative dialogue among different artistic forms and expressions.

Two very special event guests arriving from Lithuania are Arkadijus Gotesmanas, who will present his monoplay „The Story of God‘s Man“, and photographer Rimantas Dichavicius, who will present his exhibition „A Memorial for a Monument“.

Both photographs and monoplay are touching very special and delicate subjects of complex period in the Lithuanian history. Intimate stories from virtuoso percussionist Gotesmanas life merged into a musical one-man play. The story about the love of a man and his place in life will be told as we will hear a small confession without a real sin. “Life is measured not in its length but in moments that take ones breath away,” – says the artist. “The Story of Gods Man” is a compilation of those moments. Its artists first attempt to create theatrical canvas out of intimate life details, emotions and musical motives.

The exhibition from a respectable photographer R. Dichavicius is like a very subtle background to this play. The exposition is like a silent echo, a shadow, a memory of something that doesn’t exist anymore. Grave stones are monuments, however, that represent a still more subtle layer – they are love and pain bonded through tears. The life of a human being continues through the memory of him, the love for him, the continued work on an uncompleted task. Grave stones are sacred symbols that join earthy existence with cosmic infinity.

Organisers of LTart.NL are extremely proud of this unique opportunity to try to combine all those very different themes, history with modern technologies and contemporary arts. Not to forget that all the visitors will have a chance to taste some great pearls of the Lithuanian cuisine.

Atricle prepared by E. Kvartunaite.

You can also read interviews Lithuanian versionhere.

Backstage interviews: Marija Kavaliauskaite

Marija Kavaliauskaitė is a photographer who arrived to the Netherlands for the first time around 3 years ago. She started her carreer as a photographer in Amsterdam.

LTartNL event she is going to present a series of portraits of Lithuanian professionals living in the Netherlands.

E: Why did you come to the Netherlands?

M: I came here for really personal reasons – I felt in love.

E: What makes your art special?

M: My art is not special at all. The moments are special, I capture them. [smiling]

E: What are your expectations for LTartNL?

M: I am always very happy with all Lithuanian community in the Netherlands organized cultural events. It is nice to have a possibility to share and connect with the people from your country while you are abroad. Talking about this event especially, I expect to see different Lithuanians in a different way. .

E: How do you usually present Lithuania to foreigners?

M: Like a beautiful and small wonderland. [smiling]

E: What does Lithuania mean to you?

M: Lithuania is my home country. I was physically born and physically grew up there, but at the same time, I can’t say that I miss Lithuania. Actually, wherever I am I never want to leave and i am always happy by being somewhere else and it makes no sense if it’s another town, country or another side or the ocean.[smiling]

E: What is your biggest goal in life?

M: Always grow be better than I am now, this is the most important to me.

E:What would you like to wish to everyone who will come to the event?

M: Perfect mood and a sunny day!

E: If you were to choose just one photograph out of all the ones you took, what would it be?

M: To be honest with you, photography is a very big part of my life, it always was and it always will be. I would choose an empty one. That way it would be less painful to me I guess :)

E: Thank you for your time!

M: Thank you!

Interview prepared by E. Kvartunaite.

You can also read interviews Lithuanian versionhere.

Backstage interviews: Paul de Boer

One of very special additions to LTart.NL this year is Paul de Boer.He is concert pianist and choir conductor from the Netherlands, specialised in working with singers, both as pianist/accompanist and as conductor.

During his conservatory studies Paul became very much interested in Eastern European music. “Then I met Isaac Kaplanas – a Lithuanian journalist who came to live in the Netherlands and told me about the Lithuanian vocal culture,” remembers musician. “Then I founded my vocal ensemble ‘Daina’. A group of 8 singers only singing Lithuanian music. We gave many concerts in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France , the USA and Canada.” The ensemble decided to enlarge their repertoire to music from all the 3 Baltic countries in 1985. The new name of the ensemble became: ‘Dutch Baltica’. “And again we had many concerts all over, but now including the Baltic countries as well: Vilnius, Kaunas, Riga, Tallinn etc. Unfortunately the ensemble stopped in 1992,” tells me Mr de Boer. “However since then I program Baltic music each year with my 2 chamber choirs: ‘Tegenlicht’ in Amsterdam and ‘Pur Sang’ in Hilversum.”

As a pianist Paul regularly gives concerts with singers and instrumentalists. “Besides I often play solo programs in the Netherlands and abroad. I got interested in M.K. Ciurlionis and played his piano music for a long time already. Needless to say that I conducted his choir compositions as well,” tells Paul. “So I was very happy when I was invited by Rima to play at LTartNl. Of course it will be Ciurlionis. And you might understand: I’m promoting Baltic art in the Netherlands for over 30 years, so a festival like this one will help a lot in making the rich art from the Baltics available for many people here!”, and then he adds, “Besides the festival will bring a lot of Lithuanians together who live here. So – a very good idea this LTart.NL! Good luck organising it!”


Interview prepared by E. Kvartunaite.

You can also read interviews Lithuanian versionhere.

Backstage interviews: Kristina Kupryte

Kristina Kuprytė can not imagine her life without music, arts and kankles. She was born and brought up in Lithuania where she also graduated studies. While playing this unique instrument she traveled half way around the world as well as won some awards in the national and also international musical competitions.

For the first time Kristina arrived to the Netherlands still in 1992 thanks to the twin-city agreement between Siauliai and Etten-Leur cities which started in 1989. That cooperation allowed artists and musicians from Siauliai to come to the Netherlands to perform and exhibit representing their culture and arts. “The Netherlands charmed me with unique tolerance to the foreigners and innovations. Therefore after I graduated my studies I decided to come to this country, learn the language and broaden my horizons”, tells Kristina.

Kankles is one of the older Lithuanian string instrument. Kristina is presenting solo romantic style. “Big part of my repertoire -classical and romantic pieces. Besides original songs that are written especially for kankles by Lithuanian composers I also perform known international songs that are written for harp, guitar or piano”, explains the musician. “During the concert kankles may sound like harp or like a guitar but they always remain this unique instrument”, smiles Kristina.

Kristina is a very optimistic woman: “My biggest goal in life is to communicate messages of goodness through my music. Everyone should smile more and love each other.”

As Kristina is anxious to take part in the event of LTart.NL , she admits that she would like Dutch people to know the beautiful artistic part of Lithuanian culture and for Lithuanians to spend time together in a meaningful way. She hopes that all the young artists will have a great chance to stand up and have great performances. “Perhaps we will discover new talents”, says musician.

“I would like to wish good mood and positive energy to take everything in with an open heart and do everything in the best way possible.”

Interview prepared by E. Kvartunaite.

You can also read interviews Lithuanian versionhere.

Backstage interviews: Vytautas Straizys

Musician Vytautas Straizys at the moment is studying at Royal Konservatorium in the Hague.

He arrived to the Netherlands around three years ago. „My dream to study jazz in the Netherlands was born when I was still a student at M.K. Ciurlionis art school in Vilnius“, says Vytautas. „Already then I heard that professional jazz music is very popular in the Netherlands and that jazz studies are the best and most interesting in Europe“.

When asked how special is his music, Vytautas smiles: „My audience should judge that. To me as the musician it is most important to achieve that my music is honest and would speak about real things – emotions, life,and real human ideas.“ In his opinion, music should tell a story and describe idea and emotion, make the listener feel what the performer feels. It is a dialogue with the audience.

„Those are the goals every time I perform.One of the most significan aspects that could define me as a performer and musician is (and it should be relevant to different kinds of artists too) the ability to not show the negative emotions or ideas“, Vytautas speaks further.

While we start talking about Lithuania and how he would like to present it to other, musician tells a story about how few months back he had oportunity to represent his native lands to his girlfriend. She has never been there before and was very impressed with a five day trip. Vytautas had a chance to show a girl his favorite spots of the capital Vilnius, its little streets, churches, parks and hills. National art gallery, Trakai city and hills of the old capital were not forgotten either. According to Vytautas his girlfriend was surprised that he decided to leave such wonderful country and move to the Netherlands instead.

Piano player says that Lithuania is still very important to him despite the fact that he has spent few years living abroad. He still has most of his friends there as well as his language and his future plans are directly connected to the motherland.

The biggest goal in life for Vytautas is to learn to give as much of good and positive energy and love to everyone around him as possible. As musician he aims to inspire people to enjoy music, and bring positivity through it.

For all who will be there for LtartNL event on the 26th of November he wishes inner smiles, new impressions and to have a great evening!

Interview prepared by E. Kvartunaite.

You can also read interviews Lithuanian version here.

Backstage interviews: Rima Zijp-Dirse

For the first time Rima Zijp-Dirse came to the Netherlands in year 1989. She’s been here for over twenty years. When she is not spending her time with her family or working, she is contributing her energy to the Lithuanian-Dutch Community work. That helps her to combine best parts of both cultures and simple stay happy living in a foreign country. Rima is a musician with a degree from Kaunas J. Gruodis college of music. She has also received a lot of awards at a great number of festivals.

As optimistic as she is, Rima loves to travel and enjoys her life in the Netherlands: “I am very happy with local and international people here as this colourful mixture lets me grow, especially when it comes to cuisine.”

Music is a great part of Rimas life: “Whilst living here I had quite a few performances. Mostly of folk songs that were harmonized / arranged by Lithuanian composers. Until this day I perform very different music. I work with women and children choirs. One out of many things that Rima is proud of – a collection of Lithuanian music “Muzikinis Malunas / The Music Mill” that was supported by OLB-NLG and TMID (Ethnic Minority Department).

As Rima doesn’t live in Lithuania for quite a while, the native country has a great meaning to her: “You would think that the distance and the years would estrange but to me it only makes the connection stronger. As my family is a deportee family, that fact adds even more appreciation for the National anthem which always touches my heart deeply.” Rima is happy that both, her Dutch husband and her daughter, are actively involved in the activities of Lithuanian Dutch Community. And there is always plenty to do: “I often come across people who are interested in our country and its culture, tourism.” Rima is sure that it is very important to keep in touch with ones roots: “I think that even though the world became much smaller place and its easier to travel, to be cosmopolitan and enjoy other cultures that our generation didn’t have access to, it is very important to remember your origins and who you are, “ Rima speaks inspirationally. “We should be proud that we have such a unique language!”

Mrs Rima is working on and participating in LTart.NL project already for the second time. “ I am very happy that we can have this event annually. Its great that quite a big group of benevolent people are uniting to work on it.” Rima is hoping that the event will be successful and all – performers to artists, audience to orgsnisers – will be happy with the outcome. “I would like to wish us all to have a great appealing time and maybe next year to get inspired to take part?”

Interview prepared by E. Kvartunaite.

You can also read interviews Lithuanian version here.

Backstage interviews: Karolina Ponomarenkaite

Karolina Ponomarenkaite is a nineteen year old student. She graduated from M.K. Ciurlionis art school where she aquired specialty in singing whilst also studying piano and art of conducting. Currently Karolina is studying classical singing at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague).After graduation she is planing to continue her studies in the field of music of middle ages, baroque, renesainse. „I‘d like to say that I am a person who is constantly searching and that I am very diverse person.“, says Karolina, „I have so many interests and activities – I am interested in arts, psychology, philosophy, history, poetry, I love to travel and get to know people, get new experiences and share it. I adore everything that brings up strong emotions therefore sometimes I am a bit too much extremal. My main passion is probably dreaming which usualy is the origins for creativity and arts.“

To the Netherlands Karolina only arrived this September. She chose this country because of the chance to study old music. She has had a big interest in it since a long time now: „I felt that this field is not very well cultivated in Lithuania therefore had to search for posibilities to study it elsewhere,“ Karolina was sharing her insights. She found out about the Royal Conservatory of the Hague through friends while visiting them in Amsterdam. „I just had to look further and after some lucky coinsidences I arrived here“, happily tells me the girl.

While we are continueing to talk about the art, Karolina tells me: „Creative work of art to me is a very wide concept and interpretation of other things like art of making food,“ Karolina philosophises. „To generalise creative art would mean dialogue to me. While having a dialogue both sides have to open up, bare their thoughts, give away little peaces of one self otherwise dialogue is not possible.“ Karolina tells me how in her opinion it is very important live through the song before performing for the audience as otherwise audience wont be able to feel the passion or the energy of it. „Therefore my art is simple a way of communication, one of the ways to share my experience, emotions and energy.“

At the event LTartNL Karolina is looking forward to getting to know Lithuanians living in the Netherlands, try to understand their values and simply get a feeling of the little Lithuania in this country. She thinks that the best way to experience the country is to simple get a feeling of it. One must get a feeling of the culture in music, arts and people.

As we keep discussing these issues and talking about Lithuania, I ask Karolina what does it mean to her. At this point she mentions E. Fromm book „The Art of Loving“ (1956) where authors rights that before learning to love one must learn to let go. „Therefore,“, Karolina says, „before learning to be with someone or something, you need to learn to be alone. Here I discover a connection towards being away from Lithuania. Only after disconnection from my own home, beloved people, familiar places, familiar language you learn to appreciate that. You realise that its a part of you and it will never go away as they are your roots that need to be water in order to keep you alive and standing. Therefore Lithunaia is an important part of my personality.“

Karolina says that she is is a seeker – always looking for new discoveries, learning and changing. „The only constant thing in me is the change“, Karolina smiles. „During my life I had bigger or smaller goals but they kept on changing too. However I have noticed that all those goals end up at one point: love. Despite the fact of how cliche it might be. Love is needed everywhere therefore my goal is to do everything with love and to share that love with others.“

To end out conversation Karolina wanted to share a wish for everyone who will come to LTartNL event on the 26th of November: „I wish everyone to see this little Lithuania that has been created in the Netherlands. To hear, to see and to take it in as it is. And of course I wish you love. Love and faith in what you are doing.“

Interview prepared by E. Kvartunaite.

You can also read interviews Lithuanian version here.

Backstage interviews: Tomas Mockus

Tomas Mockus – incredibly active person who, together with his colleague Diana Vaiskunaite, initiated and ran LTart.NL2010. This lovely tradition this year is being continued by a group of other people however Tomas will present his photography at LTart.NL2011.
E: Tomas, how did you come up with the idea for such unique event?
T: All the creative energy came from Diana, nevertheless we both wanted to work on it and after we met Saulius (Saulius Buivys), everything started really moving and became real.
E: What was your motivation to create this event?
T: At the time I was working in finance field and felt a big need for a change and working with something creative. This event was a chance to accommodate it all.
So this sunny afternoon in Amsterdam we talk a lot about variety of details connecting to the event. Tomas is not short for advice:
T: The original idea for LTart.NL2010 was to create a more contemporary art event. We found out that there are only rather limited number of Lithuanian artists in the Netherlands. On the same hand, the audience that’s invited to the event is not only consisting of only Lithuanians and Dutch but also all the international community is welcome. All people who are interested in culture and arts are more than welcome to last years as well as this year’s events.
E: What do you think about the shift in the concept for this year’s event?
T: I think it’s a very good idea to have a concentrated one day event which would have different activities going on in different areas of the venue. It was also a great idea to invite food catering company from Lithuania so that people can taste Lithuanian food and beverages.
E: Thank you for your time and we will be looking forward to view your photographs at the event.
You can also read its Lithuanian version here and also here.
Interview prepared by E. Kvartunaite.