December 15, 2008

Vilius Orvydas, Sculpture garden

picture courtesy of alexandre serain shuvalof

Lithunia is one of the three Baltic states in northern Europe. After World War II it was occupied by the USSR, but in 1990  the country regained it's independency.

A private affair

In the neighbourhood of the community of Salantai the Orvydas family owned a large plot of land.

Vilius Orvydas (1952-1992) was the one who transformed the garden into an outsider environment, but his father, Kazys Orvydas, laid its foundation. Kazys was a stonemason, who made a lot of tombstones, many of which would give expression to the christian belief.

When in the former century Lithunia was under Russian rule, the communist regime had forbidden all religious expressions. This included statues of saints and also tombstones with religious texts or symbols.

Kazys Orvydas however, to counter the loss of these artefacts, collected many of them and hid these on his terrain. Maybe the authorities knew about this, and they occasionaly may have intervened, but during russian rule the site as such somehow has survived.

So in the 1970's and 80's this collection was supplied with creations made by Vilnius Orvydas. As a self taught sculptor he made all kinds of sculptures and wooden structures, many of them decorated with symbols and giving expression to deep religious convictions.

He stands in a Lithunian tradition, where catholic beliefs are influenced by pagan lore

this and the next picture stills from the video by Ekalahdas, see documentation
All creations are exposed on the plot of land around the family property, which in this way has become kind of an open air outsider art museum.

In the 1990's tourists from Lithunia and abroad began to visit the site, which currently is cared for by younger members of the Orvydas family

In recent years, however, it has lost some of its original outsider character. Nowadays one also focusses  upon being an open air museum, showing remarkable stones and rocks, that are found in Lithunia and other northern countries, a collection under supervision of scientists.

The Orvydas Garden still attracts a lot of visitors, domestic and foreign.

Documentation, more pictures
* "Vilius Orvidas", a movie (2001) by Vytautas V Landsbergis, discussed by Victoria Roberts, Central Europe Review, june 25, 2001 (in english)
* more pictures by Alexandra Serain Shuvalof on Panoramio 
* video by Ekalahdas (Youtube, uploaded september 2008), in two parts, 10; 05" and 5"35"

first publishhed dec 2008, revised feb 2013

Vilius Orvydas 
Sculpture Garden
near Salantai,
on the road to Plungé
Lithunia LT

open for the public, 10-19 hrs (monday closed)

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