“We are in Oslo, in Norway’s largest open-air museum, Norsk Folkemuseum, presenting Lithuanian linen. Lots of tourists from all over the world here, asking with great interest what the linen looks like. When we notice curious faces, we invite visitors of the live exhibition to give it a spin at the workshop where we demonstrate the path of yarn and show how the fibre is processed. We are very happy seeing the emotions of visitors – their interest has exceeded all expectations,” says Agnė Žilinskaitė, CEO of the Fine Crafts Association and implementer of the international Lithuanian-Norwegian project Making and Growing – Traditions between Fibre & Fabric.
The exhibition debuted in January in a small Norwegian town, Sandane, where the locals and student groups had a unique opportunity to be the first to get to know the traditions of processing Norwegian wool and Lithuanian linen. “I presented the book Path of Yarn there which will allow anyone interested in the traditions of their country return to the past for a brief moment and touch the unique history of wool and linen. Both during the opening of the exhibition in Sandane and here in Oslo we have enjoyed a huge interest. We notice that people are longing for real stories about their ancestors; they want to see how they lived and went about their daily activities. And the best part is putting your skills to the test: visitors are curious if they can make something similar themselves,” says Marija Kajotienė, author of educational book Path of Yarn and participant of the project.
The Lithuanian delegation spent numerous months preparing for the live exhibition which has resulted in an attractive way to present the craft of processing linen to contemporary people. “About 400 people got acquainted with the traditions of wool and linen processing in Norway; we hope that the number of visitors will be even higher in Lithuania. Judging from the reactions, our choice of a live workshop has been a success. The process of turning a plant into fibre (it lies in the straw and can be seen with the naked eye) is what the exhibition’s visitors find a most fascinating thing. They are surprised that the fibre can be immediately spun, and the yarn put into a loom and made into a fabric. It’s a simple and natural process,” Žilinskaitė shares her impressions.
According to her, the exhibition’s visitors compare the national Lithuanian costume with the Norwegian counterpart and marvel at their similarities: “We’ve had people who thought we were Norwegians, and then we’d start talking and tell them about Lithuania. The majority of tourists from exotic countries heard the name of our country for the first time and listened about us and our traditions with pleasure. Usually, three generations of a family come to the exhibit: grandparents, parents and children. The elderly have already seen or done the processes, but the youth arrive with zero knowledge – you have to tell them everything from scratch. We’ve also noticed that here weaving, spinning and similar crafts are popular hobbies among people with stressful jobs. It’s like meditation to them, but the weaving traditions are not taken from parents or grandparents. Some of the people we’ve talked to are discovering weaving independently, even more so that the technical capabilities, for example, modern spinning wheels, allow for a comfortable and easy enjoyment of this past-time activity”.
Good news for Lithuanians
“The live stand is coming to Lithuania, and I promise to everyone that the things you will experience touching the old wool and linen processing traditions will elevate your understanding of the subject to a completely new level,” teases Indrė Rutkauskaitė, President of the Fine Crafts Association of Vilnius, which implements Making and Growing – Traditions between Fibre & Fabric.
In Lithuania the exhibition’s opening is scheduled for 3–5 March in Vilnius (during Saint Casimir’s Fair) at the Cathedral Square, near the bell tower. Educators Lars Olav Muren and Terje Planke of the largest Norwegian cultural history museum in Oslo, Norsk Folkemuseum, and Anne Kristin Moe of Nordfjord’s cultural history museum in Sandane, Nordfjord Folkemuseum, will be waiting for visitors. The Lithuanian team will consist of Kajotienė and Krikštėnai village community educators Janina Svetlikauskienė and Dalia Banišauskaitė.
The exhibition will demonstrate the intriguing path of the Lithuanian linen and Norwegian wool from fibre to fabric and reveal the differences and similarities of the two cultures. The organizers believe that this magical process will leave nobody indifferent. The mobile-stand exhibit will not only convince visitors that exploring the ancient traditions could lead to a lucrative profession, but also allow to participate in the weaving process.
On 6–8 March, the exhibition will be presented in the town of Ukmergė culture centre: 8 Kauno St. (II floor). The exhibition will start on 6 March at 11 AM (open till 7 PM) and will be open from 10 AM till 6 PM on the next two days.
On 9–11 March, the mobile educational exhibition will be available at the restored house of the Pavirvytė Estate lord in Mažeikiai, Viekšniai ward, at the following address: 14 Pavirvytės St., the village of Pavirvytė. The lord’s house contains numerous authentic elements. The exhibition will be open every day from 11 AM till 7 PM.
It will be free of charge and hosted in three languages: Lithuanian, English and Norwegian.
Registration is only required for groups of more than 10 people. When registering, please indicate the number of visitors and date/time of arrival.
To register, use the following contact information:
Fine Crafts Association of Vilnius
Cellular: +370 6841 3902
More information: www.makingandgrowing.com
ABOUT PROJECT (No. EEE-LT07-KM-01-K-017)
• Aim: to reconstruct, exchange and spread traditional knowledge of textile making in Lithuania and Norway.
• Activities: research of Norwegian sheep wool and Lithuanian linen production through the scientific and physical processes and the creation of the innovative product – mobile, live, open and educational exhibition. During the project the traditional tools and archaic practical methods of production of weaving in both countries will be analysed. In this way the research of museum artefacts and practical knowledge of craftsmen will be joined through historical reconstruction techniques.
• Expected results: publication of the process of scientific research and reconstruction on the project’s website provided in tree languages (Lithuanian, Norwegian and English). This website (blog) will initiate discussions online while teaching or exchanging information, ideas and knowledge. In this way the project creates additional qualitatively good alternative to transmission of art, culture and knowledge and the development of cultural tourism. It also provides the possibility to touch the life history at a non-traditional environment, will ensure the interests in social, cultural, artistic and nature environment of the local region.
Value: EUR 132,467.73