December 15, 2008

Vilius Orvydas, Sculpture garden

picture courtesy of alexandre serain shuvalof

Lithuania 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 independence.

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 art environment, but his father, Kazys Orvydas, laid its foundation. Kazys was a stonemason who made a lot of tombstones which would mainly give expression to the christian belief.

this and the next picture stills from the video by Ekalahdas (see documentation)

When in the former century Lithuania 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 wanted to counter the loss of these artefacts and he collected a lot of tombstones that he hid on his property. Maybe the authorities knew about this and they occasionally 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. He decorated a lot of these creations with symbols, giving expression to his deep religious convictions.

Orvydas stands in a Lithuanian tradition where catholic beliefs are influenced by pagan lore.

this picture and the next two were made early 2018 by
Tiramisu Bootfighter who traveled Lithuania in the context of  the project 
La Valise, Galerie Ambulante (pictures as published on Facebook)

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 Lithuania 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 focuses  upon being an open air museum, showing remarkable stones and rocks, that are found in Lithuania and other northern countries, a collection under supervision of scientists.

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

* "Vilius Orvidas", a movie (2001) by Vytautas V Landsbergis, discussed by Victoria Roberts, Central Europe Review, june 25, 2001 (in english)
* video by Ekalahdas (5'34", You Tube, uploaded september 2008)

first published dec 2008, last revised april 2018

Vilius Orvydas 
Sculpture Garden
near Salantai,
on the road to Plungé
open for the public, 10-19 hrs (monday closed)

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