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Life Affirming Art in Sherborne Abbey

by Gerry Lynch last modified 26 Jan, 2015 02:27 PM

Lithuanian artist displays Biblical and life-affirming art, inspired by childhood faith under Soviet occupation

Lithuanian artist, Birute Nomeda Stankuniene is travelling all the way from Vilnius in Lithuania with a collection of her paintings for a life-affirming exhibition in Sherborne Abbey. 

The Exhibition, Embracing Life will be a wonderful opportunity for people to enjoy Birute’s abstract artworks in the Abbey's magnificent surroundings. 

The exhibition, which takes place throughout the Season of Lent, speaks of embracing life's challenges. The cornerstone of the exhibition is the painting series, Seven Feelings according to the Book of Job, which consists of seven paintings accompanied by texts from the Book of Job. With colours ranging from the delicate to the vibrant, and arresting thought-provoking images and shapes, a voice is given to intense feelings and emotions experienced on the journey towards forgiveness and reconciliation. 

Other works in the exhibition expand and complement the theme of facing and embracing the challenges of life, including: Stigma I and Stigma II which capture a visceral expression of human vulnerability and trauma; The (Story of a) Maple Leaf, a series of four paintings, showing life’s cycle using mesmerizing colours, and Waiting, an almost ethereal evocation of the time when you first catch the scent of spring in the air.

She is delighted that Lithuanian art is being welcomed to this region and being exhibited in such a beautiful sacred place - probably the first Lithuanian art exhibition seen here since the Abbey's foundation by St Aldhelm in 705. The exhibition runs from 21st February to 28th March, opening hours Monday - Sunday, 8am - 4pm. Entrance to the Abbey and the exhibition is free

Birute is fascinated by the dialogue between herself as an artist and the spectator of her works, and intrigued to know Dorset’s response to her art, “For me to create, that is to paint, means to think, communicate, solve and discover - it means to live. 

“It is a great joy and test every time I exhibit my works; every painting is a part of my inner self, put out there in front of the spectator’s eyes, to be observed and reinterpreted. Painting as a unique means of communication allows me to speak of the things I cannot express in words. Once the paintings are on display, I cannot help but wonder how the conversation between my work and the spectators is going to go.” 

In part, her inspiration for the exhibition and her works are rooted in her childhood and youth in occupied Lithuania. “I was born and grew up in Lithuania during its occupation by the USSR”, she says, “where a ‘happy and perfect life’ was guaranteed by the communist system. At that time, to have faith, to question or wonder meant to resist the Soviet regime. 

“Lithuania was and remains a Catholic country, and religion became one of the forms of resistance as well as a way to preserve your national identity. Such was the context that influenced my life and paintings. Therefore I relate to the themes of the Book of Job not only as a person, but as a citizen of my country. I believe that the most important existential questions are often rooted in everyday life experiences, which in turn are shaped by our values and the changing cultural context in which they are located. It seems to me that the experience of suffering is often the point at which we face life's questions most honestly and acutely.”

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