Lithuanians in the News
23rd May 2010
Australian Cultural Day in Kaunas
Prof. Landsbergis speaks at the book launch.
Photo courtesy Jonas Ivaškevičius
Two weeks ago Friday May 7, 2010, in effect became an Australian cultural day in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city, with two events on that day, both with strong Australian connections. They were the presentation in Kaunas of a book by Lithuania’s elder statesman Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis and the opening of the retrospective 100 year anniversary exhibition of the works of the artist Vaclovas Ratas – Rataiskis.
Gabrielius Žemkalnis speaks at the book launch.
Photo courtesy Jonas Ivaškevičius
The book “Iš Atminties Ekrano” (“From Memory’s Screen”) by Prof. Landsbergis was on the life of his father, the famous Lithuanian architect Vytautas Landsbergis - Žemkalnis (1893 – 1993), who was a resident in Melbourne, Australia, in the years 1949 - 1959. Melbourne resident Gabrielius Žemkalnis, brother of the author, also spoke at the book launch. The architect Landsbergis was responsible for many fine buildings constructed in Kaunas and elsewhere in Lithuania in the inter war period. In fact the book launch itself was in a fine pre war building designed by architect Landsbergis himself - the former Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Trades, now housing the Central Library. The Mayor of Kaunas, Andrius Kupčinskas, was one of the distinguished persons who spoke at the book launch. Musical interludes were beautifully performed on the piano by the architect’s grand daughter Jūratė Landsbergytė.
Kristina Civinskienė, curator of the Ratas exhibition, speaks.
(From the right) Eglė Komkaitė, deputy director of the Čiurlionis Museum,
and the artist’s daughter, Ramona Ratas – Zakarevičienė.
Photo courtesy Jonas Ivaškevičius
Later that day there was the opening at the M.K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum in Kaunas of the first exhibition honouring the 100 year anniversary of the internationally renowned Australian-Lithuanian graphic artist Vaclovas Ratas – Rataiskis, who lived in Australia from 1949 until his death in Sydney in 1973. The exhibition opening commenced with the AURA Dance Theatre of Kaunas performing on the lawn outside the museum a fitting lovely contemporary dance, based on the Lithuanian fairy tale “The Twelve Ravens”. This fairly fairy tale is beautifully illustrated by Ratas in a book prominently displayed at the exhibition. The “Twelve Ravens” book had been printed in Germany in 1949. The dance was specially choreographed for the event by Aura dancer Lina Puodžiukaitė, based on an idea by Aura’s artistic director Birutė Letukaitė. The exhibition was opened by Eglė Komkaitė, Čiurlionis Museum’s deputy director, and introduced by the exhibition’s curator Kristina Civinskienė. After a brief address by the artist’s daughter Ramona Ratas – Zakarevičienė, the many guests, visitors and journalists gathered for the opening were invited to view the exhibition. The exhibition hall where Ratas’ works are displayed is fittingly the same premises where he worked as a senior curator at the Čiurlionis Museum before and during the war 1937 – 1944. A companion DVD on Ratas’ life and times is also continually shown every day during the exhibition.

For further information: Please see on this website News/ Lithuanians in the News/ 18th April 2010 “100 Year Anniversary of Australian-Lithuanian Graphic Artist Vaclovas Ratas – Rataiskis”