Workshops in Kėdainiai
The group in Lithuania have been exploring their town and region with the help of Rimantas Žirgulis and Audronė Pečiulytė from the Regional Museum and Multicultural Centre. The gallery of photographs below show their journeys, which began with the complex of former synagogues around the old Market Square. These buildings now house the Multicultural Centre and the Art School. There is a Holocaust memorial in the old square, made by a local artist. (More information about that here…)
They began looking at typical Jewish red brick house from begining of 20th century – at Kranto 2-oji (Bank or Shore 2nd) street, former Jewish quarter of Kėdainiai. They visited the Jewish cemetery of Kėdainiai, which was used from 19th century until the Holocaust. There is a nice website which has a lot of information about the former Jewish community in the town and a database of the graves in the cemetery in English at www.keidan.net
They then visited the Mikalojus Daukša oak tree, a very old tree in Babėnai (the northern part of Kėdainiai) – this area was home of this famous translator, writer and Catholic priest. Daukša (1527 or 1538 – 1613)was one of the first representatives of Lithuanian literature. Here also is a memorial stone to the mass grave of 125 Soviet activists, killed by Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators on 23.07.1941. Among the victims were 95 Jews, so sometimes this place is considered a Holocaust site.
The group visited the ruined manor of Sirutiškis, which dates from the 18th century. The park is full of old trees including oaks, European larch, ash, maple. The manor is linked to both the families of Czeslaw Milosz and Bronislaw Komoroski a (the President of Poland). They went to the mound of Bakainiai, which dates from the 14th century, where there was once a Crusader castle. On three sides of the fort was a river, and the north side was protected by a dike. Local legend has it that the mound marks the site of a battle and is the burial mound of the commander.
Paberžė was visited, where the January uprising of 1863 began in Lithuania. The church has an unusual and fine collection of folk artefacts. In the photo gallery you will also see the grave of rebels of this Uprising in Šventybrastis made by sculptor Kostas Rameika; the ruin of the manor house of Counts Zabiello in Apytalaukis from end of 19th century. The set of furniture made from animal horns exhibited in the Regional Museum was brought from here; the monument in Taučiūnai village – place where died the first Lithuanian soldier – volunteer Povilas Lukšys (1887-1919). He was first victim in battles of Lithuanian independence war with Russian Bolsheviks in February of 1919. (The architect of this memorial is Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis); finally, a monument in Dotnuva street cemetery for Povilas Lukšys and other Lithuanian soldier-volunteers, who died in the battles of Lithuanian independence war with Russian Bolsheviks in 1919-1920 and are buried here. (Author – sculptor Kostas Rameika.)
These explorations have helped the group decide on the touring programme for the residency in Kėdainiai later in the year, where they can share their finding with the other groups.