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  • Austė Parulytė

"Neakivaizdinis Vilnius" | Interview about illustrating 25 Vilnius neighbourhoods

For graphic designer and illustrator Austė Parulytė, different neighborhoods of Vilnius became an inspiration for her work. The girl created abstract graphic works depicting familiar objects from her surroundings. The author talks about everything in more detail.

You created 25 different illustrations on the theme of Vilnius districts, which turned into graphic works and calendars - how did this idea come about?

Districts have always interested me as a phenomenon - each of them is like a separate world with its own dynamics, atmosphere, unwritten and written rules. Districts have also always been of interest as part of the complete picture of the city. It seems that the most alive, or at least the loudest, are the Naujamiestis and the Old Town, but Vilnius just begins with them.

This is not my first project related to urban spaces - both in Vilnius and in other cities around the world, I photograph architectural and other urban objects, later extending the "volumetric" reality in the photos with "flat" graphic elements. I also keep my visual abstraction diaries about the places I happen to be when I travel. For others, it is enough to take photos while traveling, while I like to observe for a long time, draw by hand, compose. I decided to look not only for my personal connection with Vilnius and its objects, but also to get to know my city through the relationship of others with the city.

Since it always seemed to me that the differences between districts, as well as between their communities, exist and are quite large, I was interested in how differently the residents of different districts see and feel about their living environment. I chose conversations with Vilnius residents as the key to getting to know my city even better, and after the conversations I created illustrations of the 25 districts.

(Pašilaičiai and Lazynai neighbourhoods)

Your illustrations depict specific objects of each district: the Antakalnis clinic, the Fabijoniškės apartment buildings, the Kompozitorių sąjungos namai in Žvėrynas, etc. How did you choose them?

In the illustration of each district, I depicted those objects that are, first, connected with the district for the people who grew up or live in that district, are in one way or another precious. By involving people in this project, I made it not only a creative project, but also a small-scale personal experiment, which doubled the creative pleasure. I had the opportunity not only to create with my favorite subject, but also to communicate with many different people who helped me see my hometown in a different, even more real way.

I interviewed 3-5 residents from 25 districts. The conversations were informal and took place on the streets, on social networks, in stores, at events, in taxis, in museums, wherever I was while gathering information for this project.

(Paneriai neighbourhood)

What district did you grow up in? What inspires you the most about it?

I, myself grew up in Jeruzalė, where I was most inspired by all the greenery! As a child, the biggest joy here was the large meadow, hills, apple tree and gardens right next to our apartment building - it was a space to play, explore nature, get to know plants and various animals. Over time, gardens were destroyed, hills were leveled, apple trees were cut down, roads were built, and everything was covered up with houses. The names of the streets remind us of such, I would say, very thematic district that used to be here - streets of rye, meadows, wheat, strawberries, beekeepers, and larches. I grew up in the latter. For me, childhood in Jerusalem is mostly about getting to know the surrounding world, exploring it. It is a pity, that green areas are less often included in the plans during the development of new urban projects in Vilnius than desired. I think that they are very important both for the city itself and for the human.

For everyone who is still unfamiliar with your area - what is the most interesting walking route you would recommend?

I highly recommend visiting the "Jeruzalės Sculpture Garden" founded in 1980 by the initiative of sculptor Vladas Vildžiūnas. And the gallery named after this artist. Since its establishment, the Lithuanian art collection has been accumulated in these spaces, most often objects that are belong to modernism. And the very part of the district where the garden and gallery are located is very green and has its own specific atmosphere. Many artists still live there.

The outskirts of Jeruzalė border Verkiai Regional Park, where, depending on the season, you can have a great time surrounded by the forest by walking, cycling, and cross-country skiing. In Verkiai Regional Park on the hill stands The Church of the Discovery of the Cross built in 18th century. From here begins the 17th century established Way of the Cross. It is full of brick chapels and wooden gates. For me personally, these areas of the Way of the Cross are interesting both for their history, because they remain since the time of Duke Jogaila, and for their inspiring natural landscape.

I also recommend visiting the non-network bakery located in the old Ventos factory that produced microchips. The bakery has yellow signs and is visible on the right-hand side when driving along the Ateities street from the direction of Fabijoniškės. As far back as I can remember, that's where the bakery was.

(Naujamiestis neighbourhood)

(interview publication date: 2020 02 01, the original publication in Lithuanian you can find here)

: translated by Kotryna Caraitė

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