Why -how did it regain its independence? Only because there were people – ordinary people who felt they could do something to make a change. Ordinary perople who were prepared to step up and put their lives at risk. As their numbers grew, the movement grew drawing more and more in. They were idealist, dedicated, at times fanatical, who gave it all they could and were prepared to take risks, give their lives for the cause. They tried to influence others, encourage others, recruit others. They had foresight, political acument. They acted and didn’t wait for someone else to do it. It was their life’s goal. We saw the same pattern during the later years of the Soviet period. The spirit of nationalism growing. The emergence of Sajudis. Regardless of their political beliefs they worked towards the common goal together.

So as we step into the future what do we see ahead? Currently the outward physical appearance of the country whilst beautifully green with many forests, restored towns, villages and many modern buildings shows disaray, confusion, lack of direction. The lack of attention and action to the iconic Gedimino Kalnas in itself speaks volumes. We in the west have been focusing on this event for a while. But what is the mood within Lithuania – within the masses. What is their attitude to it?  Where is the leadership to enthuse the population, to lift the cultural spirit, the sense of who we are, what we are and where we are heading? It seems to be going through a time of not knowing where it is heading, what are its priorities. It seems to deal with day to day ongoing matters and not being able to develop a big picture future plan. A mass exodus, 900,000 – a third of the population have left the country and is continuing to do so – will they ever go back? What about the brain drain? I do note that in Mūsų Pastoge a few weeks ago the stats were showing that people were starting to return but doom and gloom is still forecasted in this regard.

We saw the rise of sajudis, idealism, national ferver. Leaders such as Lansbergis emerged who were able to hold it together, to keep things calm, to pace the events that needed to be controlled. They inspired and pulled the nation together and independence was regained. They did it at personal cost to themselves by giving their all. There are parallels between 1922 and 1992. Both times on regaining independence those that led it were dumped within a couple of years and replaced with others at the helm. They were made to feel inadequate. Mistakes start to happen as personal ambitions get in the way. Constant bickering, in fighting, lack of agreement, dissent and in fighting within parties and between parties leads to unstable governments. People loose faith. The recovery or rather finding the original handwritten independence proclamation in the political archive of the foreign affairs ministry by Prof Liudas Mažylis was a monenteous but such a short lived occassion. Globalisation is changing the world and with it are we loosing a sense of the importance of national identity. In the last week social media shows some outward signs of revival of national spirit with statues and even dogs covered with scarves, wraps, coats in national colours. We are seeing, as we saw last Wednesday here, young leaders, who are enthusiastic shaping our nation but are their words translating into actions. Quoting Šilingas “ A nation can attain its desired goals if it knows how to unite its people and manages to steer them towards a common line of thought, feeling, and purpose. A nation is succesful when it is united in its decision making and timely in its pronoucements. Who will be next to inspire us to guide us? Or as my grandfather Stasys Šilingas wrote “The mistakes of only one generation are enough for us to be able to loose our independence.”

To close, I would like to read to you the following Nine Tenets, which have evolved in the course of the highs and lows experienced by the Lithuanian Nation throughout its history. Written by Šilingas they are still held to be the very foundation stone of the Lithuanian Nation and State.

First Tenet

The Lithuanian Nation in regenerating its inexhaustible creativity, having given and participated within the global world, seeks to live and act at the highest cultural level whilst creating its own Lithuanian cultural treasure trove that will glow within the universal cultures of mankind.

Second Tenet

Lithuania is the motherland of all Lithuanians.

Even those Lithuanians, who because of foreign actions in past events have lost their native language or their sense of Lithuanian identity and are now experiencing a rebirth, are held to be sons and daughters of the Lithuanian Nation.

It is the duty and moral obligation of every Lithuanian to love his native country and to defend the freedom of its land and sea.

Third Tenet

The Lithuanian Nation is its own creator of independence and the source of its own sovereignty. It entrusts the implementation of Lithuanian State power to the entirety of its citizens and places in their hands the responsibility for the Nation’s present and future.  

The role of the Lithuanian State is to express and implement the aspirations of the Lithuanian Nation. It protects the security, peace and honour of the Lithuanian Nation.

Fourth Tenet

The State rallies its people to be unified as a Nation. Lithuanians respect each others beliefs, and seek to find common ground in the national interest.  

A Lithuanian protects and cultivates his Lithuanian consciousness.   This is the country’s greatest source of creative power.

Fifth Tenet

The Lithuanian Nation relies on its land for its existence, freedom and power. The duty of the State is to help its people preserve the land.

Lithuanian spiritual and material capacity is the foundation stone of the Nation’s potential. It is the task of the State to strengthen this capacity.

Sixth Tenet

The strong Lithuanian identity of its individuals makes the nation resilient and powerful. It represents the honour of the Nation. It is a duty of the State to nurture the Lithuanian identity.

Community action develops Lithuanian national consciousness strengthens resilience and disciplines its society. Public opinion will then emerge from its community. A lively and healthy Lithuanian public opinion provides strong supporter to the work of the State.

Seventh Tenet

The Lithuanian Nation commits the current and future generations to come, to keep passing on the past’s capacity to survive for decades into the future.

Its strength is in the abundance of Lithuanians.

Lithuanians starting a family have the blessing and support of the Lithuanian Nation.

A solid Lithuanian family is the foundation of the Nation’s life. It fosters Lithuania’s future. The family gives rise to noble-minded, up-standing citizen.

The Lithuanian woman is the heart of the family. Standing together side by side men and women support each other in their worthy roles.

Eighth Tenet

All Lithuanians are part of one creative and working family. Through work a Lithuanian proves his worth. Work is the adornment of the individual, their family and theirs country.

Lithuanian arts and science, in their pursuit of truth, beauty and virtue, bring to the surface the spiritual wealth residing within the Lithuanian Nation.

Each generation has the duty to immortalise its Motherland through its good works.

Ninth Tenet

Historical monuments and art works bring out the rich past of the Nation and strengthen the national consciousness and determination. The duty of the living is to protect and enshroud these works with honour and love.


Although the language is old fashioned the thoughts expressed are still very current today.

May they guide our nation and its leaders and our expat communities to a stronger future. Sveikinu visus susirinkusius Nepriklausomybės atkūrimo



Whilst the movement to regain statehood was growing, economic conditions of the underdeveloped country with few job opportunities start playing a part. There was a large exodus to places overseas particularly US from 1867-68 due to the large famine and this exodus continues till 1914 with about 20% of the population leaving the country.   The cities are being abandoned to non-lithuanian speakers Jews and Poles. This has consequences especially for Vilnius in later years.

In 1904 the ban on using the Latin alphabet was lifted and books in Lithuanian flowed. The nationalist movement strengthened and was active on many fronts not only in Lithuania but outside Lithuania as well. It was flourishing throughout the 1800s in Russia. Secret Lithuanian student associations in Moscow and Warsaw fuelled the growth of nationalistic revival back in Lithuania. Why there? That is where you had to go for an education. Its membership seesawed over the years and included many – most of the country’s political, cultural and educational, elite and future leaders in various fields came through these ranks. By 1909, after 25 years of Aušra newpaper the so called next generation saw an opportunity to introduce a new journal Aušrine.   It led to the first published issue in 1910 in which articles to motivate young people to be active in the movement were published besides poetry and literature. The publication quickly grew to attract articles from Lithuanian scholars in other places eg Paris, Belgium, Warsaw and Petrograde. Having completed their studies they returned to Lithuania and joined the movement. They were young, enthusiastic, patriotic and driven. They seized opportunites as they arose. I’ll mention a few.

During 1905 unrest in Russia they were under the radar and organised a large congress of Lithuanian representatives known as the Didysis Vilniaus Seimas / Grand Seimas of Vilnius and demanded provincial autonomy for Lithuania. They gained concessions not autonomy.

With the numbers of displaced people growing in Vilnius with the oncoming German army during WW1, and the Russian government allowing ethnic charity organisations to be set up, the activitists in the Lithuanian National movement quickly moved to set up the Lithuanian Society for Help in the Political Centre in Vilnius that had been set up a little earlier to bring together the various political entities interested in Lithuania’s future.    

Expecting Germany to loose the war they made the Amber Declaration – Gintarinė Deklaracija. In it, they denounced Germany and declared their loyalty to the Russian Empire and at the same whilst stating the ethnic differences between slav and balt peoples expressed the need to reunite etnographic Lithuania.   Why called the Amber declaration? Because my grandfather using poetic license had written that the Germans had scattered Lithuania like an amber necklace scatters and it was now time to collect the pieces into a unified whole.

During the WW1 German occupation of Lithuania, recognising the need to gather all the leading people in the movement for independence together, because many had had to leave to avoid arrest, two Stockholm Congresses were held in 1915 and 1917 to plan and organise Lithuania’s government during and after WW1.  

In 1915 over 300,000 fled or were forced to withdraw from Lithuania when the Russian army withdrew from Vilnius including many members of the help committee and the movement. So the incorporated Society for Help relocated to Petrograde as large Lithuanian communities sprung up there, in Moscow and elsewhere. Three of the committee even managed to get on the highest Russian government body responsible for the care and assistance to be provided for displaced people and consequently were able to provide really considerable funds to assist displaced Lithuanian people, provide education for them and keep the momentum going for people to want to go back and rebuild Lithuania. They did not limit themselves to charity works as politics was constantly on the agenda.

Again, when Russia allowed the formation of political parties in 1917 the Lithuanians immediately organised to bring together those of various political groups together and had a mini Lithuanian Council that adopted initially seven then nine resolutions to guide the re-establishment of independence and included the provision for the Polish, Russian, Jew and White Russian population in Lithuania to have representation on the Council. They were presented to the Temporary Russian Government Prime Minister. The Russians were not in a hurry to consider the matter and it was left hanging.

In the meantime, as often is the case amongst Lithuanians, dissent appeared between parties in relation to the presented resolutions. Consequently, a new Democratic National Freedom League party was established with the single purpose of re-establishing Lithuania as an independent nation and Šilingas started bringing together Lithuanian military who were scattered throughout Russia as a precursor to the formation of the Lithuanian army. In late May 1917 a congress of Lithuanian officers in the Russian military was held. There were 78 delegates representing 16,000 Lithuanian soldiers scattered throughout Russia. All this is preparation for when and what they did not know.

The Kijev Congress, of all nations within Russia, in the same year tried to impress on the delegates not to seek independence but to be autonomous within Russian Empire. Most delegates agree, except the Lithuanians who wanted total independence. Isn’t this reminiscent of the Perestroika period in the soviet period.

In September 1917 the occupying German government allowed the Vilnius Conference to go ahead on their terms requiring not only a declaration of loyalty to Germany but an annexation. The members of the Conference had a different agenda and that was to start the process of reinstating statehood based on ethnicity and language that would be independent of the Russian Empire, Poland and Germany. The publication of the resolution by the conference calling for the restatement of the Lithuanian state and election for a constituent assembly were not allowed. Regardless of this, the conference elected a 20 member Council – Taryba that it empowered to act as the executive authority of the Lithuanian people. The 1917 Stockholm convention endorsed the actions of this Lithuanian Council in September and agreed to the elected Lithuanian Council being the highest body to act for Lithuania.

The council led by Basanvaicius declared Lithuanian independence but as a German Protectorate on 11 November in 1917. The Council lost its credibility with the masses after this declaration as it was seen to be selling out to the Germans. The Germans did not act straight away. As the Lithuanian Council in Lithuania had become weakened the Russian Lithuanian Council started to raise funds for the return of the displaced to Lithuania and to fund peace talks.

After finally getting agreement within its ranks the Lithuanian Council again proclaimed the Act of Independence according to what was agreed in September 1917, on 16 February 1918 proclaiming it as an independent autonomous republic organised according to democratic principles.   Germany tried to thwart these attempts anyway possible. On 23 March Germany recognised Lithuania’s independence but according to the November 1917 proclamation and not the 1918 proclamation. Obviously the declarations had to be presented to the relevant government. That is why the recent find in German archives of the intact 1918 proclamation is so important today as since 1918 February no one knew of its location or whether it had been destroyed.

Were you aware that there was another movement afoot during German occupation to revive the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a socialist multi-national federal republic by the Belarussian National Council under the leadership of Anton Lutskevich. He proclaimed the Belarussian People’s Republic in March 1918. He and the Council fled Minsk before it was taken over by the Bolsheviks in December 1918 and on arrival in Vilnius found no support as the Lithuanian leaders were in advanced stages of national planning for their state within their own ethnographic frontiers. Then on the other side Poland was also working towards reinstating the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. So many if and buts of what the future may have been if things had not panned out the way they did.

The 1918 declaration changed nothing immediately. Germany was making things difficult and there was lack of harmony again within the Lithuanian Council. In Russia several members of the movement were arrested and imprisoned on 27 February. To prevent Germany stopping its steps towards independence Lithuanian Council in July 1918 even chose a foreign born Mindaugas 11 as the titular head of the country but he never assumed the throne. He was Monaco born Prince Wilhelm of Urach. Some Council members resigned in protest to this appointment that was eventually recalled by the Council in November. Six new members were co-opted in July into the Council and all had just returned from Russia including my grandfather.

It was not until the end of the WW1 and Germany looses the war and leaves the country whilst the Bolsheviks are advancing towards it that independence becomes a reality and a government is quickly formed and puts in place its first temporary constitution on 13 November 1918.  The first Constitution was signed by the three members of the Nation’s elected Lithuanian Council Prezidium– Antanas Smetona, Justinas Staugaitis, Stasys Šilingas, also the author of the constitution and the Prime Minister Prof. Augustinas Voldemaras. The constitution was very brief as many legal structures were not in place. What is significant is that it abolished class privileges and declared every citizen regardless of class, sex, religion ethnicity equal. Women had equal rights, right to vote and an education.

Proclamation of independence was not the start of peace but the start of independence wars. For over two years there was an actual war with Lithuanian soldiers having to push back the Bolsheviks, Polish army and finally the West Russian Volunteer Army. It also gave rise to many who did their utmost to protect Lithuania. How many of you have heard of Marcele Kubiliūte, no relative, who is the most decorated Lithuanian woman for her efforts to protect the country. She was bright and wanted an education and was given an opportunity to go to Chicago. Due to her mother’s illness she didn’t go and after her mother’s death joined her brother in Petersburg where she learnt several languages. Coming back to Vilnius she tried to join the Lithuanian army but was told she was too young. At the time women were being recruited as spies. She was extremely successful as a spy – she was able to engage with Polish officers and gained considerable information that helped Lithuania overcome its enemies. She was responsible for providing the information that prevented the Polish takeover of Lithuania’s government in Kaunas in August 1919 that resulted in the conviction of 118 of those involved. Had the Lithuanian generals listened to what she had learnt maybe Vilnius would not have been occupied by the Poles. She had warned them that it was imminent but they didn’t believe her on the grounds that on that very day the Suwalki Agreement had been signed. The next day, 8 October 1920 as she had predicted, Vilnius was taken. Or what about Steponas Darius who left Lithuania as a 10 year old, as a young adult served in US army in WW1 then found other Lithuanians who had served in the US army and encouraged them to join the fight for independence in Lithuania and had a significant role in the charge during the Klaipeda uprising in 1922 leading to unification of Klaipeda region with Lithuania.

On July 12, 1920, a peace treaty is in place with the Soviets recognising a fully independent Lithuania and its claims to the disputed Vilnius region. However, tensions with Poland continued. Kaunas becomes the temporary capital and seat of government. Once Lithuania obtained international recognition and membership in the League of Nations by August 1922 it introduced a national currency, put land reforms in place and adopted a final constitution.

 On going tensions with Poland, disparate views led to many difficulties in forming stable governments. Only the second Seimas served its full term. The third Seimas having signed the Soviet-Lithuanian Non-Aggression Pact was accused of “Bolshevizing” Lithuania. Consequently, the government was deposed in 1926 bringing about the end of democratic Lithuania till 1992.  Smetona was re installed as President and stayed in this role until 1940. The Constitution was revised in 1938 reinforcing authoritarian rule.   The 1938 Constitution was adopted on regaining the 1990 independence and was in place till the new 1992 constitution. My grandfather as the author of this constitution had stated earlier in his life whilst he was philosophically opposed to dictatorial rule but that he was ready to do whatever was required for Lithuanian solidarity. 

The period between the World Wars provided opportunities for development, consolidation, revival of traditions and culture and rebuilding of the nation but it still remained a highly agricultural country. Birth rate increased as did the population in spite of immigration to South America and other places. The number of Lithuanians outnumbered those of other nationality by a considerable number. The right wing dictatorship was seen as having a stabilising effect on society. Mistakes were made as personal ambitions started to get in the way. On both occasions when threat of invasion from the east occurred – December 1918 and 1940 the president removed himself and his family from Lithuania, although it was claimed in 1918 that it was to arrange state financial matters with Germany. This action was considered controversial then and still is as Smetona on both occasions left the management and handling of the crises to others.

Then the events that we all know about took place. Following a brief occupation by Nazi Germany, Lithuania was again absorbed into the Soviet union for close to 50 years.  In 1990–91, its sovereignty was restored, it joined the NATO alliance and the European Union in 2004.


Go to Part 3…ependence-part-3/ ‎ 



We have gathered today to celebrate and rejoice on the occasion of 100 years of the restoration of statehood. In Lithuania last Friday not only did they celebrate this centenary but the historical bridge dating back to July 6 1253 and then 11 March 1990. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for those two events.

Last year president Grybauskaitė after her greeting to the nation on the occasion of the coronation of King Mindaugas in Kernave, launched the start of the celebration of 100 years since regaining of statehood with the ringing sound from the so-called centenary bell. The sounds of the bell rang out and echoed through the hill fort valleys throughout Kernave leaving a tingling sensation whilst listening to it. Then in the evening the national anthem sounded out at the same time across 100 fort-hills throughout Lithuania.   These were two extremely moving poignant experiences that we were fortunate to be part of.

A hundred years does not sound like much in terms of history. The critical point is that it is a 100 years since regaining statehood – the birth of the modern Lithuania.  Lithuania has a considerably long history of independence. As many other nations have experienced in the past, no history of a nation is all about peace and glory. They all have their highs and lows, some chequered history, tragedies and civil wars. Some nations eventually disappear, others survive.   Lietuva – Lithuania survived incredible odds for a nation of its current size. Mistakes have been made and some patterns keep repeating. Whether we will learn from the past, from mistakes or not, time will tell. As a nation it seems to have the capacity for resilience, to survive the odds, to keep coming back. But for how long? Who knows?

It did survive the recent genocide attempts by the Soviets in 1941 and 1944 when hundreds of thousands were deported to Siberia to concentration camps. Some of us have family that was deported. But – let’s not forget that these were not the first deportations to Siberia. After the 1863 uprising across the whole former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, documentation shows that nearly 400 were executed, over 18,500 were deported to Siberia and 70,000 to 80,000 men and women sent to Russia’s interior to Caucasus, Urals and other remote areas. It was history repeating itself. A pattern of how they deal with those that don’t conform.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

We know that although the area now known as Lithuania was settled after the glaciers receded at the end of the last glacial period – around 10 millennia BC, there is no written reference to it as Lithuania until the Quedlinburg Chronicle of 9 March 1009, where, in an entry of the story of St Bruno, the Latinised name Litua for Lithuania is recorded. But our unique DNA dates back to 13,000 years ago in this region.

The significant milestone in Lithuania’s history is the coronation of King Mindaugas in 1253 and the accompanying recognition of Lithuania as a nation. The reinstatement of that statehood is what we are celebrating today. I’m not going to delve into the history of the country in any depth but take you on a journey touching the significant events that led to what we are celebrating today. From the late 12th Century it was getting organized as a nation, a military force was in place that triggered a struggle for power and the outcome was the formation of this early statehood from which the Grand Duchy of Lithuania developed and grew. We know that it became one of the largest states in Europe. We saw the rise of the Gediminas family dynasty and its expansion through diplomacy via arranged marriages and warfare. We know of the dynastic union with Poland known as the Union of Krewo (Krevos sutartis) and the later Polish Lithuanian Union of Lublin creating the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that lasted from 1569 to 1795. Why the union with Poland? – Put simply – to have the strength to protect themselves against the threat of Russia.

During this union of over 200 years the reins of leadership slipped from Lithuanian hands and so did the way of life, and the language. Foreign ways made their way particularly into the lives of the affluent and ruling class. What is important is that the ruling class, who spoke little or no Lithuanian, did not allow for the full incorporation of Lithuania into Poland and protected its heritage and its autonomy. By mid15th century the Lithuanian language was no longer spoken or used by the nobility, gentry or in public offices. As with any partnership eventually a dominant partner appears and takes over. Over time Poland became the dominant partner but even it could not hold out. The third and last Partition of Poland in 1795 erased both Poland and Lithuania from any political or geographical map. Lithuania’s autonomy was lost, 90% fell under Russian rule and the remaining portion under Prussia. Lithuania as a nation existed no more, its language close to extinction.

The Lithuanians did not take the 123 year domination of its country by Russia lying down. Their lives were difficult. The grass roots of the culture, traditions and language was surviving in pockets with the ordinary people – the peasants – across the land. It was only in Western Lithuania – Samogitia – Žemaitija that the language and traditions were also upheld by the affluent and upper classes. When you lose something you tend to appreciate what you had. Having lost what was dear to them gave rise to the Lithuanian National Revival and a very, very long fight to restore its statehood – from early 1800s to 1918. There were also two much divided viewpoints – ideological differences on how this would be achieved as by now many Polish nobles had acquired estates in Lithuanian. So there were those who sought to create a political movement bound with Poland and there were those that were creating a nationalist Lithuanian movement based on ethnicity and language in Western Lithuania.

Two failed uprisings by those seeking political solutions in 1830-31 and 1863-64 resulted in increased repression by the Russian authorities. The earlier 1830 uprising started by the gentry and scholars was in the hope of restoring the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. However, the ordinary people – the peasants – also saw this as an opportunity for social disobedience and change in society’s structures that were repressing them at the time. Whilst this uprising failed, it continued to fuel the growth of national identity, the desire for freedom and land ownership that was being denied. The second uprising in 1863 included more than a half of the barons, a third of the peasants and many townspeople and clergy. One of the main leaders of this uprising was kunigas Antanas Mackevicius, from Paberže parish. He was known to visit Paberžes manor to discuss important uprising matters with Stanislovas Šilingas who happens to be the grandfather of one of those who contributed to creating an independent Lithuania and my great, great grandfather. I wonder how many other future leaders were influenced by their ancestors participating in these early uprising? This uprising took 10 months to be quelled by the Russians followed by the deportations to Siberia that I mentioned earlier. Šilingas, having had his lands confiscated was deported for his part in the uprising. There were many others like him deported at that time as I mentioned earlier. The irony is, the same fate awaited his grandson.

On the other hand from early 1800s more and more signs of national revival emerged. Lithuanian became an underground language. The use of the written Lithuanian language started to spread.  The rise of nationalism was a very strong movement in Western Lithuania and one of the most significant figures was Simas Daukantas, who in 1822 wrote a history of Lithuania in Lithuanian but it was not published till later. After the uprisings any future with Poland was seen as outdated and the focus shifted from regaining the Duchy of Lithuania to regaining the historical ethnographic lands of Lithuania.

The combination of the uprising and this nationalistic movement in Western Lithuania led to total prohibition of printed literature using the Latin alphabet, a total ban on the use of the Lithuanian language, the closure of cultural, religious and educational institutions. So only anything in Russian script was allowed. What happens when something is banned? It goes underground. Lithuanian literature was printed in Prussia and Lithuania Minor and smuggled into Lithuania. There are many stories about the book smugglers. There are many who have ancestors that were involved in this smuggling operation. Books became valued, sought after, passed from one to another. Ordinary people were learning the language, learning to read and write from smuggled materials.

New leaders, activists emerged from all different social backgrounds and persuasions, often they were Polish-speakers, but united by their willingness to promote Lithuanian culture and language as a strategy for rebuilding a modern nation. So many of them had to learn the Lithuanian language. Even much later, leading into the 1900s many of those from more affluent families who went on to play a major role in the early years of independence were trying to master the language as adults after discovering their ethnicity and becoming fervent advocates for the restoration of statehood. My grandfather Stasys Šilingas was one, Jurgis Šaulys who penned the Act of Declaration another. Šaulys in his childhood considered himself a Russian but on discovering and acknowledging his ethnicity became a strong advocate inspiring others to do the same. Officially he was expelled from the seminary for reasons of ill health, unofficially for book smuggling. Mykolas Romeris, a signatory was a Polish Baron who classified himself as a Lithuanian Pole and tried unsuccessfully to convince other Polish barons to acknowledge the same and also learnt the language as an adult. There were many, many more.

The nationalist movement spread and was no longer confined to one part of the country.   Two prominent members of the movement were children of affluent peasantry and both attended Marijampolės secondary school six years apart. Both went on to become doctors against their parents’ wishes who wanted them to be priests. They were Basanavičius and Kudirka. Basanavičius was the first signatory on the act of reinstating independence whilst Kudirka wrote our national anthem – words and music. They were fortunate that the russified polish school had Lithuanian language classes, very unusual at the time, and Kudirka was also able to learn Polish at the school, also unusual. Like many of the brighter people they left the country to seek education and opportunities elsewhere as higher education was banned in Lithuania and returned to become prominent members of the Lithuanian rebirth movement. Basanavičius, went to Moscow, Kudirka to Warsaw, both became members of secret Lithuanian student associations. Basanavičius whilst training to be a doctor researched the Lithuanian literature, language, culture and put together an Elementary grammar book but was not allowed to publish it. He was concerned with educating the ordinary people. Even though he lived in Bulgaria and later Czechoslovakia he kept returning to Lithuania and initiated the printing of the first newspaper in the Lithuanian language Aušra, which was smuggled into the country, whilst a little later Kudirka was responsible for Varpas. Basanavičius even took out Bulgarian citizenship in 1891 before returning in 1905. On his return in 1889 Kudirka worked on bringing the Lithuanian peasantry into mainstream politics to be building blocks of a modern nation.

Go to Part 2…ependence-part-2/ ‎

I came home from summer school in Ballarat to find my husband had my copper ready for me to use.  I bought an old copper last year in Tasmania in an old wares place.  We bought it home and it needed careful looking over.  Finally it was decided that it would be safe to use but I needed a new element.  It took us a long time to find the appropriate element on the web.  But ouch!  It was very expensive.  So I put off buying it for a while.  Before Xmas I bit the bullet and ordered it and it was substantially cheaper than when we first looked.  So after Xmas my husband got to work on it and now my copper is ready and joining my outdoor kitchen.  I’m looking forward to using it next time I do some dyeing.


I started the year with a bang by going to summer school in Bathurst run by Fibre Arts Australia to do a workshop with Dionne Swift.  After an amazing informative and instructive workshop I came home thinking a lot about threads.  There is so much to learn about threads.  There is so much variety and colours to choose from.  After I got home I had to face the task of unpacking my threads and putting them back in their drawers.  So how best to organise them?  I used to organise by brand and colour.  After the workshop I rethought my approach and decided to organise by weight and then colour.  It took me all day to sort it all out.  I also found that I favoured blues, greens, earthy colours.  In the process I could all see the gaps in my thread collection.  

Looking at thread weight can be confusing and frustrating as there really is no standard system in place.  There are different systems in place.  The weight standard is one that many quilters and textile people understand.  The higher the number the finer the thread.  The lower the number the thicker the thread.  As well the number refers to how many metres of thread to one gram e.g. 40 metres of 40wt weighs  gram whilst 12 metres of 12wt weighs 1 gram.  Simple and easy to understand.  Apparently the Tex system was supposedly developed to standardise the industry.  In this system the higher the number the thicker the thread.  So whilst sorting my threads I found my Rasant threads were using the Tex system and all my other threads were using the weight standard.  I rang a few suppliers trying to work out what these threads could be equivalent to in the weight standard.  I was told that everyone uses the Tex system what am I on about.  Well I still don’t know whether the Rasant’s are equivalent to a 40wt  or 50wt.  I’m totally confused.  

Then the other consideration is how the thread is wound and plied.  Threads may be single ply or 2 or 3 ply.  How it is wound is important as that dictates how it comes off the spool.  So stacked threads need to be upright on the spool holder and the cross hatched threads need to be horizontal on the spool holder.  When I have had them wrong I can have thread problems whilst sewing.  

There is so much more to learn about threads.  I went through my information folders and pulled all thread info out and put it together to keep with my threads so that I had a quick reference when I needed it.  I also have much more to think about as I stitch either by machine or hand on my art work.

IMPROVISATION #2: Tranquility


I decided to make a piece for the 2017 SAQA Trunk Show. I refer to this abstract piece as an improvisational study.  The guidelines stipulated the size of 10”x7”. I had no idea what I wanted to create so again I decided to let the fabric speak to me and guide me.

I took out my stash of eco printed and naturally dyed fabrics and I auditioned the fabrics. I kept pulling out fabrics, looked at them, fondled them. I let serendipity take over.  It kept changing until finally I just had the little bits that came together and spoke to me. I then continued to play with placement until it felt right. I challenged myself to include a technique I haven’t used for a while so I included a bit of trupunto. I also challenged myself to use more than one hand stitching stitch and to use machine stitching as well.   The stitching then took over. Again I just let the marks on the fabric lead me in my stitching. I didn’t photograph it during the process because I was just so totally engrossed in it.

I called it Improvisation #2: Tranquility.

Why? Because piece to me evokes a sense of calmness and calmness and tranquility was what I felt as I created it. As I looked at it, it also was suggestive of a restive place as it seems to reference trees, shrubs, maybe a pond. Then from a side angle in particular a face appears with a dominant mouth.

I used silk fabric with marks created during natural dyeing and eco printing on fabric process. I collaged the piece and then used very dense machine quilting and handstitched using the stem stitch, chain stitch and running stitch. The printed marks on silk together with collaged pieces and stitching create movement and texture.

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I thoroughly enjoyed creating it and it is part of a series I am working on using naturally dyed and ecoprinted fabrics.


Fashfest 2016

Well Fashfest has been and gone.  It was a wonderful experience.  The models looked fantastic.  It was quite an experience to walk onto the runway as a designer.  The show looked fabulous.  I received a lot of fantastic comments during the break between the shows.  And several of the pieces have sold.  It was really great to have the support of another designer Elle Hopgood and my friend Flora Elliott.

What a fantastic night.



Getting ready for Fashfest

It has been exciting and nerve racking getting ready for Fashfest 2106.  I’m part of Cooma Fashionation –  three designers from the Monaro area – Elle Hopgood,  Charly Thorn and I.  The only pity is that it appears as if the label is Cooma Fashionation and our names as designers only appear when you go further into their site under Cooma Fashionation.  However, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to show my work.  I created a range for pieces  so that I could then decide which ones to use.  On Monday we had a photo shoot with Gordon taking the photos of my friend Chrissy modelling my work.

I really enjoyed creating my vest cum scarf

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Two different wool swing vests.

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Two different silk swing vests

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I also created several new scarves







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SAQA Benefit Auction and Monaro Art Group Exhibition.

This week I have been on tenterhook as the 1st section of the SAQA Benefit auction got underway.  My piece: Lost in the Mist was in this section.  I blogged about it earlier.


It sold today.  I let out a big tepee. I’m so glad that it spoke to someone else as well and that they wished to have it.  A great feeling.



Then yesterday I went to the opening of the Monaro Art Group Exhibition.  My two pieces were highly commended.  I really enjoyed creating my rusted piece on paper with


I also entered my winter#5 textile art piece.  It was well received.


Fashfest and flowers

I thought I would share something I received today. One of my pieces is included in an article showing Fashfest’s links to flowers as Floriade is now on in Australia’s capital city Canberra…/…/bowers-of-flowers-at-fashfest/