Artists gifts

Here in Onishi, a number of houses are vacant. Left behind because of hope for a better future or simply because the owner passed over to another world. The funny thing is that this leads to a return ‘trickle’ of other people; the artists. Attracted by the cheap housing and the quiet rural countryside, they move from  expensive and busy Tokyo to here. Giving the little town a whole new influx of different energy.

artistsWe met a couple that decided to move to Onishi to find new grounds and inspiration. In this way rebuilding not only their own future but also do their part in rebuilding the town of Onishi. They found a really nice and affordable place, renovated it and are now happy living it. Although it is next to a small cemetery which is to our Western eyes a bit strange. However these cemeteries are to be found all over. Small scraps of land, often crammed in between housing developments. Just as normal as a field of rice.

Now the couple does workshops with the local kids and learn them to think beyond the box of rules and regulations provided by the Japanse society. Acquainting them with free-thinking and free-spirit.

Yesterday, after we did our own lesson, we had the privilege to be part of the reviewers team for the final exams of the first years students photography at the Faculty of Art at the Vytautas Magnus University. Under the direction of Romualdus Pozerskis, Tomas Pabedinskas and Laima Penekaite over 20 students faced their first semester exam, now had two additional foreigners to deal with and to do a presentation in English as well.


For us it was a great experience and surprisingly enough, our ideas and that of the teachers didn’t differ al that much. Another insight was the level of work we had to judge. In most cases simply very good and after three hours of continuous reviewing and a nice beer, we concluded it had to do with the fact that in Lithuania photography is a big part of everyone’s DNA. It appears to be simply engrained in the education of the people. Something we witnessed as well when we pas Kaunas Photogallery on our daily walks; always were people of all ages inside, looking and discussing the exhibition.

It all starts with perception. How to look beyond the first impressions, dictated by our own perceptions. Can we go past them to connect to the other. That’s what why tried to convey in our first session with the youth of Kaunas Gymnasium. Perception as the first hurdle towards empathy.
It’s nice to see that certain things are truly universal, despite our different cultural backgrounds.


With this little film by Alex and President Obama we concluded our first session and we are looking very much forward to the images they are going to shoot in the next days dealing with their own perceptions!


Today we met our art teacher to go through our programme with his pupils. Great to see the enthusiasm of somebody already working for 30 years in this building and still maintains the energy and spirit of starting yesterday. It inspired us to add a new chapter to our presentation; images of Margaret to illustrate what we would like to achieve with this project; the art of empathy by Kanuas youth. Going beyond the first impressions which are based on our perceptions, right to the deeper meaning one might see if you just dare to.

art of empathy