een Hand Gebonden Kunstenaarsboek '(The) Fairing(s)', the Artist's-Books Workshop,Vilnius 2009 a hand-bound Artist's-Book / le Livre d'Artist / ein handgebundenes Künstler Buch / Mahler Buch

Photograph thanks to my friend Chang-Soo

daylies of

the International Artist's-Books Workshop

'real time' 16, 17, 18 - 10 - 2009

The Curonian Spit

An island of some 98 kilometers that is mainly a group of drifting sand-dunes. As beautiful as man may think it to be today, it has been under great thread by man (as is man's universe that he may consider to be the very basis of his existence anyway) as long as mankind exists. Together with nature's great storms in the region, and drought combined with the outbrakes of fires in summer the island is under constant thread of 'walking away' all together. The dunes have 'eaten' a few (more than 10) villages after some time of deforestation (earlier in the 16th century a first recorded dune formation began as a result of the same 'forces') mainly due to overgrazing but more specially as a result of sudden and spectecular timber harvesting for the building of boats for the siege of Königsberg (1757).
The Prussian government sponsored large-scale revegetation and reforestation starting in 1825, as has many another governmental body before and after.
There are father and son David, and George David Kuwert, owners of a post station in Nida, privately doing some reforestation and being loved for it ever since..

In Baltic mythology the giantess Neringa, as a child playing on the seashore, made the Curonian Spit.

The island has been inhabited since 3000 BC, and has been left - or was ethnically cleansed - by many 'tribes', some as dark as my well known Picts and Scoti, with whom they share a history of being in clashes with early Vikings. Most of them leaving a cultural heritage of which much has not been excavated or studied. And then of course there is a great many number of myths about who was rightfully or un-rightfully there.
The Curonian Spit has since 2000 been on UNESCO's World Heritage List (cultural criteria V): "an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture [etc. etc.], or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change".

Nida has a fine museum for Amber. Craftsmen and artists work there through summer on new and traditional jewelry. Amber is of course not found on the south-side of the 'almost-an-island', but on the Baltic shore in the north, never more than some kilometers away, sometimes even a few hundred meters.

Very special is a small part in a local grave-yard with traditional 18th and 19th century, deeply romantic, wooden sculptures.
These are inspiring for the cover I am to make for the series of booklets my students will be making during the ever nearer oncoming workshop, just as colours will be an inspiration for some papers to be made, crafted if you like, from material some students are to find in these dunes.

These days again I find the most perfect seafood dishes, and the finest fresh salades.
The last evening at the academy's hotel we have a gathering in the hall in which we throw together something of a party-meal with the simplest of an 'autumnal-pimms', a fair few crackers, and a most perfect Australian-Japanese Quakemole, to be finished with the highlight of the evening: a Chinese Green Tea as could only come from our most dear Chinese-World-Compatriot. The whole thing very much a students home-coming.


On the way back we will follow the river between Russia and Lithuania. During this tour, again, the tension is felt, it reminds me of the border between Holland and Germany in the fifties, time has been to short. Forgive me for being an idealist, as I have forgiven so many Christians for being Christians, I keep thinking that "We must live peacefully in the European House together with all its windows and doors" as it was frased by Mikhail S. Gorbachev, will be an option, if not the only one.

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INDEX of the Joseph Joh'n' Pages