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A Christmas story illustrated by Ukrainian children shines in Vilnius

A Christmas story illustrated by Ukrainian children shines in Vilnius

On St. Nicholas’ Day, the windows of the International School in Vilnius are lit up with the “Fairy Tales of the Holidays” light installation, based on drawings by Ukrainian children. It will delight Vilnius residents and visitors until 9 January.

According to Natalia Gulyaeva, “Artscape’s” art production coordinator and producer of the “Tale of Holidays” installation, the project was meant to emphasize that all children have the right to enjoy their childhood.

“Children want and can have a childhood of play, music, joy and togetherness that fairy tales bring, despite life’s hardships, so this December we decided to set fairy tales free. Symbolically, the big installation of the “Fairy Tales of the Holidays” was lit up on day of St. Nicolas, we held a workshop at the school “Gravitas schola” where theatre director Loreta Vaskova traced a fairy tale through live music, theatre exercises and drawing, and then projection with a graphoprojector. The children read various Christmas stories and let their imagination run free by drawing them.”


These activities were held to encourage children to share what festivals are celebrated in their own country, talk about the anticipation of holidays and learn more about the customs of different cultures. The drawings created by the pupils were the basis for the light installation “Holiday Tales”, created by artist Ieva Keliauskaitė-Mališauskė, also known as Mali Keli.

St Nicholas is a revered saint among Catholics and Orthodox Christians and the prototype of Santa Claus. It is on 19 December that Ukrainian children celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas. It is an important part of their holiday traditions. St. Nicholas is a part of the tradition of St. Nicholas’ holiday. On this day, St Nicholas brings cookies and gingerbread to the children, who wake up in the morning to find them under their pillows.

“Our pupils have a lot of fun on St. Nicholas Day. They look forward to Christmas just like all children do: they decorate their classrooms, make decorations for their Lithuanian houses, draw cards, prepare plays and share their good deeds with others. Together with parents, the school community and older children, we also take part in other acts of kindness, such as helping Ukrainian soldiers with items, foodstuffs and candles,” says Agnė Klimčiauskaitė, the headmistress of “Gravitas Schola”, a school for almost 450 Ukrainian children. – The children prepared poems and songs for St Nicholas’ Day, some of them did it even in Lithuanian, and made their own presents. Most of the primary school children wished peace for St. Nicholas. They asked for a quick end to the war, for countries to live well and not be at war.”

The artist I. Keliauskaitė-Mališauskė smiles that she had unusual colleagues in the creative process of the installation. “Looking at the drawings created by the children, one can trace certain elements of fairy tales and notice a lot of their own imagination, everyday and non-ordinary situations. That is why I wanted to keep this motive of following the fairy tale in the installation: the children continue to follow the fairy tale, but this time directly on the windows of the school. I put their drawings together in a kind of Christmas stained-glass window, dominated by the colors of Christmas, as well as Ukrainian and Lithuanian colors, emphasizing the communion between our peoples, the acceptance and sharing of our customs”, says the artist of the installation.

The light installation “Tales of the Holidays” is lit up in Vilnius on the windows of the “Gravitas Schola” International School (14 Žvejų Street, next to the Museum of Energy and Technology). The installation can be viewed from outside every day from 6 pm till morning. Project partner: Heliopolis. For more information, visit the Facebook account.

Artscape has been operating since 2012. The main goal of the organization is to empower vulnerable groups in society to participate in culture and to initiate social change through high-quality art projects. The agency’s team carries out cultural-educational activities with vulnerable groups every day and brings at least a few high-value artistic productions to the market per year. The Agency is the winner of this year’s Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) Social Cohesion Awards, selected from 64 nominees.

Photo by Alda Eikevičiūtė

December 20, 2022