The “Vilnensis” School of Jewellery is located in the very heart of Vilnius Old Town and positions itself as a continuation of the traditions of the Vilnius’ Jewellery School. On one hand, such an introduction is based on the favourable historical and geographical circumstances: the future Vilnensis jewellers work in the same house, in which the famous craftsman of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, watch maker Jacob Gierke had his workshop in the 17th century. The watch maker of German origin who worked in Vilnius was renowned for his thoroughness and creativity; these qualities are inevitable and necessary for every jeweller. So, students who are short of inspiration can source it directly from their environment. However, the School also fosters the Vilnius’ jewellery tradition in terms of concept: the School grew from the gallery, which jeweller Darijus Gerlikas founded in 2004. In “Darijus’ Gallery” the artist trained in Italy began to organise jewellery courses. After over ten years of persistent and consistent work, numerous students, alumni and teachers, and its good reputation has allowed for the gallery and courses to be turned into a school. Over the course of almost two decades, more than sixty artists graduated from the Jewellery School. A great number of personal and group exhibitions have been organized, students, alumni and lecturers successfully participate in numerous international contests.
The courses at the Jewellery School “Vilnensis” are aimed at both, those who already have an artistic education in a different field, and those who had never had any contact with the art before, and only dreamed of becoming jewellers. Both need the solid base of the jewellery craftsmanship and know-how. Darijus Gerlikas consistently and patiently introduces future authors with the basic principles of jewellery making, taking them from the introduction to precious metals and their alloys, the setting techniques of precious and semi-precious stones, enamelling techniques, and the design and construction of an adornment. Then a personal exhibition is organized and the artwork presented. The goal of the School’s founder and lecturers is to prepare professional jewellery makers who can generate ideas and implement them in practice.
One of the most important features of the “Vilnensis” Jewellery School is the constant effort to maintain the tradition of modernity, to remain open to the inclusion of the new media and other arts, without breaking up with the traditional classical jewellery making techniques. Darijus Gerlikas, who studied in Florence (Italy), teaches the knowledge of gems and traditional jewellery making techniques. One of the best Lithuanian enamel makers, Tadas Deksnys shares with the students the secrets of enamel techniques, which can be both intricate and capricious. An important aspect of the school is openness to other areas of art; lecturing at the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts (VDA), gives Darijus Gerlikas the opportunity to naturally integrate artists from other fields into the field of jewellery design. Artists working in the fields of textile or design, having artistic education, and having developed their artistic skills, gain the opportunity to complement their knowledge and skills with the basics of jewellery making and start creating interdisciplinary work.
The continuation of traditional, classical jewellery making tradition is illustrated by Darijus Gerlikas’ rings – he created replicas of the original 16th-century rings of the rulers of Lithuania, minutely replicating original materials and following Renaissance jewellery techniques.
Tadas Deksnys is a jewellery professional, enthusiastic enamel technical virtuoso, has been consistently and earnestly interested in enamel for many years; He participates in the prestigious international enamel exhibitions, a winner of many contests, capable of turning enamel into both a spatial object and a plane, that can demonstrate the most virtuoso ways of mastering this complicated technique. The rational nature of Tadas Deksnys allows a consistent distribution of the details of the décor on the flat surface of the brooch or plaquette, the fine ornamental elements concentrate and dissipate, creating an impression of a well-balanced, harmonious whole. His enamel objects are both spatial and planar, and fascinate by their colour combinations and precision of technology. Whether it’s a net from which drips drops of enamel, or receptacles, which can be seen as meditative objects, every time enamel shines in ever new colours.
The School is open to authors who have completed other art studies. Here’s Eglė Vengalytė de Meulenaer, who graduated from the VDA, has successfully combined Printmaking and jewellery by printing images on fabric and fitting them into metal; textiles – she “inflates” see-through silk and plays with its lightness and transparency in contrast with the hardness of the metal. Laura Motiejūnaitė, also a graduate of the VDA’s Texile Department, combines textile experience with newly acquired jewellery making skills, creating conceptual ornaments in which textile and jewelry go side by side. Ernesta Statkutė, a graduate of Interior Design at the Vilnius Design College, who later studied at the Florence Design Academy (Italy) her works are both biomorphic and anthropomorphic. They have a soft but expressive plasticity, curved shapes that create associations with the vegetation or seabed world. However, in this sophisticated world, there is space for a man; the miniature figures of people inhabit her jewellery, changing their scale and turning them into miniature sculptures. People and plants, seagrass and pearls live their secret life, designed to be carried around and worn on the body. Karolina Šiburkytė, studied Sculpture in VDA, followed by her studies of Three-dimensional Design in Manchester (UK), speaks in forms and textures; both forms and textures of her works are bulkier, rougher and reveal the sculptural background of the artist. Rūta Jurkūnaitė-Bruožienė (1970 – 2017) graduated Fashion Design, played with enamel, folds like paper a thin sheet of metal, forming broken cylindrical and circular receptacles, in which the inside is more beautiful than the exterior. Their ornate and effective décor is also very spontaneous – practically painting on a metal vessel. Dalius Razauskas, designer, says about his work: “I create jewellery with the tools provided by design.” His objects – miniature plastic, are both laconic and erotic, it’s hard to term them in any other way. Minimalistic objects remind you of a torso and legs, and one can easily sense in them a secret dynamism.
Here are the conceptual and ironic works by Rasa Jundulaitė; ornate, effective, glittering with gold and gems jewellery by Andrėja Chursiakaitė; minimalist and rigorous works of Karina Lazauskaitė and other artists. They showcase the best qualities of the “Vilnensis” Jewellery School: the ability to see the uniqueness of each student, to reveal his or hers’ best qualities, to provide the ability to technically implement ideas, give the knowledge and skills to help to continue their career as a jeweller. The founder of the School Darijus Gerlikas says: „My mission is to foster a new Vilnius’ Jewellery School, to promote creativity, and thus change society, its attitude towards artists, and creativity. This School gradually develops its stylistics, artistic style and develops new authors that successfully reach for the new horizons in jewellery making.
Dr. Jurgita Ludavičienė