Monday, 21 March 2016

Bicentenary gift to Australia

Artist Ieva Pocius with the statue
Australian Lithuanian Community Bicentenary gift to Australia

A memorial to represent Australia’s welcoming and providing a good life to the migrants.  What will remain to represent Lithuanian life in Australia.  The idea of donating a sculpture by an Australian Lithuanian sculptor was first raised by Dr Ben Vingilis in 1984 and formerly adopted by the Australian Lithuanian Federal Council in 1986.

A committee was established to raise funds and to call for expression of interstate form sculptors.
The artist chosen was Ieva Pocius, well known Adelaide sculptor.  Her piece was based on Eglė the Queen of Serpents which is considered one of the best-known Lithuanian fairy tales. The twelve foot bronze statue stands on a large piece of granite located at Glebe Park, corner of Ballumbir and Akuna Streets, Canberra.
The statue was unveiled by Hon Ros Kelly, M.P Member for Canberra, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel.

Artist: Ieva Pocius
Casted by Bruce Sutherland

Technical advice: Rimas Kabaila and engineer Romas Katauskas
Chairman of the organising committee: Victor Martisius

Artistic Advisor: Eva Kubbos
Publicity: Juras Kovalskis

Finance: Dr Ben Vingilis
Fundraising committee: Augis Zamoiskis (Adelaide)

The story

A young girl named Eglė discovers a serpent in her clothes after bathing with her two sisters. Speaking in a human voice, the serpent agrees to go away only after Eglė pledges herself to him in exchange for his leaving the clothes, not realising the possible consequences. Three days pass, and thousands of serpents come for the bride, but are tricked by her relatives each time. A goose, a sheep and a cow are given instead but the cuckoo warns about the deceit. Enraged serpents return for a final time and take Eglė with them to the bottom of the sea to their master.

Instead of seeing a serpent, Eglė meets her bridegroom Žilvinas, a handsome human - the Serpent Prince. They live together happily and bear four children, until Eglė decides to visit home and her husband denies her permission. In order to be allowed to visit home, Eglė is required to fulfil three impossible tasks: to spin a never-ending tuft of silk, wear down a pair of iron shoes and to bake a pie with no utensils. After she gets advice from the sorceress and succeeds, Žilvinas reluctantly lets Eglė and the children go.

After meeting the long lost family members, Eglė's relatives do not wish to let them back to the sea and decide to kill Žilvinas. His sons are are threatened and beaten by their uncles, in order to try to disclose how to summon their father; however, they remain silent and do not betray him. Finally, a frightened daughter discloses it:"Žilvinas, dear Žilvinas, If you are alive – may the sea foam milk. If you are dead – may the sea foam beblood…"

The twelve brothers call Žilvinas the Serpent from the sea and kill him using scythes.

The worried Eglė calls her husband, but unfortunately only foam of blood comes from the sea. When Eglė discovers that her beloved is dead, as a punishment for betrayal she turns her children and herself into trees - the sons into strong trees, an oak, an ash and a birch, whereas the daughter was turned into a quaking aspen. Finally, Eglė transformed herself into a spruce.