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Once Upon a Time in Lithuania Paperback – 5 Jun 2006
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She captures a world which looks amazingly as it must have a century ago. There is one radical difference. There are no Jews. --John Russell Taylor, The Times art critic.
Naomi Alexander puts down what she sees directly and unaffectedly. With the utmost economy of means - we get the story. --Paula Riego.
A unique and remarkable book with its moving paintings and sketches of that tragic land. --Lord Janner of Braunstone, Chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust.
From the Author
When I had the opportunity of an artists residency at the Europas Parkas Museum in Vilnius, I knew immediately I wanted to draw Jewish culture. My grandmothers family had come from Darbenai near the north-west border and the family tree stretches back to the mid-18th century.
My mother was a sculptor and one of her most powerful creations shows Jews rushing away on horses and carts escaping from Lithuania before the First World War. We always talked of visiting and finding out more about where we came from.
I felt intensely the presence of the Jews that once lived there, the homes they lived in, the things they must have done and the places they visited, and there is a sense that I am commemorating their lives here.
I want people to see what the shtetls and towns are like, but my drawings are not exact replications, they are not photographs. Photos can give you a lot of information but one is left with a much colder feeling. By taking away the straight lines of buildings, for instance, by curling the roofs, a different kind of reality emerges that I hope is warmer and more powerful. Whereas, in a darker drawing, where Nazi atrocities occurred at the Ninth Fort, a difficult subject to draw Ive left some parts of the walls blank, simply to make the picture less busy.
I prefer to draw quickly. In one sketch there is a broken-down chapel, a bundle of wood. It would have taken several hours to sketch accurately but after four or five minutes drawing it is etched in my memory. It becomes my diary. Its how I remember. In a pencil drawing I remember the detail, a crack in the corner of a building, a mood. Even more so if I paint, for that takes longer. But if I take too long over a painting it becomes too architectural with too much precision, and the emotion is lost.See all Product description
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on 6 May 2006
'Once Upon A Time In Lithuania' by Naomi Alexander is an exquisite book full of beautiful sketches and paintings. Not only does it provide an interesting written insight into Lithuanian Jewish history by such names as Lord Janner and Aubrey Newman, but the real magic is portrayed by the artwork boldy gracing the pages of the book. Even if you have no connection to the subject, the book is well worth the buy - whether it's just to glance through it and escape into the enchanting world Alexander portrays, or to display it on your coffee table (again, something I really recommend you do). One of the best books I have bought in a long time. A 5* buy.