Eve Wicks - In Sunshine and Shadow

Sunday 06 October 2019
9:30 AM – 11:30 AM
In store at Avid Reader Bookshop
Register until 06 October 2019 10:00 AM

This event commences at 10.00am. Printed tickets are not issued and your booking will be on a door list under your surname.

Professor Christopher Lee will be in conversation with Eve Wicks – Puodžiūnaitė, author, photographic artist and oral and archival historian, discussing In Sunshine and Shadow: Reflections on Lithuanian Immigrant Life.

'Eve Wicks has created an extraordinary testimony to the life of Lithuanian refugees who settled in Brisbane, post WWII in her beautifully crafted publication: In Sunshine and Shadow: Reflections on Lithuanian Immigrant Life’, says Dr Brigita Ozolins. ‘The book has captured the narratives of a tiny community who more broadly represent the large wave of Baltic refugees [Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians] that were accepted into this country during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It offers important insight into the little known, and often underacknowledged history of these people via the voices of the Lithuanians who found themselves in far-off Brisbane. The book brings together the carefully researched history of the impact of WWII on the Lithuanians with an archive of memories that belong to those who participated in Wicks’ extensive research. It documents a gradually fading history through sepia photographs, poetry, folk songs, and stories. These moments are punctuated by an achingly poignant collection of photographs taken by Wicks herself. These poetic images, embedded with a sense of yearning for a life that could never be, capture the lost dreams and hopes of the Lithuanians of Brisbane. But they also evoke the bigger picture of a Baltic diaspora that extends across the globe’.

The Lithuanian immigrants’ narrative spans the fall of the Iron Curtain and loss of Lithuanian independence in 1940 to its declaration in 1990 and recovery in 1991 – from the people’s flight and displacement to their return visiting. Australian society's mid-20th century's assimilationist expectations sought to silence the immigrants' cultural identity, their history and expression. Expressive prose brings together oral history stories, photographs, and poems and songs to express the Lithuanians’ migration and settlement experiences in the fulness of their lives, with quiet dignity, overcoming their silence. Nine chapters, with notes, include 'Prologue', 'Motherland', 'Refuge Under a Southern Cross', 'Sweet Beginnings', 'Honouring the Goddesses', 'Triumphs and Tribulations', 'Absent Faces', 'From Captive Nation to Independence', and 'To Mother Earth and Morning Star'.

Whilst the work primarily concerns the immigrants' settling experiences, and homeland oppression and ongoing issues in exile, Lithuanian cultural identity and expression are embedded in the oral histories, in the author's encounters with the people in their homes, and in the visual imagery gathered and created, infusing warmth and sunshine and a Lithuanian imprint through cultural contexts. Warmth is also infused through welcoming experiences in the community of their adopted Australian homeland.

In Sunshine and Shadow is a high quality, hard-cover, section sewn book of 351 pages. Beautifully presented text and photographic images are printed on a silk finish art paper. There are 71 restored historical photographs and 113 contemporary images – people’s portraits, objects, documents, home interiors and exteriors, and vibrant landscapes of sub-tropical Queensland. Nine chapters offer discrete text essays, curated historical and new image essays, and two poems or songs. Chapter titles, poems and songs are embedded in text-‘embroidered’ linen imagery. The linens separate text and image essays: one moves through discrete, visually quiet rooms. Poems and songs enrich and weave the narrative, and give a moment to pause and reflect.

Eve Wicks was born to Lithuanian parents who fled to Australia from oppression in Soviet-occupied Lithuania in 1940, during World War Two. Brisbane-raised, her earlier careers were in medical laboratory science and lecturing, and after child rearing, in counselling university students. A desire to study and explore her heritage resulted in creative research projects with Lithuanian refugees in Queensland. Her Master of Arts in Visual Arts degree at the Queensland College of the Arts, Griffith University, resulted in an exhibition through voice, image and object:  ‘Refuge Under A Southern Cross – The Lithuanian Migrant Experience in Queensland’ at the Queensland Museum, South Bank, Brisbane, February – June 2005. Doctoral study in Humanities, Griffith University, includes Saulėje ir šešėlyje: In Sunshine and Shadow. Together with photographic images, the book was selected as an art object by a distinguished Art Jury in Lithuania, and displayed in an exhibition of the works of Lithuanian–Lithuanian heritage artists in the world diaspora. The exhibition was held in the Town Hall, Vilnius, 1–11 July 2018, as part of Lithuania’s ‘100 years since independence declared in 1918’ celebrations.