Šilainiai Project is 5

Šilainiai Project is 5 this year.

Exactly five years ago today I started the active preparation for project launch in the autumn 2015.

It has been an incredible, life changing journey and even though it was tough at times I am very happy that I started it. I cannot express in words the gratitude and humility that I feel to so many people that took this journey with me – either one moment in time or continuously. It’s 2020 and the journey continues… #silainiaiproject2020


Here are some things that I feel like sharing with those who might be at the very beginning of their journey / letter to myself five years ago


  • There will be people that will think you are crazy and will tell you not to even bother, that you can’t start something alone. Listen and try to understand their reasons for saying this, but always make up your own mind. Innovation and groundbreaking projects are never born by playing it safe. If something has never happened before, it is not the reason not to do it.
  • Share. Don’t keep your dreams and ideas to yourself. Talk to people, write about it, present it, shout it out… There might be somebody out there who wants to join you and help to make it a reality or might have some invaluable advice. Take precautions, but fear of being copied and not starting is the worst possible outcome. Later on – share knowledge and resources with others.
  • Don’t expect it all to work out the first time. Try, fail, try again. Ask for feedback. Constructive feedback is worth gold. This is how we improve. Sometimes we learn much more from failures than successes. Embrace these learning outcomes.
  • Integrity. There will be times when you will have to make difficult decisions, it will be hard and you will have to make sacrifices. However, be brave not to compromise on your values – it makes you who you are. Know yourself.
  • Be flexible and sensitive to new information and changing situations. Having a plan is good, however be ready for change and for the unknown. This is where the magic happens.
  • Ask for help. Build a team. You can’t know everything and do everything – it’s a recipe for overburn. Find people who share your passion and values and divide tasks by competences. It will take time to find team members and, so you know, two people are a team too.
  • Don’t assume things. You might think that some things are self-explanatory. Think again. People speaking the same language might understand the same word differently. Use simple words, explain what you mean, use examples, visual material. Try to look from another person’s perspective – it is not easy and sometimes impossible, but still – try.
  • Realize that this is your job. Understand the value you are bringing and monetize it. It will be hard, but you do need to eat and pay rent. Otherwise you will end up broke and overburnt. “Day job” is good, but it will leave you with less time and energy to do your work. Find the balance that is right for you.
  • Do your best to build teams, projects and situations that are resilient and sustainable.
  • Never stop learning.
  • Join local and international peer networks for professional and emotional support and feedback. Support others.
  • Have holidays from work. Even if you do love what you do, it is healthy sometimes not to do it. You will be back refreshed and with new energy, which will improve your work.
  • Value your supporters and keep them updated on your progress. It can seem an impossible task sometimes when there is so much happening, but do the best that you can.
  • Enjoy it. There will be ups and there will be downs and sometimes it will feel like a roller-coaster. Celebrate milestones, however small they might be – you and your team did it! Eat cake!

Institute for Public Art-Research Network meeting

I am currently attending Institute for Public Art-Research Network meeting in China, where I’ve been invited to talk about my work in Kaunas. I am very grateful to College of Fine Arts, Shanghai University for the opportunity to share my work and meet colleagues who share the passion for public art. You may read an abstract from my speech below.


‘Šilainiai Project’: Connecting people and places through art


The microdistrict of Šilainiai is the largest residential complex in the city of Kaunas, Lithuania. Built in 1980s, the area and its residents make up more than 50,000 people, however there are currently no space or centre for cultural events or activities. The local library is the only non-commercial space for residents to come together or to have any sense of a community gathering. They usually have to travel to the town centre or the countryside in order to spend any leisurely time.


During my research into the history of Šilainiai, I had discovered a large number of creative people living and producing work within this area, but later found out that none of them had any recognition whatsoever. I found that young people of whom desire to follow a creative path were unable to pursue their ambitions, due to the lack of support and space for them to practice and share ideas. Even a larger number of residents who simply want to engage in activities closer to home or after work, there is no place for. Having lived in Šilainiai myself, I have noticed that the people within this district have become disconnected and the communities fragmented.


In 2015, I started the ‘Šilainiai Project’ in order to address some of these issues. The project has 5 branches of activity:


• Šilainiai Archive

• Walks and Talks

• Events in Unconventional Spaces

• Workshops

• Artist Residences


The project is ongoing, but already some positive changes have came as a result, e.g. A growing number of people actively participating in local events, new creative support networks being formed, abandoned and unused spaces are being utilised for creative activities and new artworks inspired by Šilainiai are being created. What is also important is that the volunteers and team members from this project are all developing the talents within their field as well as learning new skill sets via practice and social interaction. But what I found most interesting and rewarding at the same time, is that the residents of Šilainiai are starting to reconnect and are finding new connections with the place they live in. Through creative activities, they have the opportunity to re-examine their personal histories and the relationships they have with this place.

This process can affect each and every person in a different way. It can evoke such feelings of nostalgia, curiosity or even be part of the healing process from past trauma. This is invaluable for each participant as they in return will be a lot more connected, encouraged, inspired, and ultimately content living in Šilainiai, and that is a lot.


Since the start of this project, culture de-centralisation and better access to cultural activities has become an important part of the official strategy within the culture sector for the city of Kaunas.

Become an art patron

I invite you to become my art patron by supporting my crowd-funding campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/silainiai

And by donating 2% of your income tax (Lithuanian taxpayers only):


Šiemet LR Kultūros ministrė suteikė man, kaip meno kūrėjai, paramos gavėjo statusą ir paramos gavėjo identifikacinį kodą – 72000461.

Turite galimybę tapti mano kūrybos mecenatais pervesdami iki 2 % pajamų mokesčio sumos.

Tai galima padaryti atsispausdinus paramos formą FR0512 ir ją pateikus Valstybinei mokesčių inspekcijai.
Arba per savo elektroninę bankininkystę prisijungus prie deklaravimo sistemos.

Instrukcija pildant internetu:

Paramos gavėjo identifikacijos nr. (kodas) rašomas 1 eilutėje E2 stulpelyje: 72000461.
2% paramą galite skirti užpildę deklaraciją Valstybinės mokesčių inspekcijos interneto svetainėje:

1. Prisijunkite prie Elektroninės deklaravimo sistemos (EDS) VMI svetainėje arba per Jūsų elektroninės bankininkystės sistemą;
2. Pasirinkite “Pildyti portale”, FR0512 formos 02 versiją;
3. Užpildykite aktyvius laukelius:
5 Mokestinis laikotarpis 2016;
6S Mokesčio dalį skiriu paramos gavėjams – uždėti varnelę;
E1 Gavėjo tipas – įrašyti 2;
E2 Gavėjo identifikacinis numeris (kodas) – 72000461;
E4 Mokesčio dalies dydis (procentais) – kaip nuspręsite skirti 2 ar 1 procentą (kitą procentą galite skirti kažkam kitam);
E5 Mokesčio dalį skiriu iki mokestinio laikotarpio – galite įrašyti iki 2020 arba nerašyti nieko, tada bus skiriama tik tiems metams.
4. Spauskite “Pateikti”.

Gautos lėšos bus skiriamos kūrybinėms veikloms Šilainiuose tęsti.

Mano kūrybos portfolio galite pamatyti www.evelinasimkute.com

Ačiū Jums!

Evelina Šimkutė

Fundraising for 2017


Photograph by Artūras Bulota

I invite you all to support the continuation of an amazing, community based art project in Šilainiai post-war housing estate in Kaunas (LT). In 2016, with minimal resources I was able to organise a global artist residence in the neighbourhood, several exhibitions, public walks introducing residents to their seemingly generic but actually extremely diverse community, poetry readings and photography workshops. I would like to continue doing amazing things for the community in 2017 too! Please support and/or share. Thank you very much.


Kind regards, Evelina


Šilainiai Project GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/silainiai
My name is Evelina. I have been living in London for over 10 years and during this time, I have graduated with an honours degree in Fine Art and have also worked in Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.

Despite considering myself as a Londoner, my inspiration for my current work comes from the Šilainiai estate in the city of Kaunas, Lithuania, the place where I grew up.

I have recently started two projects – ‘Šilainiai Photo’ and ‘Šilainiai Project’ in which I have decided to take the next four months to work on them full-time. This is a major step for me as I am funding my time in Lithuania by myself, however as I do not have any other source of funds, I am in much need your help. Please take the time to read the project descriptions below and I hope you will find them as special as I do.

Image: Photography workshop at Grusas Art Gymnasium in Šilainiai.

‘Šilainiai Photo’ is a community photography project. 

–       Šilainiai Visual Archive: a collection of old and new Šilainiai photographs from local residents, accessible online: www.silainiaiphoto.com;

–       Photo-walks in Šilainiai (free and open to everyone);

–       Photography workshops for 13-18 year olds in local schools;

–       Photography exhibitions in Šilainiai, displaying photographs contributed by Šilainiai residents and those created during the photo-walks and photography workshops;

–       Šilainiai Photo publication.

The project aims to raise questions and start conversations about Šilainiai through the medium and process of photography as well as discovering and encouraging creativity in Šilainiai community.

Image: Photography workshop in Šilainiai.

Image: Photo-walk in Šilainiai,  photo by Vita Ku.

Image: Photo-walk in Šilainiai.

‘Šilainiai Project’ is an artist mini-residency program in Šilainiai microdistrict in Kaunas, Lithuania. It invites international artists to stay with a host family in Šilainiai for one to two weeks and make temporary works in public spaces. The residency functions as a managed ‘couch surfing’ but for artists and therefore no money change hands.

In addition to using public spaces for making work, each artist does a presentation/ Artist talk/ Q&A with local community. Extracts from artists’ daily work will be presented online on the project website: www.silainiaiproject.com.

Image: Artist working on location in Šilainiai.

Towards the end of the year, all artists will partake in a group exhibition and it will take place at ‘Kabinetas’ project space Mapu St. 20 Kaunas, 31 October – 14 November 2016.

At the moment the residency is by invitation only.

The artists who will be resident in Šilainiai: June – August 2016, Brooke Carlson (Australia), Francis Olvez-Wilshaw (UK), The Lake Twins (UK).

What are the funds going to be used for?

Šilainiai Photo:

–       Printing photographs

–       Mounting work for exhibition

–       Exhibiting fixtures

–       Small printed publication

Šilaniai Project:

–       Basic drawing materials (paper, pencils, etc)

–       Sculpture materials (wood, steel)

–       Exhibition venue costs

Both myself and participating artists are funding their own travel expenses.

Image: Photography workshop in Šilainiai.

All patrons will be noted on the project’s websites, exhibition and printed material and will receive regular updates of the work in progress.

I feel so strongly about these projects as if they were like a void in my life that I just needed to fill. I know that statement may sound a bit far fetched but but it has been on my mind for many years. Now that I have taken a leap of faith and finally putting it into practice, I couldn’t be more happier and excited of the things to come.

I feel both privileged and thankful to be able to return to Lithuania and create work that I truly love and hopefully that will inspire others to do so as well.

I very much appreciate any of your help and support for me and my projects.  You will be helping me to elevate my projects and my career as an artist to the next level. Thank you all!


Šilainiai Project GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/silainiai

Solo Show – Save the Date

Please save the date for the Evelina Simkute solo show

at ‘Kabinetas’ project space, Mapu g. 20 Kaunas, Lithuania

22 – 31 August 2016.

This exhibition will present Evelinas’ sculptural work to Lithuanian audience for the first time.

Invitation to follow.

Šilainiai Photo


In autumn 2015 I have launched a project called ‘Šilainiai Photo’. It is based in Šilainiai microdistrict in Kaunas, Lithuania. The project involves collecting both archival and new photographs of the area produced by the local community as well as photo-walks and photography workshops in local schools.


Silainiai Photo workshop in Grusas Art Gymnasium, Kaunas 2015.
Photo-walk in Šilainiai, January 2016. Photography: Vita Ku

I am pleased to say that the project has been very well received by the local community. Spring 2016 photo-walk was lead by a local community Association “Šilainių baltai“.

Associacija Silainiu Baltai foto pasivaiksciojimas 2016
Association “Šilainių baltai“ leading the spring photo-walk in Šilainiai, 2016.

I was invited to curate an exhibition in honour of Šilainiai 30th birthday. The exhibition took place in Šilainiai library and featured photographic documents from Lithuanian National Archive, photographs made by Grusas Art Gymnasium students and Romas Simkus and my own works.

Silainiam 30 leaflet
Silainiai Photo launching exhibition, 2015.

You may follow the progress of the project on its website www.silainiaiphoto.com.

More images from the photo-walks are in the Worksop section.

Photographs contributed by the local residents can be found in the Foto section.