An Interview With: Gretė Tvarkūnaitė

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Gretė, final year (BA hons) Photography student at Huddersfield University. I am also a co-founder of the Artistai // Gretė and Mantas, where me and my beloved work as freelancers in various fields of art.

How did you get into what you do?

Both of us were born in Panevėžys, Lithuania and so grow up with the sea, the forest and the fields, and the sound of guitars echoing in the empty streets of this grey, Eastern European city with its’ conservative features. We never felt belonging to the city and its’ cultural spirit but deeply loved nature around and that way, I suppose, we became seeking for naturalness, passionate about arts, interested in social behavior and wondering. After we left Lithuania to study in England, decision that was also made out of curiosity, we were encountered with a glossy western world. Even though the feeling of modern world contrasts was already in our blood, this confrontation has manifested in all areas of perception and strongly influenced desire to create and narratives of creations.

How do you work?

We produce photographs, montages, music, writings and drawings (including graphics, paintings and digital). The way we work is every time different. From absolute experiments to thoughtful constructions, but always with love and dedication.

Our new project, on which we are working recently, also includes video footage – our first road trip movie, in which we are hitchhiking around Europe (Spain, Andorra, France, Switzerland, Germany and Poland to come back to Lithuania in 2015 summer). And actually, exactly now, while I am answering these questions, Mantas is planning our new adventure for January.

How would you describe your work?

As I do all kinds of artwork - and also in collaboration with my beloved - portfolio is very various. However, the intimacy of humans, physical environments and relationship to the economic and intellectual conditions that determine them, are my main concerns. These concerns arose differently in some series of photographs, drawings, writings that I do, and generally, they accompany and push me into every action that I take in my life. However, it is addressed most in the artworks that are born from traveling. Deliberately cinematic photography reveals the act of escaping regular lives into newly wondrous but perilous modes of existence. It is a glance to friends and strangers, to my beloved and me, ever in search of the persistent, though elusive idea of love and freedom while encountering modern world phenomenon.

What is your background?

I was born in 1994 in Lithuania, where I attended School of Fine Arts and graduated Juozas Balcikonis Gymnasium in 2013. I also was and still am really passionate about horse riding and had been doing it for four years.

On the last year of high school I also engaged with European Youth Projects. I went to Diyarbakır, Turkey to get a better understanding about the Kurdish nation and historical cave-based village that was in danger to be destroyed by the new construction of water power station. Through this experience I met lots of people, from all around the Europe, taking care about social justice and got encouraged to wonder even more.

Mantas graduated the same gymnasium in 2013 and spent most of his time playing guitar and drawing. He started to play when he was ten years old and belongs to a Lithuanian band that plays ska, reggae, punk music.

After graduation both of us came to Huddersfield, England, where we spent last two years engaging in degree-related studies and projects. For me photography, and Mantas – music.

Both of us are eternal travellers, and so, we tend to pack our huge bags, take a tent and just go wondering without any fixed destination or route in mind, while meeting a bunch of interesting people, seeing marvelous nature and creating art.

Where does your inspiration come from?

From the fields, sky, sea, people, noise, silence, blackness, dots… From everywhere and nowhere.

P.S. I actually never understood those lists of favourite photographers that people are usually prepared to give in order to answer this question. However, if it is what I am supposed to say here, my last discovery was Antoine Bruy work that is, in my opinion, critical, penetrative, different and so, worth looking.

Why photography?

Why not? It all started when I was ten and my sister gave me her old camera, so I started to experiment with it. But even though photography is one of the oldest fields in which I am interested, it does not mean that it defines me. I do and I do love to do a lot of different things. Actually, I even think that it is vital in every life not to get stuck with one field of interest but to truly try as many as you can. And not only try, but most importantly – understand. That way, all things eventually merge into one and the wide river runs through it.

What are you goals after University?

I am one of those spontaneous people so future sounds a bit too far for me. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that I will continue to create art, travel, wonder, question and strive for my dreams to come true. Too many happen to be fulfilled not to be optimistic. And so, maybe a van with a little studio inside and never ending travel with my beloved might be one of the options for a future plan.

Is there any specific equipment you use?

Every photographer uses light and camera. It might be a artificial light that usually requires more strange machineries. It might be a natural light that works all right alone, and so is more appropriate for my photographic work, especially when I travel. As for camera, I use Nikon DF because it is light and comfortable for me. Also, I never forget to take my imagination whatever I am creating. It is one of the most important things that I have.

Whats the best piece of advice you could give the readers of The Pupil Sphere?

Always stay true to yourself.


All images copyright ofGretė Tvarkūnaitė


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