Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts, in collaboration with Curonian Spit National Park and Verpėjos, the artist-run residency and project space in rural Dzūkija in Lithuania, seeks a participant for a shepherd’s residency June–October 2021.
Context: Neringa Forest Architecture
Neringa Forest Architecture (NFA) is a project conducted by NAC to address the material cycle of the forests of the Curonian Spit. Here during 200 years of afforestation and sequential planning the environment has been and is created to manage natural geomorphological processes. NFA investigates this cultural landscape as a case study in the context of the Baltic and Scandinavian forests, considering it as an entanglement of ecologies, representations, and both colonial and industrial narratives. We perceive the forest as an active construction site and a material resource – a harvested area that is simultaneously protected, cultivated, simulated, and managed. Within NFA, we seek for tools to introduce processes to explore in-depth engagement with this particular artificially constructed landscape.
Throughout 2020 we have established ways to retrieve locally logged timber and introduce it as material in the NAC residency, study, and artistic programmes. Further on, we have sought to engage with local municipal agencies to initiate cultural projects that highlight the urgency for developing new relationships with the environment.
As a further step in this process, in 2021 we will introduce one more collaborator to this process: a herd of 26 Skudde breed sheep belonging to the artist Laura Garbštienė (Verpėjos),especially adequate for landscape grazing. For the duration of summer and early autumn seasons the sheep will be brought from Dzūkija to stay in the forests and deforested areas in Nida, inhabit the landscape, graze, and become cohabitants in this structure of protected wildlife, tourism, forestry management, and cultural practices. The sheep will function as catalysts to engage with current political considerations in landscape and space management.
We seek a participant with artistic, scientific, and/or socio-political practice in agroecology or agroforestry, and experience in working with sheep and shepherding to become the shepherd for this sheep herd. These sheep are used to at least two daily substantial walks through seasonal rural landscapes. In addition to the daily taking care of the sheep: providing water, looking after their wellbeing, and adjusting the electrical fence (only used during the night), we seek for someone interested in developing and conducting a series of activities for the public programme of NFA. These should involve sheep either as part of Neringa Forest Architecture Tours, offering participation to long walks with sheep in the Neringa forest in order to set a beginning for a nomadic sheep-herding culture in Neringa, or conduct workshops, work with wool, herbs, and landscape and other related practices. The activities should correspond to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Stipend and costs:
The shepherd will receive a monthly stipend of 600 EUR and additional travel costs.
Residency start: 1 June
5 months June–October
3 months: June–August
2 months September–October
Application deadline: 4 May
Who can apply
Practitioners from all disciplines are welcome to apply. Their practice should have an artistic, scientific, and/or socio-political outreach with strong interest in agroecology or agroforestry and interest in sharing their practice. They should bring along experience, endurance, and patience in working with animals, especially sheep.
The sheep are based at shifting locations in a 1km radius from NAC, where the shepherd will reside. The shepherd will work alone, though they can seek occasional advice and help from a vet, the sheep owner Laura Garbštienė (not residing in Nida) as well as National Park rangers. The sheep upkeep in this landscape is mostly dependent upon manual labor with little machinery support: for example carrying water is done by hand. The National Park provides electrical fencing for containing the sheep throughout the night; the shepherd will be in charge of operating it.
NAC provides a live/work studio of 65m2 equipped with basic kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and workspace facilities. Additionally, full access is given to the common spaces such as the library and the professional workshop (with weaving looms, ceramic kiln, laser cutting, wood and metalworking tools, plus digital photo, video, and sound equipment).
In addition, residents have access to naturally seasoned, Neringa-sourced timber boards cut during the 2019/2020 and 2021 logging season and stored on-site at NAC (subject to availability).
The NAC residency program can host up to five international residents at a time. In addition to the international residencies, NAC organises educational and research projects as well as exhibitions. NAC is a department of Vilnius Academy of Arts and hosts students’ seminars and work retreats.
(1) Completed application form.
(2) Portfolio, sample of work, or publications (selection of 3–5 relevant projects)
(3) Current CV (max. 2 A4 pages)
(4) Submit all documents in PDF format, in a single file, in the order listed above using the following title: ‘Full Name_ Shepherd’.
*Submit your application and related application questions to:
Residency Coordinator, Skaistė Marčienė: email@example.com 
Selection process and criteria
Applications are assessed by the Neringa Forest Architecture curatorial team and Laura Garbštienė. Evaluations are based on the applicants’ submitted materials according to the following criteria:
– relevant, sufficient and continuous experience, working with proposed subject matter and residency theme;
– quality and innovation of the proposed activities, possible research question(s) and/or perspectives, and their relationship to the applicants’ field(s) of practice
– reliability in conducting work alone, as a shepherd, guaranteeing for daily upkeeping and safety of the animals.
The project is co-funded by NERINGA Lithuanian Capital of Culture 2021.