22 July 2019

Meet them all at the Jagiellonian Fair

The Jagiellonian Fair is the largest Polish fair gathering artists representing crafts based on regional patterns and techniques. You cannot buy a stall at the Fair. The Organisers on behalf of Workshops of Culture in Lublin select and invite artists whose work is characterised by high artistry. What matters is a reference to local tradition, patterns, family heritage. Moreover, at each Jagiellonian Fair, every artist is evaluated by a special contest jury. This allows the Organisers to control the quality of products presented at the Fair. This year, we will also feature unique folk art presented by traditional artisans. This year’s central theme is beekeeping, so it is worthwhile to keep your eyes out for bee products while walking along the Old Town.

Among the beekeepers, we will meet Jan Dudziński from Tyszowce. The town is famous for a few reasons. One of them is the tradition, supposedly cultivated since the Swedish Deluge, of casting several-metre long candles, kept in St Leonard’s church and used during processions. Furthermore, the town is also famous for high leather boots, the so-called tyszowiaki. Mr Dudzińskcombines these two seemingly remote crafts and has created wax candles in the shape of the shoes. At his stall, we will be able to buy wax shoes and see the process of making the candles.

Miodostynia from Augustów is another stall that cannot be overlooked. Miodostynia grew from a strong interest in apiculture. Their founders are members of Ftatrum Melicidarum specialising in cultivating apiculture traditions in Augustów Forest. They produce meads using traditional recipes and local ingredients. The stall will also offer other honey-based drinks.

At the Fair, we will also meet the Śliczniak family who has been involved in beekeeping for over 40 years. Their farm ULIK runs an itinerant apiary, thus allowing them to obtain around ten varieties of honey. The Śliczniak also sell handmade wax candles, pollen and propolis.

The streets of the Old Town will fill up with unique patterns and styles presenting Polish traditions as well as the unique cultures of other Central East European countries. This year, due to the 450th anniversary of signing the Union of Lublin, Lithuanian artists are especially noteworthy.

Among them, we will meet Vytautas Semelis who makes klumpems, or Lithuanian clogs. This tradition once almost died out but thanks to the efforts of such artists as Vytatuas, it’s slowly being restored.

They were once daily footwear, today they are used, among other things, for presenting Lithuanian dance called klumpakojiswhere dancers use the clogs to beat the rhythm. Vytatuas makes his shoes from light birch and aspen wood. The master says that producing good clogs is like playing an instrument – you need to keep working, practising, improving otherwise the skills quickly get rusty.

Another worthwhile stall to visit is the stall of Violetta Vitkauskaite who in 2018 received the Title of the Distinguished Artist of the Jagiellonian Fair, awarded every year to the best artisans. This talented Lithuanian artist specialises in wickerwork. Violetta makes not only baskets traditionally linked with wickerwork but also bags or backpacks which she meticulously finishes with leather and wood. The trademark of this Kaunas-based artist are delicate shapes and toned down and consciously chosen colours of wicker.

At the Fair, we will also meet Agata Granicka who makes traditional Vilnius’ Easter palms. It’s good to remember that these palms, made of dry plants and tinted flowers arrived in Poland only after World War II, partially replacing local traditions of making palms using green twigs. If you want to get acquainted with genuine Vilnius’ palms, it’s worthwhile to visit her stall. Her family has been specialising in this craft for seven generations. Agata will also run a workshop on making the palms – the workshop requires registration.

Another must-see is the stall of Roma Gudaitienė who specialises in ritual and decorative art. The Jagiellonian Fair’s visitors may remember her straw pająki. Roma has inherited her skills from her mother and grandmother. Ms Gudaitienė thus continues both family and regional traditions.

While looking for The Jaqgiellonian Fair souvenirs, the stall of Odeta Tuménaité-Bražėnienė is a must stop. Since 1983, she has been making traditional Lithuanian cut-outs, woodcuts and pysanky. She has learned the art of decorating Easter eggs from her mother and grandmother, while woodcutting and papercutting she has learned on her own. Anyone interested in exploring the secrets of Lithuanian papercutting will have an opportunity to do so in the workshop she will run at the festival.

This year, around one-third of artisans will be new. You will be able to get the map of stalls in our Information points.