Sculpture “A Stairway to Heaven and its Shadow”
Vladas Urbanavičius was born in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia in 1951. He completed sculpture studies at the State Institute of Arts of the Lithuanian SSR in 1977. In 2015, the sculptor was awarded the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts for the harmony of thought and form in contemporary sculpture.
Vladas Urbanavičius did not plan to work in the field of church art at first, but nevertheless became involved in monastery restoration work in 1992. He was often asked to make projects for church and chapel spaces and design liturgical implements. The sculptor has worked in the chapel of St James Hospital in Vilnius (1993), the sacristy of Vilnius Bernardine church (1994), the chapel of St George Convent in Kaunas (1995–1996), the Church St Ignatius of Loyola in Želva (1996–1998), the chapel of the Sisters of the Congregation of the Eucharistic Jesus in Vilnius (1997), the chapel of the Sisters of the Providence of God in Panevėžys (2003). In the church of Bl. Jurgis Matulaitis in Vilnius, Vladas Urbanavičius installed the presbytery and the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2004).
Sculpture “The Boat” was presented in the Church Heritage Museum in 2013. Vladas Urbanavičius also participated in a common exhibition of six artists “Let’s Inherit Our Future: About the Provocations of Sacral Spaces” (2015), organized by the museum in the Church of the Ascension of Our Lord in Vilnius. His sculpture “A Stairway to Heaven and its Shadow” was installed in the courtyard of the Church Heritage Museum in Vilnius in 2020.
In 1992, I have found a closer relationship with the Church. Formal barriers disappeared, which I had been looking forward to for a long time. Following a suggestion from Vaidotas Žukas, I became more actively involved in the work of establishing [chapels and churches of] monastic communities, especially the Franciscans. I had always wanted to create something for the Church. I met people who helped make it come true. All other matters became less important. Both when studying in Vilnius, and visiting the parish church in my hometown, I always saw how long it takes for church interiors to become renewed. I was looking forward to a time when I would be invited to make something for them, even if it were something small.
When the Franciscans re-established themselves, my work began from tables and benches. It was interesting to contribute to the renewal of the reclaimed spaces. For example, the sacristy had previously been converted into a canteen for the Institute of Arts, in which we ourselves once ate and raised hell… That is why I rarely had time to participate in exhibitions during that decade. The design and construction of the Hill of Crosses monastery began. I was invited to take part in that process. It was like a gift from God.
A fragment of the interview with Birutė Pankūnaitė (2015)