Call for creators to submit applications: Shepherds and Spindles residency

Verpėjos (The Spinners) is inviting interdisciplinary artists to an artistic residency in the Kabeliai village in Lithuania for July – August 2024.

Verpėjos‘ “Shepherds and Spindles” residency project will invite interdisciplinary artists to work on their own proposed art research project in our given frame, conditions and aims: to explore and rethink the themes of traditional rural lifestyle and nature conservation, to empower discourse on processes and changes both locally and globally. The two selected artists will stay and work in a homestead with traditional log house, a courtyard, garden, and various outbuildings, living for two months together and sharing the responsibility of shepherding the herd of 50 sheep and include spinning wool in their artistic practice. 

We offer them an authentic rural experience and the opportunity to work closely with the local people and neighbors: small farmers, naturalists and craftspeople, who will be happy to share their skills and knowledge.

Artists will be encouraged to commune not only with the villagers, animals, and plants around them but also between each other: the daily life and routines of the two artists living together will call for new forms of artistic inquiry and dialogues.

The mentors – professional artists from Verpėjos’ team will support the residents with connections to local community, help with their work, development of their artistic thinking and other work related issues, organise artist talk events and artists’ workshops.

Verpėjos‘ residency is designed to focus on the slow process of artistic research and the long-term value for the participating creators and audience. At the end of the residency, artists are not expected to have completed their art projects, but rather to have gained experiences, communities, and discoveries that will help them in their further creative work. 

In close communion with animals and nature, we invite the creators to rethink the relationship between contemporary humans and the environment in the epoch of the Anthropocene.

We support art, that has no visual pollution and prefer working with artists who work with conceptual, artistic research related and inclusive projects. Artists will work in the given residency framework together with sheep. Our sheep are primitive breed and are freely and extensive grazing without fencing, so lanscape has no permanent artifacts but has it’s cultural and natural fluidity. We support the sustainability of artistic process and promote art, that does not produce garbage, both as byproduct of it’s production stage or after presentation is finished – deliberately intangible works and works created with organic materials and with the concept of decomposition in time. The long term impact for both artists, community and environment and new experiences and connections is very important for us. In close communion with sheep and other beings we intend to integrate agriculture, ecology, heritage and social sciences into arts. Plants and animals, fungi and lichens, remember more than humans, and ecologists are learning more about how everything is connected. Scientists say that people will love and protect nature when they learn about it. But there are still unknowable and invisible particles and their connections. It is not enough to know, we need to participate and make connections for each one of us. That is why spinning wool as a movement can help us to love nature, even if we do not fully understand everything in it. We can spin without any practical purpose, just being in a meadow together is awakening.

Scholarship and expenses

Each participant is to receive a grant of EUR 1500 and travel grant (to cover travel to residency and back from EUR 350 up to EUR 700, depending on distance and means of transportation).

Duration of the residencies

2 months, from 1 July to 29 August 2024.

Working and living conditions

Participants will stay in an old log house in the village of Kabeliai, within the residency’s premises. It is a small, simply furnished house, which will have to be shared by two artists living together. It has two small rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. There is plumbing, hot water, wood-burning stoves for cooking and bread baking, cold cellar, wi-fi. Bicycles are available.

Working spaces: Barn studio 40m², log house studio 35m² with wood heating and cooking stove, cold cellar and library. Outdoor spaces 600m² with orchard, garden, old oak and linden trees and fireplace. Equipment: manual tools for woodworking (hammers, axes, handsaws, planes, chisels, carving knifes, workbench) and for wool processing (hand carders, spindles, spinning wheels, winder, niddy-noddy, swift), traditional weaving loom, felting mats, wool dyeing pots and supplies. 

Materials: plenty raw and carded wool and different type of wood (wood for greenworking will be provided upon request). Other local natural materials can be provided and used. We can provide assistance of traditional craftspeople in the area: straw garden maker, reed roofing master, tree beekeeper, basketry master, ropemaker, cheesmaker, band weaver, candlemaker. At the nearby Dzūkija national park visitor centre we can connect artists to ecologists, geografers, ethnografers for consultations and guided tours.

One of the barns will house sheep, which will need to be let out to graze, kept from wandering into other people’s territories, and given water. The sheep get up early, go out to graze when it is not hot, and come home at noon. The second time they need to be taken out in the evening. The two artists in residence at the time will share the responsibility of shepherding the sheep, each having to spend 4 hours a day in the company of sheep.

Presentation to the public

During the residency, artists will be asked to give a workshop and to participate in Verpėjos‘ residency open days to present their work to the public.

Application form

We are inviting you to fill in the application form  before 20 September 2023.


The Spinners team will select artists through an open call based on the following criteria: 

– Ability to collaborate creatively in a two-person household;

– Ability to create in the community, involving participants of all ages and capabilities in the creative process;

– Motivation to get up early and spend a lot of time outdoors with the sheep to immerse oneself in the processes of nature and the world of animals, insects, and plants without fear of bad weather;

– Professionalism;

– Manual craft skills and desire to learn new things; 

– Sustainable, eco-friendly and waste-free approach to the creative process and lifestyle;

– Interdisciplinarity, encompassing different artistic fields.

Interdisciplinary artists are welcome to apply from every section of society regardless of their cultural background, sex, age or sexual orientation, legally residing in the folowing countries:

Albania, Austria, Armenia, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia and Ukraine;

Including their Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and (ORs) Outermost Regions of the European Union:

Overseas Countries and Territories:

Greenland (Denmark), French Polynesia (France), New Caledonia (France), Saint Barthelemy (France), St. Pierre and Miquelon (France), Wallis and Futuna Islands (France), Aruba (The Netherlands), Bonaire (The Netherlands), Curaçao (The Netherlands), Saba (The Netherlands), Sint Maarten (The Netherlands), Sint Eustatius (The Netherlands).

Outermost regions:

French Guiana (France), Guadeloupe (France), Martinique (France), Mayotte (France), Reunion Island (France), Saint- Martin (France), Azores (Portugal), Madeira (Portugal), Canary Islands (Spain).

All applicants will be informed about the open call results via email by 1 October.

Verpėjos (The Spinners) is an independent art initiative founded in 2017 by artist Laura Garbštienė in the Marcinkonys municipality, Varėna district of South Lithuania. Verpėjos aims to explore and rethink the themes of traditional rural lifestyle and nature conservation, to empower discourse on processes and changes both locally and globally. Since 2019, Verpėjos has been curating the Marcinkonys Railway station gallery, with an international art residency program starting in 2020.

Photo credits: Neringa Greičiutė