Jūratė Batura Lemke is a Lithuanian artist who spent part of her life in Toronto, Canada. She now lives in the German town of Hüttenfeld, home of the Vasario 16 Lithuanian high school. Born in 1948, in a German refugee camp where her parents stayed after fleeing the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, she recounted her memories in an interview with LRT.lt.
When the refugee camp closed, the family had to choose where to go next. At that time, only men could go to Canada, while Australia accepted full families. Jūratė’s parents did not want to be separated again, so they moved to Australia. They spent six years there and later moved to Canada. Here, Jūratė met her future husband Vilius. At the time, he was performing with the Baltic Quintet, and the couple met at their concert. The couple married in 1973, and later moved to Germany, where Vilius worked at the Lithuanian high school in Germany, and they could be closer to Lithuania, where their families lived.
Jūratė first visited Lithuania in 1984. “When I go to Lithuania, I still feel that I belong there. Canada is beautiful, my friends and family are there. I love it, but I don’t feel like it’s my home. Lithuania is my homeland,” Jūratė told LRT. Everything in Lithuania felt familiar – even cakes at the bakery tasted like the ones her mother used to make.
Preservation of the Lithuanian language is important to Jūratė and Vilius. She says that although her husband is a Lithuanian German, he is very protective of the Lithuanian language.
The couple also passed the Lithuanian language on to their children. Their granddaughters also understand Lithuanian. However, it is more difficult when the family is mixed, and the grandchildren no longer have direct ties to Lithuania, Jūratė admits.
While living in Toronto, she graduated from Lakeshore Teachers’ College and, in 1973, the Ontario College of Art. She had won awards for art in school, designed stage sets, and had numerous consignments for graphic design. In 1970 she illustrated the book Famous Lithuanian Women by D.M. and V. Anysas, published in Toronto. Since 1978 Jūratė has been living in Germany, working as a freelance artist and teaching art. Her work ranges from miniature paintings to wall murals. German critics have compared her drawings to Albrecht Durer’s work. She also creates in water colours, acrylic, oil, collage and mixed media. She has participated in various group exhibitions and had solo shows in Canada, Germany and Lithuania.
Jūratė has been kind enough to provide tevzib.com with several photos of herself and her work.