It’s worth visiting Tolosa just to visit the TOPIC puppet museum which houses an amazing collection from around the world, but plan on spending at least half a day in there. An animated puppet will greet you in one of several languages as you enter a labyrinth of displays, projections and exhibitions.
One of my favourites sections is a long corridor of shadow puppets; the 1955 film by Jean Painleve of the US sculptor Alexander Calder performing his “Circus” is enchanting, too. The poster collection is outstanding.
The temporary exhibition I saw displayed work by Enkarni Genua & Manolo Gomez of Txotxongillo Taldea who have worked in puppetry and theatre since 1971. TOPIC also organizes occasional workshops and has an online archive of posters, festivals, books, etc.
My papermaking apprenticeship had ended, and I planned to take the RENFE and Euskotren trains back to Donostia and Bilbao, then a bus to Oña where Dorien Jongsma from El Hacedor could meet me. There were no buses running to Oña that Saturday, though, because it was Columbus Day (!), so I had to wait another day to make this trip. This meant I’d have less time at El Hacedor, but the bonus was a last chance to walk around Tolosa, Hernialde, Anoeta and Billabona with a camera.
Plus I received a supper invitation at Boxa Arte Elkarte studios with Garikoitz and Xabi!
They thought I was a bit crazy taking trains instead of buses, which are faster, but coming from a country where successive governments have hollowed out or privatized train travel, I enjoy them. And then the little bus on a windy highway makes for a pleasant contrast.
I was sad to leave Zuloaga Txiki, though, where Carmen, Iñaki and José had made me feel so much at home.
There’s always something to work on at El Hacedor – Imágenes y Palabras in La Aldea del Portillo de Busto, and watching Dorien install a new set of windows in her house was inspiring. I’ll never complain about renovating with old Douglas Fir again: it may be hard to hammer nails into without pre-drilling, but it’s not stone!
I had brought a silkscreen from Wells with two different sized photostencils of the El Hacedor logo, but what should we print?
After considering various possibilities, we settled on printing the logo at both ends of fabric “scarves” that could be used for a number of activities. Since Dorien has a couple of burros that live in a lovely corral just down the road, we could easily envision a kind of Dadaist chorus of the Burros of Burgos!
It took half a day to sort and cut material, then much of another day to set up and print the scarves. The nylon ones were very tricky to print, because of static cling; my favourite fabric/colour combination was the natural cotton with dark green ink. I look forward to seeing them fluttering in the wind some day, whether from people, animals or trees 😉
My pending return flight to Canada had a departure time of 0655 hours, so I needed to be in Bilbao the night before. There are very few transit options from Oña, let alone from La Aldea, and Emilio kindly arranged for a rideshare for me via BlablaCar.
After a quick detour to Miranda de Ebro (sadly, not enough time to visit my friends Eduardo Alvarado & Cristina Montoya & their family) to check on the new windows, Dorien and Emilio dropped me off in Pancorbo where I loaded my gear into the car of a national police officer (I figured this ought to be a safe ride!), who kindly dropped me at a Bilbao metro station and only asked for four Euros towards gas. Another generous person in this country that’s experiencing such acute economic challenges.
I didn’t have nearly enough time to spend with Dorien, Emilio and Edo, but they were wonderful hosts as always and I was very grateful for their warm welcome and hospitality.
At the end of nearly a month of learning, discovery and new friendships, it was time to go home. Gracias a tod@s – eskerrik asko – agur!