Preparing for an exhibition in Basque Country

Last fall Claire Kujundzic and I received an invitation from GKo Gallery in Tolosa in Basque Country to exhibit our work in April. I had been wanting to return to Tolosa and the surrounding area where I had been in October, 2013 while apprenticing in paper making with Juan Barbé at his Eskulan studio in Zizurkil (see blog posts from that period). While there, I had met Garikoitz at GKo, thanks to a tip from Brian Cullen at the visitor centre. After discussing the invitation for about one minute, we decided to go, even if we weren’t successful accessing some travel assistance from the BC Arts Council or the Canada Council.

In January I started making inquiries about the best way to deal with bringing our art through Spanish customs and back to Canada. Melissa Gruber at CARFAC National kindly wrote the Canadian Trade Commissioner in Spain to ask about proper documentation, taxes, etc. Susan Madsen, Richard Tetrault and Gregg Simpson shared their art travel experiences, which was helpful. In the end, following the advice of a customs broker in Bilbao, we paid the Canadian Chamber of Commerce $315 + a deposit of 40% of the retail value of our work in order to have an ATA-Carnet document. Supposedly this is the simplest way to deal with temporary imports.

Preparing our artist’s talks took a couple of days. I saved some time by editing previous versions, but it still took a long time going back and forth between QuarkXPress, Illustrator and Acrobat to finalize our PDFs 😉


Claire took charge of packing our artwork. Except for two larger prints, I was showing small and miniature silkscreens, all matted with archival backings and ready to pin to the gallery walls. Claire’s canvas paintings and “trees” could roll up, and everything fit in our suitcases. We didn’t have to carry any wooden cleats for her paintings, as Garikoitz had offered to cut them at Box.A Arte Elkarte’s workshop. And we didn’t have to squeeze any metal rings into our luggage, because Juantxo Garmendia’s website was very kindly making two custom rings for us, complete with little hanger loops, at his workshop in Atseasu. He is an artist-wizard with steel and iron!





A week before leaving Wells, where we had had the mildest winter in 20 years and the least amount of snow anyone could remember, we changed our tires back to summer treads from winter. Naturally, a few centimetres were waiting for us when we left home at 6 am, and a bit more on the plateau south of 100 Mile House!


We reached Vancouver in time for a short, but lovely visit with Alan Zisman and Linda Read, who generously loaned us Kate’s old (new to us) smartphone, plus a nifty charging expansion cable. Then Susan Madsen and Stephen Mitchell generously hosted us overnight with a delicious supper and breakfast, then driving us to the airport. We are so fortunate to have such fine friends!

After visiting customs with our ATA-Carnet, we boarded Air France Vancouver-Paris-Bilbao.

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