Tag Archives: art

An art trip to Japan

On November 1, 2019, I learned that my print Babarrunak Raku (see previous post) had won a Prize of Excellence in the 7th NBC Meshtec Tokyo International Screen Print Biennale. It was to be exhibited at Yurakucho Asahi Gallery between November 22 and 27, 2019 and the award ceremony would take place in Tokyo on November 25. It was short notice, and Claire and I did not have a budget for it, but we decided to go.

Our friend Murray Gudmunson at TieroneTravel booked Korean Airlines flights for us (Vancouver-Seoul-Haneda, Osaka Kansai-Seoul-Vancouver), and we found an inexpensive hotel room in the Ginza area of downtown Tokyo within walking distance of the exhibition and awards night. It was also easy to visit the old Asakusa neighbourhood where our friend Aki used to live. The weekend was windy and wet!

On the weekend of our arrival, we rendezvous’d with a Polish-born screen printer and ceramic artist, Ewelina Skowronska and her partner Tom at a concert of some very creative new music during a Polish cultural festival taking place at the large Tokyo International Forum in recognition of 100 years of diplomatic relations between Poland and Japan.

She introduced us to Pawel Pachciarek, the Japan Desk Producer for the Adam Mickiewicz Institute who was involved in organizing the festival.  Ewelina has spent time at the Banff Centre and it was interesting to hear about what it’s like for artists in Tokyo: studio access, the cost of rent, exhibition opportunities, print sales, etc.

We enjoyed learning how to use the Tokyo Metro and find our way around such a large city:

The Biennale gallery was upstairs in the Yurakucho Mullion Building in a very busy Ginza district near the massive Tokyo International Forum. Mr. Matsuda Hidekazu of NBC Meshtec, the Biennale’s sponsor, had spent over a week hanging 100 of the 333 prints received from 33 countries, and welcomed us to the exhibition.

NBC Meshtec was established in 1934 and started manufacturing high quality meshes for flour milling. It now develops mesh-based technologies used in filter production, screen printing, computers, cars and train passes. They are also developing meshes that harness nanotechnology. You can see a company video here – watch for the “fractal sunshade” product!

We spent a long time looking at the exhibition and returned two more times in order to absorb the remarkable range of work. The Biennale committee had produced a lovely full colour 36 page catalogue, as they had in previous years.

The award ceremony at Ginza Lion in Tokyo  was wonderful. There was a table of delicious food, various drinks circulating, and beautiful floral arrangements.

Tasty treats await us! photo by Claire.

The evening began with several speeches, including representatives of NBC Meshtec (the sponsor of the Biennale) and the Jury members: Tatsuo Matsuyama (Chief editor of the journal Hanga Geijutsu), Reiichi Noguchi (a curator of Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo ), Yukie Takagi (Assistant director of The International Print Art Museum, Machida, Tokyo), Takasuke Nakayama (screen print artist), and Akiya Fukada (President of NBC MESHTEC Inc.)

Takasuke Nakayama speaking on behalf of the other members of the jury.

With the help of Google Translate, proof-read by Kanako Nozoe at the hotel front desk, I managed to give my acceptance speech in Japanese:

I am Bill Horne. Watashinonamaeha Bill Horne わたし Bill Horne
I do not speak Japanese – yet! Nihon gogade kimasen – Imadani! 未だに
Dahooja – This means “hello” in the indigenous language where we live in Canada.
Dahooja – Kore wa, watashitachi ga Kanada ni sunde iru Indo no neitibu gengo no `kon’nichiwa’ o imi shimasu. Dahoojaこれは、私たちがカナダに住んでいるインドのネイティブ言語の「こんにちは」を意味します。
I am honoured to be part of the Biennale and I am very happy to be in Japan.
Watashi wa Biennale ni sanka dekita koto o kōei ni omotte ori, Nihon ni iru koto o totemo ureshiku omotte imasu.
私はビエンナーレに参加できたことを光栄に思っており、日本にいることをとても嬉しく思っています。
Thanks to NBC Meshtec, the judges and to Matsuda-san.
NBC Meshtec, shinsa-in, Matsuda-shi ni kansha shimasu.
NBC Meshtec、審査員、松田氏に感謝します。
Thanks to my wife, Claire Kujundzic, who is also an artist, and to our friends and family who helped us come here. Geijutsukade mo aru tsuma no Claire Kujundzic, soshite watashitachi ga koko ni kuru no o tasukete kureta yūjin ya kazoku ni kansha shimasu.
芸術家でもある妻のクレア・クジュンジッチ、そして私たちがここに来るのを助けてくれた友人や家族に感謝します。
Congratulations to my fellow artists for their beautiful work!
Watashi no nakama no ātisuto no utsukushī sakuhin ni omedetōgozaimasu.
私の仲間のアーティストの美しい作品におめでとうございます。
Screen printing is fun! Sukurīn insatsu wa tanoshī!
スクリーン印刷は楽しい!
Connecting people from around the world gives me hope and joy.
Sekaijū no hitobito o tsunagu koto de, kibō to yorokobi ga e raremasu.
世界中の人々をつなぐことで、希望と喜びが得られます。
Thank-you. Arigatōgozaimashita. ありがとうございました。

Award presentation by Mr Akiya Fukada; Claire Kujundzic photo.

Tatsuo Matsuyama proposes a toast. photo courtesy of Matsuda-san.

Audience gets ready for the toast. Photo courtesy of Matsuda-san.

It was great to meet the other artists, the jurors and the people from Meshtec, including its President, Mr Akiya Fukada. Also from NBC Meshtec: Takuya Ikeda, Shigeo Kanada, Tetsuya Kido, and Yui Akiyama, as well as Matsuda Hidekazu. I gifted as many of my Behind the Lines catalogues as I could, and exchanged many business cards.

I also had the opportunity to meet Mr Akinobu Kochiya, CEO of Screen Printing Magazine, Masami Nakagawa from the monthly magazines Art Collectors and The Window of Arts, Masakazu Naito, President of the Japanese Screen & Digital Printers Association, and Hiroko Kurimoto, Editor at Abe Publishing in Tokyo, Lisa Eidt, the daughter of Johannes who won the Prize of NBC Meshtec, but could not attend, and Mirjam Cuk Moishi from the Slovenian Embassy who accepted a Prize of Excellence on behalf of Matjaz Penko.

With fellow prize winners, Kanda, Kei and Erica; Claire Kujundzic photo.

With Mr Shigeo Kanada and Mr Takuya Ikeda of NBC Meshtec.

Our prizes were beautifully designed, produced and packaged. The event was planned in great detail and all of us were glad we attended.

The next day we took a train from Tokyo to Hiroshima, then another one north to Miyoshi where Rikio Hakudo Hashimoto met us at the station.

Rikio is a master potter, filmmaker, and long time friend of our friends Isao Sanami-Morrill, her son Kai and Burt Cohen of Potters Without Borders (whose logo Claire designed). He lives in a traditional Japanese house in the mountains north of Misato. Inside is a kotatsu table, an indoor studio, an attic gallery/meeting place, and nearby is a separate building with a large Anagama (wood-firing) kiln he has built.

Rikio was a warm and generous host who not only picked us up at the Miyoshi train station, but took time to show us special places in his area, including the Kurasuyado Lodge, a restored samurai-era building in a UNESCO village that now operates as a very special lodging with only three suites. His friend Takuro Onodera kindly showed us around the building and explained many details of the renovation process, much of which was done by Rebuilding Center Japan. We felt very fortunate to spend time with Rikio, to be able to cook together in his kitchen, and to exchange gifts of prints and ceramics.

Our next destination was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  Both Claire and I had been active in the anti-nuclear movement of the early 1980s, and through Headlines Theatre, I had met the late Kinuko Laskey who was a Hibakusha – survivor of the first blast. The museum, surrounding parks, memorials and the nearby Hall of Remembrance are powerful, profound places.

From Hiroshima we took a train west to Fukuoka where Yasumasa Matsumata met us at the Hakata station. Our mutual friend Dorien Jongsma had introduced us through Facebook (!) and he is an accomplished, experienced painter who creates landscapes and abstracts in a variety of media. Both he and his wife Yuko, who works as a translator, speak Spanish, and that was our common language during our visit there!

Like Rikio, Yasumasa and Yuko were warm, thoughtful and generous. We enjoyed a visit to Yasumasa’s studio and exchanged a variety of prints and paintings. They introduced us to all sorts of foods and grocery stores and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with them. Yasumasa also helped us ship a box of our things to the Osaka Kansai airport so we wouldn’t have to lug them on the train. Brilliant!

Yasumasa took us to the Komyozen-ji temple in Dazaifu southeast of Fukuoka. It was founded in 1273 and includes a beautiful Zen garden, as well as many wonderful buildings, shrines and bridges. On our way there we stopped for some special goodies:

This is a very special place.

On the weekend we took a train south to Hizen-Kashima where Rikio’s son Machiyu met us at the station. He drove us about 20 minutes from town and dropped us at the foot of a mountain. Then we started climbing a long series of stone steps up past several shrines until we reached the Sue-ji Zen temple where he, his wife Yuko and their two children live. It also happened to be the site of an exhibition of his wonderful wood-fired ceramics.

 Yuko prepared a fabulous lunch for us which we enjoyed with two friends of theirs who were visiting from Nagasaki. We bought some ceramics and gave them some of our prints and reproductions. In spite of the language barriers, we had a remarkable – at times moving – conversation using Google Translate!

After tea, Machiyu drove us back to the train station and we continued south to Nagasaki where we visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Once again, a powerful, profound experience.

Imagine our reactions when, on a wall at the end of a final display charting the arms race and peace movements, we saw a photo of protesters in Vancouver surrounding a train loaded with nuclear weapons. In this way, the trip brought us full circle in our own lives together as young activist-artists.

Vancouver protest photo.

[more on the “We Resist” shirt in the ^ above photo gallery ^ here.]

We emerged from the museum into a beautiful Nagasaki evening.

Crescent moon over downtown Nagasaki.

In our haste, we jumped onto the wrong train, which stopped after two stations and everyone got off. We returned to Nagasaki’s Urakami Station to await the next [correct] fast train back north to Hakata station in Fukuoka. Derailments on the line delayed our departure, which gave us time to buy some snacks and reflect on a very full day.

We enjoyed one last night in Fukuoka and in the morning, Yuko and Yasumasa took us to a big, two-storey second hand store, then a  large 100 Yen store. After a last meal with our friends, they took us to the station from which we took a train back east to Kobe. We had booked a room at Guesthouse Maya, a unique, funky and friendly hostel in a diverse neighbourhood full of artisans, artists’ studios and small shops.

Park, Maya’s coordinator, invited us to take his market tour and two other guests – Chieko Arai, who works in sustainable development, and designer Chris Tomoya – came as well. For just 1000 Yen each, we spent over an hour meeting people in a labyrinth of shops, many of which were third-generation family businesses. Lots of proprietors knew Park and we were given all sorts of samples such as fresh made soy milk with sesame, BBQ, fried pyrogies, fresh strawberries, shaved bonito flakes, and exquisite hand-made confections. Wow.

On our last afternoon, we visited Keiko Kuroda at her office at the University of Kobe where she teaches forest science. We had met her in 2011 when we took Claire’s pine beetle-based art to a forest pathology conference in northern Spain.

It was great to see Keiko again and hear more about her work. She chose from a selection of screen prints and reproductions we had brought for her. Then from the university, we caught a bus and train downtown. There she took us to the “Agricultural High School Restaurant Sannomiya” (農業高校レストラン 三宮店 ) near the Ikuta shrine in downtown Kobe. We enjoyed a wonderful meal made almost entirely from vegetables grown by the students and cooked in a fusion cuisine style (reviewed here). Lucky us!

(I will try to post more food photos for our chef friends!)

All the people we encountered during our two weeks in Japan were kind, helpful and generous.  We are so fortunate to have traveled there and grateful for the hospitality we enjoyed. We also thank the following for their help and support for this trip:

Amos Nir, Gillian Walker, Carol Evenchik, Sophia Isajiw, Leanne Davies, Marilyn Fuchs, Lyndal Osborne, Jennifer Penny, Ian Crawford, Judy Kujundzic, Aki Yamamoto, Dorien Jongsma, Isao Sanami-Morrill, Eri Ishii, Craig Paterson, Susan Madsen, Stephen Mitchell, Dave Jeffery, Gary and Linda Champagne, Ekai Jorgenson, Shane Yamamoto, Ewelina Skowronska, Aiai & Akane, Rikio Hakudo Hashimoto, Yasumasa and Yuko Matsumata, Keiko Kuroda, Kanako Nozoe, and Machiyu & Yuko.


Interview with Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio One’s program “North by Northwest” about Babarrunak Raku and the 7th NBC Meshtec Tokyo International Screen Print Biennial and awards … starts at about 58:48.

Evolution of an abstract silkscreen print

The approaching deadline for a biennial Japanese screen print competition motivated me to try something different this summer. This photo of the texture left in a glass bowl by cooked black beans gave me the idea of trying to simulate ceramic raku effects:

My sisters-in-law in Victoria had grown and harvested the beans, which “grounded” them and connected me to my subject matter! (They are very delicious, by the way 😉

I began by printing a background gradient with a circular gradient on top.

Then I created several bitmaps at different thresholds from the greyscale photo of the black bean texture to use as film positives that I could print:

I started printing these textures using copper ink, then gold, then red, violet and clear. I printed the lightest texture with repeated layers of clear to create a tactile relief surface texture.

I wasn’t satisfied with the pale blue to mauve background – it was too sweet, and some small flaws bothered me. So I overprinted it with three versions: mostly black, with a few indigo and carmine red. Finally, a metallic frame (some gold, some copper) to trap the background colours.

Here are some photos and closeups of what I ended up calling, Babarrunak Raku (Babarrunak is Euskera/Basque for black beans!).

Thanks to Sophia, Annerose, Ian and Claire for their feedback during the printmaking process, to Peter Braune at New Leaf Editions for his advice on flattening paper, and to our stalwart supplier, Willox Graphics.

(Here’s one black bean recipe from Tolosa and here is the Tolosa website about black beans.)

Update:
Babarrunak Raku won the Prize of Excellence (4th prize) in the 7th NBC MESHTECH Tokyo International Screen Print Biennial. It was exhibited at Yurakucho Asahi Gallery between November 22 and 27, 2019. The award ceremony was held at Ginza Lion in Tokyo on November 25, 2019.

 

Plant your own mini-stake in the Peace

drone shot by Darcy

Forest of stakes outside the Boons’ farm; photo courtesy of Darcy Shawchek.

The Stakes in the Peace campaign began when I heard that BC Hydro was drilling on Ken and Arlene Boon’s property in preparation for the Site C dam on the Peace River. Most of this work was way ahead of schedule and unnecessary; a form of bullying leaders of the resistance to Site C. I thought, if they Boons are getting drilled, we can pound a stake outside our house, too. So Claire and I pounded a yellow stake into the ground, then posted a photo.

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Claire & I pounding in our first stake in solidarity with the Boons last summer outside our place in Wells, BC.

Wendy Holm and others took this idea and transformed it into a brilliant solidarity campaign in which people (singly or in groups) could pay $100 to have their name on a yellow stake outside the Boons. It took off, and now there are over 600 stakes forming a forest of solidarity which has raised over $60,000 towards legal costs for resistance to Site C.

In the group exhibition Disturbances in the Field  (the inaugural exhibition at the Omineca Arts Centre, ) I have made two pieces about Site C, one of which is a 15″ x 48″ terracotta version of the real field, plus seven inch tall yellow stakes, all hand silkscreened with stakeinthepeace.com and various anti-Site C hashtags. I’ve made about 600 stakes 😉

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All the stakes had stakeinthepeace.com on one side, with Cree, Dane-zaa or various hashtags on the other side.

At the opening on Friday, May 12, I began inserting the stakes (short video here). People attending had the opportunity to put their own stake in the Peace for a minimum donation of $5 (all funds will go to the stakeinthepeace.com campaign). For anyone outside Prince George who’d like to participate, they can contribute via the PayPal button below.

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Slab of terracotta to simulate the field at the Boons – ready for staking out! Photo courtesy of Caitlin Chaisson.

Stakes on Saturday088

“Stakes in the Peace” (silkscreened wood, terracotta, reclaimed fir; approximately 48” x 16”) after the opening night.

In the course of the exhibition, we raised enough money to pay for six actual stakes at the Boons, thanks to the contributions of many generous people.

The clay has now hardened and dried, so it’s no longer possible to insert mini-stakes in the “field”. But it will still be possible for people in the Prince George area to buy stakes to take home to plant in their own gardens, potted plants, cactus gardens, terrariums, etc. (If you live outside Prince George, feel free to contact me through the “About & Contact” page on this site; I might be able to mail you a stake or two 😉

We have set a minimum suggested donation via PayPal @ $5.00 btn_donate_SM

(PayPal will display Amazing Space Studio & Gallery ~ William Horne ~ Reference: Stake in the Peace donation.)

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Mini-stakes return home; terracotta has dried and cracked.

Thanks to: Caitlin Chaisson, Curator, for her enthusiasm and support; Denis Gutiérrez-Ogrinc for photodocumentation; John Howarth for plinth construction; Khast’an drummers for performing at the opening & Kym Gouchie for welcoming all to Lheidli T’enneh territory; Claire Kujundzic for all-round support, including technical; Denise Dauvin for hospitality; Randy Hadland for feedback; Yvonne Tupper for the hashtags; Art Napoleon for the Cree translation; Verena Hofmann and Treaty 8 for the Dane-zaa translation; the peoples of the Peace for their courage and persistence in the face of adversity.

Online donors:
Anne Kelly, Rita Neighbor, Holly & Julie (Vancouver), RanD Hadland, Elizabeth & Aashima Mathias, Gail Noonan, Colette Chisholm in memory of Joe A Chisholm, Jennifer Iredale, Caitlin Chaisson. Thanks, everyone!

The Far Afield blog:
Curator Caitlin Chaisson has posted photos, thoughts and observations online. Here are two posts about the mini-stakes, here and here. Thank-you, Caitlin 😉

 

Claire’s Collograph Workshop

Claire has extensive experience with presses and traditional printmaking processes, so she offered a Collograph workshop during our time in Tolosa. Collography is the low-tech cousin of etching, with cardboard or matte board plates, leaves, feathers, string, sand and other materials that create printable textures. Typically we ink the plates with a roller, then rub off the excess ink with a rag so that we can print the ink remaining in cracks, hollows and scratches in the plates. Usually a thin residue of ink will persist on the flat areas of the plate, which results in a thin unifying grey throughout the print.

Garikoitz made arrangements to do the workshop in the ceramics studio upstairs in Tolosa’s Casa de Cultura – Kultur Etxea (Culture House) where a small press was available, and designed another beautiful, bilingual poster:

pantallas-solClaire only had one participant, Gurutze, an aspiring landscape and garden designer, but I assisted and the three of us did a lot of printing and had many good laughs.

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Claire & Gurutze preparing plates.

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Gurutze & Claire laughing & working on their plates.

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A few plates and test prints.

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Placing an inked plate on paper in the press with blankets.

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International collography team; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

Here are some short video clips from the workshop:

Gurutze printing #1 – onto paper.
Gurutze printing #2 – onto fabric.
Gurutze printing #3 – with leaves.
Claire inking plates.

A Sunlight Photostencil workshop

In addition to our exhibition at GKo Gallery, Claire and I offered to present two low-tech printmaking workshops while we were in Tolosa. Since I shoot almost all of my silkscreen photostencils in sunlight in Wells (sometimes overcast, often with snow around!) instead of using an expensive, electric-powered exposure unit, it made sense to share what I’ve learned about this process over the years. The best place to do this was at the studios at BoxA Arte Elkarte where Garikoitz and others do screen printing and mural project preparations, as well as other activities. He put together this nice poster in Euskara and Castellano for the workshop:

pantallas-solBoxA is about a 15 minute walk from GKo and located in an old warehouse. It’s operated by a collective – the Association of Young Creators of Tolosa – and has a performance space and bar on the ground floor, as well as a patio and an area that the collective has gradually been developing as a garden. There are always people working in and around the building, and lots of workshops, events and jam sessions; energy radiates from within and without.

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Collective member Xabier Xtrm & assistant working on a mural near BoxA.

Earlier I had attended an excellent workshop at BoxA on photo transfers that Joseba Mercader, a local photographer and collective member led, and met more artists who became good friends during our stay in Tolosa.

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Joseba & Claire with one of his whales made from driftwood.

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Adhering colour laser images to boards, then soaking & rubbing away the paper backing.

I wasn’t familiar with the extremely sensitive photoemulsion they used for screen printing at BoxA, and the sun was much more intense than in Wells at this time of year, so our first test screen was completely overexposed! Oops.

The second attempt worked well enough and from then on, everyone succeeded in making a stencil they could print. What a fine crew of people! I’m grateful to Garikoitz for having organized this, to BoxA for hosting, Claire for assisting, and of course to Izaskun, Jorge and Nader for their participation.

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Our first exposure test in the courtyard below; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

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My 5-in-1 exposure calculator with a chart I developed for tracking exposures according to date, time of day, season, weather and results.

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Bill & Nader discuss how to print his design on a canvas bag and align a second print to the first; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

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Izaskun inspects her prints on canvas bags and on paper; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

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Jorge’s bag design drying; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

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pI demonstrated the use of cutting rubylith for making film positives; these are the days of the week in Euskara, with a new variation on GKo Gallery’s logo.

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Claire & I with Izaskun, Nader & Jorge in the BoxA studio; Garikoitz C. Murua Fierro photo.

 

Hanging our exhibition

A few weeks before leaving Canada, I emailed Juantxo Garmendia, a metal fabricator and sculptor I had met through master papermaker, Juan Barbé in the fall of 2013. I had seen some of Juantxo’s work first hand, and also knew that he had built a remarkable “Naginata fabrication” fibre shredding machine for Juan. We wouldn’t have room in our luggage for the two metal rings we originally wanted to use to hang Claire’s work, so I sent Juantxo technical drawings and asked him if he could make them, and if so, how much would they cost. He said sure, easy, but he wouldn’t charge for this! So I decided I would return the favour by designing and printing some shirts for him, using copper ink as the base.

Shirt design based on one of Juantxo's pieces.

Shirt design based on one of Juantxo’s pieces.

I had assumed that we would pick up the rings at his shop or rendezvous in Zizurkil or Billabona, then train back to Tolosa. However, when we rolled our two suitcases of art to GKo Gallery on April 8, the rings were already there; Juantxo had driven to Tolosa to drop them off for us ahead of our arrival! How very kind.

Closeup of Juantxo's wizardry.

Closeup of Juantxo’s wizardry.

Juantxo's metal rings that awaited us at GKo.

Juantxo’s metal rings that awaited us at GKo.

 

 

 

After getting settled in our room at Garikoitz and Kizkitza’s a few blocks away, we unpacked and laid out our pieces around the room according to the miniature maquette we had made back at home; Garikoitz had sent us very accurate wall and ceiling measurements, so there were no surprises; everything fit!

 

 

 

Claire unpacking.

Claire unpacking.

Unpacked and unrolled; ready to arrange and hang.

Unpacked and unrolled; ready to arrange and hang.

Claire ready to attach the central fabric column of her piece "Grove" to Juantxo's metal rings.

Claire ready to attach the central fabric column of her piece “Grove” to Juantxo’s metal rings.

Bill & Claire preparing to hang the central fabric column of her piece "Grove". Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Bill & Claire preparing to hang the central fabric column of her piece “Grove”. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Bill & Claire hanging the central fabric column of her piece "Grove". Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Bill & Claire hanging the central fabric column. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Hanging canvas pieces. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Hanging canvas pieces. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

We first hung Claire’s green fabric column with her torn, stained canvas trees encircling it. Then we anchored her larger pieces and my larger prints before devising an arrangement for my miniature prints in between.

Hanging system.

Hanging system.

Hanging system: closeup of sliding metal hardware.

Hanging system: closeup of sliding metal hardware.

Garikoitz had milled up a few wooden cleats for some of Claire’s paintings that “float” off the wall; we cut a few more wooden bars at the BoxA Arte Elkarte studio. Other pieces could hang from the gallery’s heavy duty nylon with adjustable stainless hooks – nice system!

 

 

Installation view.

Installation view.

Installation view. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Silkscreened beetle galleries & bark textures by Bill Horne.

Silkscreened beetle galleries & bark textures by Bill Horne.

Silkscreened beetle galleries by Bill Horne.

Silkscreened beetle galleries by Bill Horne.

Claire’s “Forest Carpet #3” (mixed media on canvas) near gallery door to Kale Nagusia.

Display of mountain pine beetle “galleries” in bark, with three of Bill’s beetle silkscreens.

Claire Kujundzic's "Opening"; mixed media on canvas

Claire Kujundzic’s “Opening”; mixed media on canvas

Claire's "Forest Carpet #5" with two trees (mixed media on canvas).

Claire’s “Forest Carpet #5” with two trees (mixed media on canvas).

Claire's "Forest Carpet #4", "Deferred Area" and "Understory #7" (all mixed media on canvas).

Claire’s “Forest Carpet #4”, “Deferred Area” and “Understory #7” (all mixed media on canvas).

It took all of Thursday and most of Friday to hang everything, and we were very pleased in the end with how everything looked. Garikoitz was incredibly patient and calm throughout! He and Kizkitza generously provided refreshments and lots of local people showed up for the opening. It was great to reconnect with Juantxo and a pleasure to meet his wife, Eli, and their daughters, Araia & Laiene, as well as Garikoitz and Kizkitza’s mothers! Plus Alex, Joseba & Xabi from BoxA Elkarte, Sonia from the Casa de Cultura, Brian Cullen from the Tolosa visitor centre, and Ura.

Conversations at the opening. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Conversations at the opening. Garikoitz Murua Fierro photo.

Garikoitz organized several interviews which resulted in two articles in Castellano (Noticias de Gipuzkoaand Diario Vasco) and one in Euskara. We really appreciated the interest and attention to detail of all the journalists who wrote about our exhibition.

Arrival in Tolosa

From Deba we took one, then another Euskotren east and transferred to the north-south RENFE line in Donostia. The Euskotren platforms are almost all level with the trains; easy to haul our suitcases on and off. Not so with RENFE Cercanías, whose cars have steep steps to climb up and down. But it was a beautiful day to travel by train.

RENFE train map: Donostia to Tolosa.

RENFE train map: Donostia to Tolosa.

We texted Garikoitz Murua of GKo Gallery when we caught the RENFE southbound so he could meet us on arrival in Tolosa and help us take our suitcases to the gallery. As a surprise, we put on our red and black plaid wool toques with brown beards (we got them from CANFOR’s warming hut at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George) as we disembarked the train. He laughed and took a few photos of us as we left the platform.

Claire adjusts Bill's wool "beard" on arrival in Tolosa; Garikoitz Murua photo.

Claire adjusts Bill’s wool “beard” on arrival in Tolosa; Garikoitz Murua photo.

Crazy Canadians. Garikoitz Murua photo.

Look out: crazy Canadians heading this way. Garikoitz Murua photo.

Bill & Claire exit train platform; Garikoitz Murua photo.

Bill & Claire exit train platform; Garikoitz Murua photo.

GKo Gallery is only a few blocks away from the train station, so we took everything there, dropped off our art, then rolled our personal belongings back a few blocks to Garikoitz and Kizkitza’s apartment. We’d then return to GKo to start unpacking the art and doing some preliminary arrangements to start the process of hanging everything.

Arrival.

Our destination.

Garikoitz and Kizkitza have a beautiful place on the fourth floor, overlooking the central commercial district which is designated pedestrian-only from the next block over to the Oria River. It was extremely generous of them to accommodate us, and we felt very fortunate to have our own room right in the centre of town, just ten minutes’ walk from the gallery, the market, the Casa de Cultura; five minutes from the TOPIC puppet museum; fifteen minutes from Box.A Arte Elkarte studios. Wonderful.

View from Garikoitz and Kizkitza's.

View from Garikoitz and Kizkitza’s.

Just up the street is a classic millinery store that has been in business for several generations. Drawers and shelves and boxes of buttons, threads, needles, pins … we would be there soon to buy some special pins for mounting matted prints on the gallery walls!

Ayerza Mertzeria millinery story.

In the Ayerza Mertzeria millinery story.

Central Tolosa is full of every kind of shop, all independent – we never saw any chains. Each block seems to have several bars, a bakery, shoe store, jeweler, deli, maybe a fish store, toys. It would take weeks to visit them all. There are several plazas with bars and shops facing onto them, and people of all ages wandering about.

Map of Tolosa courtesy of Tolosatours.

Map of Tolosa courtesy of Tolosaldea Tour.

The Garia Bakery is half a block from GKo Gallery. Operated by Raúl and Amaia, they make a variety of delicious levain breads (traditional sourdough), including whole grains and some pastries. They were always welcoming and generous, especially having learned that I had worked at Uprising Breads Bakery in East Vancouver – originally modeled on the Basque Mondragon cooperatives – for 11 years. What a pleasure!

Unloading the oven at Garia.

Bill behind the till with Amaia.

Bill behind the till with Amaia.

Claire with one of Raúl's tasty treats.

Claire with one of Raúl’s tasty treats.