Rei Zentolo - obradoiro de artesanía


Rei Zentolo - obradoiro de artesanía
Re-designing the Atlantic
It is a great satisfaction for the Regional
Ministry of Innovation and Industry to present
the magazine “Crafts Workshop”, a publication
designed to become a channel of communication
with the crafts sector, at the same time as serving
as a display of the different artisans’ work.
As a twice-yearly publication, our aim is to
create a specialised magazine for consultation
and reference on any matter related to the
Galician crafts sector, which goes beyond
offering the latest news. “Crafts Workshop” will
be an instrument used to divulge the diversity
of our sector, in which traditional trades,
historic memory and cultural heritage, and the
knowledge passed down from generation to
generation all go hand in hand with new crafts
activities and concepts related to art and design.
“Crafts Workshop” will reflect the diversity of
the sector, at the same time as being an open
space for the promotion and publicity of our
artisans and their creative work in Galician
society and the rest of the world. From the
Regional Ministry, we consider the world of
crafts as anything but a ‘sealed compartment’.
We are seeing more and more that it is a
dynamic, diverse sector, in constant contact with
other artistic disciplines such as photography,
architecture, fashion, design or sculpture, to
name but a few. We will focus all of our efforts
on creating a section we hope will become
a permanent feature in forthcoming editions,
exploring the production of crafts workshops
as works of art that are perfectly suited for
exhibition in art galleries.
And so, each edition of “Crafts Workshop”,
apart from offering articles and interviews on
matters of interest, will dedicate a large part
of its content to traditional crafts, showing how
this activity is being modernised in the present
day, either as a result of new interpretations of
traditional styles and methods, or from research
and innovation applied to the field. Our aim is
to explore both sides of the work of artisans
in Galiza, showing how traditional crafts are
made and the application of these ancestral
methods to producing contemporary pieces,
highlighting the work of the craftsmen and
craftswomen involved as creative authors. Each
edition will also dedicate space to new crafts
activities appearing in Galiza in response to
the new demands of modern society, and our
new way of life.
The definitive goal of the Regional Ministry
of Innovation and Industry is that this
publication serves to publicise the reality of
our crafts sector as a whole, going beyond
preconceptions, topical issues and shortsightedness. A sector in which tradition is
combined with the new perspectives of artisans
and creators, with their artistic visions, with
new uses required by consumers and new
crafts activities that arise. A diverse sector,
whose most commonly shared feature is quality
craftsmanship, the guarantee of unique pieces,
and the prestige of a trademark used to
present their work in markets throughout the
whole world, the name “Crafts of Galicia” that
identifies them.
Chiselling 30
as a way
of life
10 Melted in glass
Tuning up an invention/
Avant-garde Luthiers
Fernando Xabier Blanco Álvarez
Regional Ministry of Innovation and Industry
The magazine “Crafts Workshop” is available in PDF format at the
Nigrán style 34
Textile expression
Published by
General Directorate for Commerce
Regional Ministry of Innovation and Industry
Coordinated by
Galician Crafts and Design Centre Foundation
L25MN Área Central 15707 Santiago de Compostela
Tel. 881999171 / 881999175 Fax 881999170
e-mail: [email protected]
Xoán Piñón
Manuel G. Vicente
Juan Carlos G. Franco
e contribucións dos artesáns
Design, edition and production
Vermasmedios S. L.
Tel. 881 926 236
[email protected]
Legal Deposit
Textile expression
Pop culture and the conversion of a
series of icons of Galician identity
into expressions of urban style are
the features that mark the work of the
company Rei Zentolo, which continues
to grow by bringing graphic art to the
streets and using modern marketing
methods to promote its products, as
part of the steady rise of T-shirts with a
message. The company began selling
at festivals and crafts fairs, and today
has five stores throughout all of Galiza
and two new lines of business:
Yobordo and Shirtgigolo.
Figures including the well-known local musician Iván Ferreiro have been
had all of the right ideas, but couldn’t reach our end customers. That
won over by the charms of Rei Zentolo, a company producing T-shirts
was when we came up with the idea of selling directly to the public. We
with a message that is causing a major stir in the world of Galician
started to travel round visiting festivals and crafts fairs with a shopping
textile design as a result of combining Pop culture with the traditional
trolley, beach table and a tent, the perfect kit to start out on a business
ironic humour of the region. The ex-member of the pop group Los Piratas project without grants from the local authorities or support of any kind”.
has had major success throughout all of Spain wearing Rei Zentolo’s
T-shirts on stage, a company that was created in 2002 in the city of
Galician Pop culture T-shirts
Rei Zentolo came about as an idea by two Fine Arts students
Pontevedra and which six years later continues to go from
who decided to seek an outlet for their creativity by
strength to strength. “The original idea was to create
starting up their own T-shirt workshop using the
a brand that broke away with everything on offer
screen-printing technique. They discovered a niche
up to that moment. From the outset we wanted
in the market that had not been filled: messages
to make something that wasn’t available on
based on popular Galician iconography. From
the market, with a specific look and cultural
the famous local octopus to the green peppers
ideology”, says Jose Miranda, one of the
of Padrón, to famous Galician writers
owners of Rei Zentolo, adding: “At first it was
and thinkers, such as Rosalía de Castro or
quite a struggle as our products lacked any
kind of reference on the market, and this
Castelao, legendary creatures such as the
led to stores giving us the cold shoulder, as
werewolf, or the region’s valiant barnacle
gatherers, presenting Galiza as a land of
the slogans were in Galician, and it wasn’t
myths that still had a message to transmit to
a language that sold well, unlike English or
region’s young people. Jose defines the
Castilian Spanish”.
But little by little, gradually edging into a
company’s growth saying: “The success of our
market with a bias towards Anglo-Saxon and
T-shirts was firstly due to the fact that they are a
Spanish culture in textiles, the company found its
basic garment that everyone wears and needs on
most important support to become successful in the
a day to day basis. We think they work well because
field: the general public. It began selling in the streets
they’re a product our customers identify with, something
before starting to expand with its own store and franchises selling
that makes them feel different and is representative of the
its products in Coruña, Compostela, Carballo, Vigo and Pontevedra, as
Galician way of being”.
All of Rei Zentolo’s catalogue can be consulted on the website www.
well as in multi-brand stores throughout all of Galiza and other parts which offers interactive sections, information and has an
of Spain, gradually creating a commercial distribution network. “We
online store with all of its designs. The items on sale include key rings,
badges, garments for babies, mugs and even sunglasses, although its
star products are its T-shirts, producing an average of 5,000 per month,
although in peak months this figure rises to 20,000.
The artistic style, creativity and teamwork involved are all key factors
in achieving the excellent final result. A complex process is involved from
the original sketch until the T-shirt reaches the customer: “First we have
a brainstorming session amongst the members of the company. Then we
sieve out the designs we think are the best and most original that can be
used. The next stage is to create a more polished version, and if we
don’t think it’s got any future as a definitive design we put it to one
side to come back to in the future. Then we lay out the design on the
computer, trying out colours, compositions and typography… finally
we produce a series of test runs with screen printing inks and different
colours to choose the definitive models that will be included in the
catalogues”, explains Jose.
A number of designs from Rei Zentolo have already become classics,
appearing in TV interviews, on the streets and in foreign countries, all
with the aim of making the statement “Yes, I’m Galician”. For example,
the T-shirt poking fun at the band from California, Red Hot Chilli Peppers,
using peppers from Padrón. In this case the slogan reads “Little Green
Hot Peppers from Padrón”. This humorous take on Anglo-Saxon cultural
products may also be seen in the “Warholised” version of authoress
Rosalía de Castro, imitating the portrait of Marilyn Monroe from 1964
by the ‘high priest’ of Pop Art culture. “Marilyn and Rosalía represent
a specific cultural period. Both are iconic figures from these periods
and both are firmly identified with the idea of an independent, modern
woman. For this reason they both became Pop Art images”, says Jose,
who did not hesitate to include in the portfolio of iconic Galician figures
–not without a certain touch of irony– the presenter of the popular
How does an illustration find its way onto a
T-shirt? After working on the concept based on
the illustration, the most suitable colour range
is tested so that the final garment fits with the
original idea. Taking icons of European culture
and adapting them to a Galician viewpoint is
one of the specialities of Rei Zentolo.
I embroider,
you embroider,
she embroiders…
local TV show Luar, Xosé Ramón Gayoso, who despite not personally
representing the region, is “a well-known personality from Galiza from
the last fifteen years”. The driving force behind the growth of Rei Zentolo
is its talent and staying in touch with the latest trends at street level.
For this reason it constantly updates its products, although its ‘classics’
are kept in the catalogue. “All of the brands on the market that have
a model that sells well try to make the most of it. For example, textile
companies keep a pattern year after year if it works well. Logically,
when we see something isn’t selling well we take it off the shelves. We
also produce limited editions, with products such as the Yobordo clothing,
socks, or mugs”.
“We see ourselves as artists from the nineteenth century”
The Yobordo team creates clothing for the modern woman, with a touch of innocence
and a love of handcrafted objects with a long-lasting value.
Sketches and threads. Working material that serves
as the starting point for the team of YoBordo
(shown above), which offers women’s garments that
are sophisticated, unique and totally hand-made,
based on a world of innocence and imagination.
Today Rei Zentolo has become a well-known brand, present throughout the whole
of Spain, and is much more than just a company: it is a way of understanding the
culture of Galiza and the main demands of young people in the region. A style
all of its own, somewhere between ironic humour and fine art.
T-shirts and much more besides. Rei Zentolo’s
stores have a style all their own, where visitors
will find handcrafted fashion garments and highly
original gift items, ever faithful to the culture of
Galiza. The members of Rei Zentolo’s design team
are Juan, Pablo, Nieves, Jano, Kiko da Silva and
Miranda. However, working together with them in
the warehouse and product delivery department are
Óscar and Cote (with José), as well as two others in
the administration and customer service department
(Salvador and Abilleira, together with Jano). They
are joined by the staff in the franchises, in their
screen printing workshop, and the heads of product
marketing in Catalonia, Asturias, Cantabria, the
Basque Country, Aragón, the north of Castile, Valencia
and Murcia. In total, more than twenty people are
dedicated to a single project: guaranteeing the success
of a symbol of Galiza’s cultural identity that is having
a profound impact on the whole country.
The members of Rei Zentolo began their commercial adventure when
they had still not found full time work, and their success has served
as motivation for other young men and women who, like them, were
planning to emigrate as a solution. “This was a process of creation that
was seen up close by a lot of people, meaning it’s logical that a lot of
people without work but with ideas or design studies decided to start
making T-shirts as a way of getting out of a rut”, says Jose.
Despite being a hugely successful company, they have a very clear
idea of being twenty-first century artists, capable of adapting their art
to modern times and a wide range of supports, beyond just being a
commercial formula. “We see ourselves like the artists of the nineteenth
century, when there was no difference between art and crafts. Until quite
recently this same idea was supported by artists like Chillida or Picasso.
We understand craftsmanship as research in the workshop, where you
have to invent new things both at formal level as well as in terms of
design or ideology”.
They are critical of modern crafts, which they say suffers from “being
far from what it could and should be. We think that the world of crafts
is suffering from a delay in values, because it is seen as something
associated with the past that cannot or should not evolve. An example
of this is that the designs of lacework from Camariñas mustn’t be made
in materials that are any colour other than white”. They form a part of
a generation responsible for serving as a driving force behind a new
concept of manual work.
Two more specialised brands have appeared as part of the Rei Zentolo
stable, aimed at attracting other types of public and complementing
the creative philosophy of the team from Pontevedra. “YoBordo (www., [“I Embroider”], appeared as a collaboration project with
a colleague from the faculty of Fine Arts, with all of the products made
by hand, down to the patterns used. In turn, ShirtGigolo (www.shirtgigolo.
com) appeared in response to the prejudice that exists towards Galicians
in the rest of Spain, and as a means for our sales team to survive in other
parts of the country, because otherwise we’d be condemning them to not
be able to sell outside of Galiza”, says Jose, adding, “We’re working in
this direction because at Rei Zentolo we consider that in order to survive,
you have to continuously evolve and not rest on your laurels. That’s the
way to stay alive and keep going forwards”.
The history of Yobordo dates back to 2005, when Nieves Sierra,
originally from Santander and a Fine Arts student in Pontevedra,
joined up with Rei Zentolo to bring out a range of women’s clothes. She
started with embroidered T-shirts, and then skirts, dresses and blouses,
all hand-made, with hand painted designs but within the reach of the
most fashion conscious young people. The Yobordo woman is original,
fun and with a slightly naïve touch, and the products from the company
all include these signs of identity: a fresh, youthful approach both in the
fabrics used (wool, cotton, corduroy, polyester or satin), and in the colours
and decorative motifs used, from ribbons or birds to skulls, flowers or
rainbows. This ‘baby doll’ look has already proved to be a major success
in European fashion shows such as Ego Cibeles or the Prét-á-Porter
fashion week in Paris.
Address of the main store:
rúa Dona Tareixa
Casco Vello-Pontevedra
Telephone: 986 856 844
in glass
Craftsmanship in glass, a tradition enshrined in
the master glassblowers of Venice, is alive and
flourishing in Galiza. Proof of this is the highly
personal and delicate work of Rosa Méndez,
who in her small workshop in Teo, close to Santiago,
transforms large sheets of the material in pieces
of modern and multi-functional jewellery.
The glass bars seen in the top photo are
turned into necklaces and other jewellery
thanks to a fine control of the blowpipe, a
speciality of the artisan Rosa Méndez for
more than eight years.
Her work is her main passion, and this may be seen in her pieces, some
of which are more commercial in nature –such as the collections of
jewellery offered to her clientele every six months– while others are so
personal that they do not even have a specific function: they are simply
harmonious. These are large-scale pieces that Rosa Méndez shapes with
loving care, the first she shows to visitors at her workshop. Works of art
seemingly more at home in a museum of decorative arts than in a shop
window. “These aren’t utilitarian pieces, or at least they’re not meant to
be. They are pieces that catch your eye, that you keep in your home, like
when you buy a picture or a sculpture… they say something to you, or
are pleasing to look at”, says the Galician designer. Méndez works with
volumes with a sensitivity all her own, producing pieces that lead you to
ask questions and be inspired by the colour and fragility of the glass,
which has all the appearance of a piece of ice taken from nature.
The work of this craftswoman, however, is highly focused on the
production of jewellery, present each season at the international fairs
held in Madrid and Paris, from where it finds its way to displays in
jewellers’ and stores specialising in arts and crafts. “My work has been
very well received in Galiza, but particularly in France or Barcelona.
Different collections are more successful in one place or another. In
Paris or Barcelona, for example, I had a lot of success with a collection
made using newspaper and parchment, materials that aren’t often seen
in my work, and which go down very well in museum shops, but don’t
sell so well in Galiza”, explains the artist, who began her training with
renowned specialists in producing artistic glasswork in the USA, Austria,
Holland and Italy.
Necklace and earrings form the series “Burbullas”, available from Rosa
Méndez’s catalogue in different
colours and settings, depending on
the customer’s preferences.
Her professional career with this material began in 2000, a period she
looks back on with fond memories. “I discovered glass by chance at
a school that was in Galiza for around five years. It depended on La
Granja de San Ildefonso, and that’s where I still go today to learn new
techniques. When I discovered what was possible with glass I said to
myself ‘this is for me, I’m staying with this material’. My first teacher was
Italian, she taught me and I got more and more hooked. After training in
Galiza, I continued learning in La Granja. I studied there for two years.
First I set up a workshop with other artisans, and for the last four year’s
I’ve had my own”.
Classicism, with a close eye on the latest trends
The work of Rosa Méndez combines design, manufacture,
commercialisation and also a firm commitment to create a crafts culture.
For this reason, apart from continuing to take part in meetings with
other professionals in the sector, she offers training courses for young
people starting out in the field of glass blowing, and works because she
recognises the value of unique, hand-made pieces in which the tendency
is towards the consumption of more temporary, easily replaced products.
“When someone takes home a piece that has been made by hand,
they are taking something unique and special. Before things were sold
more with a view to the future, but not any more, and for this reason
it’s important to work with young people to get them interested in the
world of craftsmanship. Age has an important influence in this process of
recognising quality work, but it’s also positive that young people learn
and distinguish what makes it genuine and special. The French public, for
example, values much more highly things that have been made by hand.
For them it’s very important to know the person behind the objects that are
in each collection”.
Earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings… glass never looses pride of
place with respect to silver or leather, the main supports for the icy,
brightly coloured pieces by Rosa Méndez. Jewellery that is occasionally
based on initial designs, but at other times appears from direct contact
with fire.
Most of her initial collections have three or four items from each model,
although the rest are made on demand from distributors or directly from
her customers, faithful fans of her work and part of an ever-growing client
base. All of her series have their own name (Caramelos, Burbullas, Xeados,
Barroca), referring to their appearance or the time when they were made.
Rosa Méndez makes variations of each model, playing with the colours or
materials they are set in. At the same time as blowing and moulding her
glasswork, she shares her experiences with other professionals in classes
(every year, at the School of Jewellery in Madrid), or from whom she
receives new knowledge. “This profession is something that comes from
very deep within you. If you like working with your hands, when you have
a material placed in front of you, you go crazy. I see it when I organise a
course: once people realise what glass is capable of, they start working
on it intensely”.
As well as jewellery, Rosa Méndez creates
decorative objects. Colour and lively shapes
make her work ideal for younger collectors.
“You’ve got to get out there and take a gamble”
O How would you define your jewellery?
They’re pieces that are easy to combine, I
don’t make them too complicated and they
look great with different types of clothes. The
glass is the most important element, and I try to
make big pieces, without them being too heavy
so the wearer feels comfortable with them.
My jewellery makes any type of clothing look
different, for example a two-piece suit. When
you wear one of my necklaces, what stands out
about you is precisely that: the necklace.
O How do you commercialise your work?
Apart from the fairs in Madrid and Paris, which
give you an outlet for your work and also the
chance to share with your colleagues how the
sector is going and the latest novelties, when
it comes to selling I’ve always got my display
boxes ready to travel to shows, and for my sales reps to take round the stores. No one comes
to look for you in your workshop. In this business
you’ve got to get out there and take a gamble.
O Tell us about your side as an artist working
with blown glass. Is this technique usual in
I’ve always worked with glass, since I began
in the business, and I apply it to different
technical conditions. Jewellery reaches a lot
of people and it’s more popular, but blown
glass has a lot more to offer. Blown glass, for
example, is hardly made at all in Galiza or
in the rest of Spain. To learn the technique I
had to travel abroad and learn mainly from
American teachers. To tell you the truth, my
dream would be to work with blown glass
alone. But I don’t commercialise it, it’s my little
luxury. For the time being I do it because I love
it, I’ve never put it on sale.
O What raw material do you use, and where
does it come from?
I use glass sheets, but I don’t buy them here but
instead put in an order every three months to
the USA. Here in Spain a lot of window glass
gets made, but it doesn’t give you the same
results as this imported material. I buy it in
different thicknesses, colours, transparencies
and opacities. I’ve got a small storeroom where
I keep the sheets, and from there I take them
straight into the workshop where I cut them and
work with them.
“Collections come and go, but
I’m always left with some
memory or other”. The work
of Rosa Méndez is the best
possible proof that when an
artisan goes to work, even ice
can become warm. Her style is
reminiscent of the Italian style,
although the colours and shapes
she uses give it a personality
all of its own. She spends hours
and hours in her workshop in
Teo, a quiet space where she
practically lives, dedicating her
time to something for which
she has felt a true passion
for more than eight years:
creating beauty from the art of
O To what extent do you keep your eye on
fashion trends, what’s going on in the garment
world, when you’re creating your jewellery
I always make two collections, one for the
summer and another for the winter, and now
I’m supplying orders to stores for Summer
2008, but I’m already trying out designs for
the coming winter. I’m always watching out
for fashion trends in relation to my pieces,
especially the colours. If gold is in, I use golds,
if red is in, I use more reds… in the case of
the clips and supports, they’re nearly always
adapted to the glass, more than the glass
being adapted to them. In terms of the shapes,
my jewellery is more classic and timeless.
Vilar de Calo, 49
15895 Teo (A Coruña)
Telephone: (34) 981 523 146
(34) 667 266 098
e-mail: [email protected]
O How do you use the blowpipe technique?
This blowing technique (while she explains this,
Rosa makes a piece, as may be seen in the photo) is the one used in Murano by companies as
prestigious as Antica Murrina from Venice. This
is the way the Venetian master glassblowers
work with the glass, although I learned the
method from a French expert. When it’s hot,
the glass behaves like jelly, and that’s when you
can stretch it or mould it, for example in the
way I use it in my necklaces. As a base, I always
use silver or steel bars, and of course a good
pair of safety goggles.
O How do you join the glass and the silver?
To do that I use a special lamp at the point
where I join the glass to the silver, using a
special glue that doesn’t leave behind any
residue. In that way both materials end up
looking like a single piece, and you can’t see
where they’ve been joined.
O How do you use leather in your work, as an
alternative to silver?
The combination of glass and leather is quite
strange but looks great and goes down very
well with customers, specifically the younger
generation. I look for leather strips that are
best suited for using with glass, as not all
of them look good, and I get mine from a
specialised firm in Murcia.
O What’s the current situation of the glass
crafts sector?
There was a boom when I started to work
with glass in 2000, but now the sector’s a
little less active, although it still has its loyal
followers. Today there aren’t so many workshops
operating. There are plenty of people making
large-scale pieces like stained glass windows,
but there are less of us making jewellery. We’re
competing with other materials and precious
stones, although there’s a market for all of us..
Galiza’s artisans look to the present, recycling and learning from the
past. For this reason issues that are very much at the forefront of modern society, such as immigration, women’s equality, respect towards
the environment and culture itself are all present in the philosophy
behind the thirteen pieces selected by the jury as finalists in the first
edition of the Galician Crafts Awards.
Equality, the environment, recycling, respect towards others, plurality and cultural diversity… the
Galician Crafts Awards, presented on the thirteenth of May this year, distinguished the position of
artisans in the face of the changing and complex society of Galiza in 2008, in which immigration,
care for the environment and women’s equality are all signs of identity. However, as would be expected from a prize-giving event that recognises the work of creators as renovators, when it came
to choosing the finalists and winning entries, special attention was paid to skill and control over
manual techniques. A precision at times bordering on virtuosity, as is the case with the two winning
entries: the tuneable ‘chanters’ for bagpipes created by Lis Latas, and the sculptures in granite
entitled “Transportiños” by David Soengas (winner of the New Creators Prize). Small pieces made
with delicacy and infinite patience but always, as was the case with the works of the other eleven
finalists, suffused with a knowledge of Galician culture.
The first edition of the Galician Crafts Awards was convoked by the Regional Ministry of Innovation
and Industry with the aim of stimulating the creative work of Galician artisans, and at the same
time to raise public awareness of the strategic importance of the sector in providing an economic
and cultural impulse for Galiza.
The jury responsible for making the selection was chaired by the general director of commerce,
Ana Rúa Souto, with the director of the Galician Foundation of Crafts and Design, Maruxa Ledo
Arias, as secretary. The five members of the jury were Xohán Viqueira, artist and teacher from the
School of Ceramics in Manises (Valencia); the artisan and sculptor Acisclo Manzano, member of the
Galician Royal Academy of Fine Arts; the art critic Xosé Manuel Lens; the designer Antonio Ibáñez,
and Begoña Bas López, member of the Museum of the Galician People and conservation specialist
at the Archaeological Museum of A Coruña.
The winning entry of the first prize of 10,000 euros was the ‘tuneable bagpipe chanter’ created
by José Luis latas Vilanova, an artisan from Lugo specialising in the bagpipe, thanks to his research
work aimed at improving the piece responsible for tuning one of the most emblematic instruments of Galician music. His work was carried out with the constant advice of the bagpiper Pepe
Vaamonde, and is revolutionising the Galician bagpipe and the rest of the Celtic world. The jury
commented that “this piece provides practical and simple solutions to bring about improvements
in the playing and adaptation of the bagpipe for new audiences, making the process of learning
and playing the instrument easier. These characteristics are new elements that complement the intelligent and contemporary accompaniment of the dialogue with our history, not only in musical but
also in cultural and creative terms, factors of undeniable importance for a craftsmanship of quality
with its sights set on the future”.
In the “New Creators” category, with a prize of 4,000 euros aimed at artisans younger than 35,
the winner was the decorative piece made of recycled granite entitled “Transportiños” by David
Soengas Ben. The jury praised it as “an exercise in the re-adaptation and recycling of material
components, of the significance and cultural component that characterises stone in Galiza”.
Apart from these two winning entries, the thirteen pieces by the other finalists reveal the control
over a wide variety of techniques and materials through which Galician artisans are in contact with
the modern-day public, with strong links to the past helping to ensure traditional products have a
bright future in the sector in the region.
Galician Crafts Award
Title: Reprodución de rosetóns do románico galego
Author: Ana María Martínez Gómez
finalists and prize–winners
Title: De dúas en dúas
Author: Xabier de Sousa Alonso
Title: Cabra e paxaro
Author: Nacho Porto
Title: Versus Torque
Author: Sánchez-Cano Orfebres
“O punteiro afinable con copa de
concerto” (The tuneable chanter with
top section for concerts) is a device that
improves the tuning of this traditional
instrument of Galician folklore,
maintaining its original appearance and
at the same time solving the problems
caused by heat and cold that affect the
stability of the instrument. Built using five
conical wooden sections fitted together
“to form a single adjustable body at
the different connection points”, it is
mainly made of wood and resin, with
metal reinforcements (in silver and brass)
to protect the wooden cylinders from
damage and decorate the piece, which
includes a concert top section making it
possible to extend the notes that can be
played using a series of keys.
A device that improves the tuning of this traditional instrument of Galician folklore, maintaining
its original appearance and at the same time solving the problems caused by heat and cold.
Title: O punteiro afinable con copa de concerto
Author: Jose Luis Latas Vilanova
Innovation Award
Title: Luz encorsetada
Author: Pilar López Cupero
Title: Lapis de cores
Author: María Silva Pérez
Title: Trioval
Author: Virginia Rodríguez Lorenzo
Title: Yerbera
Author: Victor Manuel Ares Ces
Title: A cor da terra
Author: Xabier de Sousa Alonso
New Creators Award
Title: O serán desta aldea
Author: Sabela Orgueira Viqueira
Title: Ceibalúa
Author: Oscar Barros García
Title: Transportiños
Author: David Soengas Ben
Two hand-modelled pieces,
one weighing thirteen kilos and the other
just 250 grams, form the sculpture
“Cabra e paxaro” (Goat and Bird), the larger
piece in refractory clay and the smaller piece
in while clay, based on symbols and exploring
ancestral mythology through modern-day
parameters, symbols and techniques.
The animal in two sections, half goat and half
bird, was created “to remind the observer
that in life there are still things that are worth
looking at in detail, compared to the fast,
superficial changes of post-modern society”.
In life
Emigrants and immigrants, Galicians know what it is
to leave their homeland in order to make a living, and also
to receive people from other countries, fleeing from hunger,
war or dictatorships and who now live alongside us, together
with those who have returned from the wave of migration to
Europe and Latin America. “De dúas en dúas”
(Two by Two) uses the technique of engraving, which
according to its creator “began with a creative idea,
an image that took shape as a central figure and which
is decorated with the colours of the author’s sentiments,
impregnated in wet paper and from there to the printing
press to achieve the final result”. A result which in this
case has the appearance of a suitcase with family photos,
memories and hopes… the same things that we as a society
must recover for ourselves.
th fast
il, compared to
e rf
in det
re are stil
l things that a
A result which in this case has the appearance of a suitcase with family photos, memories and hopes...
the same things that we as a society must recover for ourselves.
f po
The world of fashion and the creation of
stereotypes in relation to women’s bodies
is the theme underlying the aesthetic of
“Luz encorsetada” (Light in a Corset),
a piece made in iron, wire, fabric and
adhesive PVC, representing a mannequin
as a symbol of how the male fantasy of
femininity is constructed. The author has
taken everyday objects from our lives,
such as a woman’s bra and a decorative
lamp, which in this case is used to create a
suggestive light to seduce the observer.
Rose windows, architectural elements from the Galician Romanesque style of the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
interpreted on a small scale and for a daily use.
c and adhesive PVC as m
quin is represented as
nn e
le fantasy of feminin
Using a technique dating from 2000 BC,
the lost wax method for gold and silverwork, the
pieces that comprise the “Colección de rosetóns
do románico galego” (Collection of rose
windows from the Galician Romanesque period)
stand out as a result of offering designs from
eleventh and twelfth century Galician rose
windows in jewellery. Creating the designs in
silver called for extensive fieldwork, visiting
the main churches built in the style throughout
Galiza, taking photographs and making
sketches, before creating a prototype that
guaranteed the accuracy of the final product
with the designs of the mediaeval architects.
g iro
The collection “Ceibalúa” (Freemoon) consists
of two earrings and a necklace made of silver and
cultivated pearls. It is inspired by observing nature
and the Galician sky “on a clear night, when the moon
wandered freely amongst the stars”. A silver cage
contains the pearl, representing the moon. The piece
is particularly noteworthy for its detailed process of
creation, resulting in a unique object that is highly
precise in all of its details.
The graphic work “A cor da terra” (The colour
of the earth) explores the idiosyncrasy of Galiza,
taking into account the environment, its climate, its social
and economic problems and politics in the widest sense of
the term: “all of the factors that provide us with character
and make men and women grow as living, rational
beings”. The piece is engraved using a wooden plate and
then coloured, and is aimed at expressing the uniqueness
of our region and its people through craftsmanship.
This is highly coherent with the author’s opinion of the
engraving, which he defines as “a reflection of the
capturing of the emotion, of the character or the social
atmosphere that surrounds us, and represents a window
that is open to helping us to develop our capacity for
imagination and humanisation”.
as l
r ed b
It is i
fr e e
“o n a
rs ered
of th
s th
de u
en a
en g
e of
This plant pot, weighing two kilos and
hand shaped in clay, is decorated with
high temperature enamels. Named
“Yerbera” it consists of two parts: the pot
to hold the earth, and the lid. Through
it, its author refers to problems caused
by the scarcity of water and the need
to preserve this natural resource. The lid
has a series of holes through which the
plants grow, as “over the cracked earth so
typical of dry periods, there is the hope
of what we can improve when we see the
plants grow out through the lid”.
e, a
nd p
roposes a more
Over the cracked earth
so typical of dry periods,
there is the hope of what
we can improve when we see the
plants grow out through the lid.
The unique nature of this exquisitely crafted
piece of jewellery, “Versus Torque”, lies in the
vindication for the use by women of this Celtic
decoration awarded to warriors, emphasising a
social superiority or used by the gods, who wore
the torque as part of their trappings. Based on
the traditional design made by artisans in the
hill forts, this classic ornament is made in the
shape of an open horseshoe, and proposes a
more up to date appearance and the use of
torques by women, far removed from the historic
memory of these and other cultures that served
to create modern-day Europe. The piece stands
out as a result of the eclectic use of its materials:
silver, gold, jet and a steel base.
Through a ‘unisex’ piece entitled “Trioval”,
the artist has recovered art inspired by
fishing gear –in this case fishing pots–
offering a homage to those who work
at sea. This light piece of jewellery
(weighing less than seventeen grams)
stands out for its simple lines, and may be
worn by men and women. It consists of ten
melted silver beads woven together using
silk thread. Each bead is formed in turn
by three oval pieces, made using medium
thickness wire soldered together.
it s
f ch
is transformed into a work of craftsmanship, as an alternative to
other more ‘noble’ raw materials, such as precious stones and metals.
by fi
n sp
A whole series of jewellery comprises the
work “Lapis de cores” (Coloured Pencil),
in which the artisan has taken an everyday
item, the pencil, with all of its associations
with the world of children and innocence, and
transformed it into a piece of craftsmanship,
turning away from more noble raw materials
such as metals and precious stones. The work
sits comfortably alongside contemporary
avant-garde movements such as Dadaism or
Pop Art, which introduced art into everyday
objects, bringing about a process of reflection
amongst critics and consumers of culture. The
set consists of earrings, a necklace, pin and
bracelet, and together with the wooden pencil
and paint, the materials used are sterling
silver (which replaces the lead in the pencil)
and threads in different colours.
ge to th
ose who work
ng p
Ceramic pieces on an oak wood base,
recreating a festive scene with eight
musicians representing the instruments
and clothing of a period from Galiza’s
history, and the footprints left by this
culture in the present day. The piece
“O serán desta aldea” (Evening in
the Village) is intended to be “a new
vision of the popular tradition reflected
in ceramics, and in the use of highquality materials”. As part of this
adaptation to modern times, women
are intentionally included, represented
by four figures in a circular design on
the wooden base, and who, like the
men, take part in the popular festival
in equal conditions.
re s
nce for th
e Ga
l i ci
e popular tradition
reflected in c
f th
of high-qualit
In this piece the material used –granite–
is of major importance, as in this case
it is 100% recycled material from
quarry remnants, with the implicit hard
work of the artisan in having to use
this material, and at the same time
as a homage to stone as a natural
resource of vast importance for the
Galician economy. “Transportiños” is
the result of laborious quarry work on
a small scale based on a type of stone
traditionally used for monumental or
functional elements, which in this case
has been transformed into a decorative
or interior design element with the aim
of transmitting a sentimental value. The
expression behind the work of David
Soengas, its author, is “there is no hard
stone, only a soft quarryman”.
as a way of life
Designing, making and selling. But above all, living
and working in a trade that is adapted to their
concept of life. A whole philosophy of work and
honesty underlies every piece made by Zimzelatum.
Jewellery that combines classical elegance with
avant-garde minimalism. A firm belief in the fact that
the great classics never fail. And that long lasting
elements achieve the value of truth.
The characteristic bracelets of
the Zimzelatum workshop, to the
left, together with a necklace
and set of earrings, which form
a part of their catalogue at
national and international crafts
fairs, as well as in the shops that
distribute their products.
in their workshop, in which the designs, sketches or rough versions made directly in
metal are turned into jewellery using hammering or chiselling techniques, combined
with the skilled handling of the blowtorch, clippers, polisher or microfusion machine,
the latest acquisition by these two artisans, used to melt small pieces of jewellery, a
process carried out by hand like everything else they produce.
Artistic Oxygen
Rosa María González Alonso and Camilo Rodríguez
Rial lived through tough times in the 1980’s, but
thanks to their ability to adapt to change, passed from
selling their jewellery in the street to professionalizing
their work, setting up their own business and having
an important distribution network in Galiza and the
rest of Spain, as well as at crafts fairs. “It’s difficult
for us to see ourselves as a company. It ended up being
our job, but without us being really aware of it. There
was a period of outright resistance, but now we see
everything more clearly”, they explain.
Their consolidation in the sector is thanks to the
jewellery they produce, gift items for businesses and
a decoration that uses primitive shapes from
traditional Galician and Celtic culture, bringing their
work to the homes, hands or necks of lovers of good
contemporary jewellery. Although they regularly bring
out new products, particularly decorative items,
their repertoire is based on classics with which
they always triumph.
to replace many of our pieces and extend our inventory, to respond to
For Rosa and Camilo, craftsmanship began as a way of life. But today
orders from the fairs we visit on a regular basis”.
their pieces are an exception. Their dedication and the details of their
Primitive designs, based on the beauty of simplicity and Celtic
work in silver, alpaca (a white metal alloy) and brass make Zimzesymbolism. The main achievement of Zimzelatum has been
latum a workshop of reference in Galiza as a result of the
to remain faithful to these elemental lines and work on
exclusiveness of their objects, mainly jewellery and dethem purely by hand, using a chisel and little else.
corative pieces. “We started out in this profession at
The ‘flagship’ accessories of the firm from Pontevethe end of the 1980’s. We focus our work as a way
dra are its famous bracelets, which continue to be
of living that goes beyond necessities, learning in
demanded by its main clients and which, like the
a self-taught way. More than a profession, it is a
rest of their jewellery, are made from polisway of living, a way of re-inventing yourself”,
hed silver, a timeless material that is always in
they explain, from their workshop in Vincios
style, together with brass, mixtures of brass and
(Gondomar – Pontevedra), a quiet space in
alpaca, or combining both of these materials with
contact with nature, which inspires a modern and
silver. Copper and even wood are used as mahighly exquisite product. In fact, their closeness to
terials, together with precious stones such as coral
the city of Vigo made them into what they themselNEW PIECES”.
or aquamarine, giving the piece a touch of colour.
ves define as “urban artisans”. “We make decora“The piece, in essence, is still the same. We have an
tive items and jewellery, at this moment in time mainly
extensive market we want to respond to with our brand
jewellery. We have a stable catalogue that works, and
philosophy, and we take charge of everything: the design,
while this is the case, we have to keep producing, although
manufacturing, and travelling around to sell our pieces”, they say.
we are constantly making innovations and adding new pieces”, they
Their working tools are also traditional. Different devices for technically
comment. “Ideally we should change our offer every season, but that’s
not possible, as fortunately we have a lot of demand that obliges us
treating the silver and other metals have gradually been incorporated
Like many artisans, Zimzelatum began their career selling from a street stall, in
Principe Street in Vigo, but as soon as the opportunity arose, Rosa and Camilo
became professionals in the trade, in this case with the support of the Galician
Artisans’ Association (AGA), a reference point in the sector. “When the AGA was
set up, our workshop took the decision to progress and evolve. Being a part of the
association allowed us to be less time in the street selling, and to focus on production.
It was a decision based on the reality of our situation, in line with the way things
are done today, and also served to legalise our professional situation and access
institutional grants that helped give our activity a dynamic boost”.
They entered the world of working with precious metals as part of a Bohemian
socio-cultural movement, suffused with the hippy philosophy, but saw how young
people in the twenty-first century “leave school with an industrial mentality, and are
more trained in the world of economics and business”. In terms of marketing, their
greatest strength is, without doubt, their product. Today they have a catalogue of
more than 300 pieces, to which more are constantly added. “When we bring out a
new piece, we like the fact that people see it and identify it with us, and everything
we want to do and transmit with it”, say Rosa and Camilo.
The need for contacts with foreign countries, a sign of the situation of a market that
is undergoing constant changes, have led Zimzelatum to regularly present their work
at trade fairs in Spain and abroad, in countries such as France, Italy, England or Germany. The trade fair in Paris stands out above all the others, as it is a country where
“crafts have a very important place, and there is major cultural value and respect
paid towards them”. These fairs have made it possible to sell their work throughout
the whole year, in Europe but also in Galiza; at Christmas or during the summer, as
well as “educating people in valuing hand-made items, not only the people who buy
but also those who look at our products”. They also take advantage of the trade fairs
to meet up with other colleagues. “We have excellent relations with all of the people
working in the profession, we all get on well together and that’s essential when it
comes to learning from each other, or solving any doubts we may have”, they say.
The workshop of Zimzelatum is now a solid enterprise, supported by the hours they
spend working with metal, and which is reflected in unique pieces that never go
Vincios–Arcos, 5
36316 Gondomar (Pontevedra)
Telephone/Fax: 986 363 345
e-mail: [email protected]
‘Raku’ Nigrán style
In the far-off year of 1978, as a student at the ‘Maestre Mateo’ School
of Applied Arts and Artistic Trades in Santiago, I saw a number of ceramic pieces in the Sargadelos Gallery that I thought were enigmatic, as if
they had wandered through the cosmos before arriving here. They were
works by Xabier Toubes, and had been made using the Raku technique.
In 1984, destiny led me to start out using this technique at the School
of Ceramics in La Bisbal (Girona). There I learned about the history,
techniques and processes involved in something that many considered as
an ‘anti-technique’. An extreme technique like the process involved, which
one either loves or hates. I ended up loving it.
Then came Faenza (Italy), in 1986, where above all the firing process
were much more evolved, and from where I obtained a light kiln, cheap
and versatile, which eventually ended up in all of the workshops and
studios of Raku creators in this part of the world.
In 1989 the passionate tale of Raku according to Nigrán began. Emilia
Guimeráns, a teacher at the ceramic workshop run by the Local Council
of Nigrán, Miguel Mázquez, professor of modelling and moulding at
the Municipal School of Arts and Trades in Vigo and myself decided to
organise a week of contemporary Raku. Those cold and warm December
weeks were not easy. The years went by, and the colours of the Raku
became personalised “in Nigrán style”. Mentallic reds1, frog green or the
adapted version of the song that Berto delighted us with:
In 2002, to celebrate an exhibition by Emilia and myself in Tokoname
(Japan), we had the privilege of visiting the house of Chojiro, the son
of Ameya in Kyoto, considered as the first Raku, dating from 1550. On
seeing the first kiln used, his tools, his equipment and his bowls, our legs
began to shake, and in my case I had a feeling I had only experienced
on seeing an exhibition by Marcel Duchamp in Madrid in the 1980’s.
What nobody knew, or nobody could clarify for us, was if Ameya had
emigrated to Japan or if he had been kidnapped, as the Japanese said.
Because otherwise, the Koreans affirmed that the Japanese needed
one of their countrymen to develop one of their main traditions: the tea
This said, the ideogram ‘Raku’ signifies liberation, happiness, enjoyment
and satisfaction. And everything that surrounds this art is usually something magic, as if taken from a fable.
Now in 2008, the year in which we reach adulthood (celebrating 18
years of existence), we continue to offer a technique that some have
classified as a ceramic ‘happening’, and others simply refer to as Raku,
Nigrán style.
Vigo, 21st May 2008
Miguel Vázquez Pérez
Professor of Ceramics at the Municipal School
of Arts and Trades of Vigo
“Tú tenias mucha “rasón”,
no me hase “reducsión”,
si no le echo SQ3 (sé-cu-tres)….
… Y volver, volver, volver….
a hacer Raku otra “ves”2
The centres would change, with the unfair pilgrimage of its school, the
area of A Porquería, the police and the area of Os Cotros.
In 1999 we celebrated our tenth anniversary, something difficult in this
part of the world, and with all of the enthusiasm and happiness transmitted by this technique, published a small book explaining the trials
and tribulations experienced up to that time, work by beginners, and a
poster. A large number of bowls were also made, offered as decorative
pieces for everyone who taken part in the process, or those who were just
passing by in front of the school.
Out of the three who started that week of contemporary Raku, only
two of us remain, and without the energy and determination of Emilia
Guimeráns it would have been difficult for us to arrive where we are
A play on the word ‘metallic’
Roughly translated from the original Galician, the lyrics are: “You were right, /it doesn’t reduce /if I don’t add SQ3… /…And going back, back, back… /To make Raku once again…
Enjoyment, happiness, pleasure… this is the meaning of the term “Raku” (樂). The history of this type of ceramics originates with a Korean immigrant
potter to use this firing technique, designed to created bowls and implements for the tea ceremony. Nigrán, in Pontevedra, preserves the tradition
who arrived in Kyoto (Japan) in 1525. His name was Chojiro, and he is considered as being the first
of Raku, and holds a festival and meeting every year in June with fervent admirers of this technique.
Random ceramics
More than thirty individual and collective exhibitions
serve as proof of the achievements of the sculptress
from Vigo, Emilia Guimeráns, in the world of ceramics.
She began to produce hand-made pieces of utility
ware, and now plays a fundamental role in training new
generations from the school of Nigrán, and promoting
projects such as the virtual ‘Tras Os Montes’ gallery
which help artisans working with ceramics in Galiza to
present their work beyond our frontiers.
‘Pan’ (Bread) is one of the latest works
by Emilia Guimeráns, her vision of the basic
products for life in a large format.
The bread is represented by a field of
wheat in white porcelain, using a very
minimalist ceramic technique.
The piece ‘Sal’ (Salt) also forms a part of the
series of natural elements the sculptress from
Vigo is working on, and is made using pieces
of white porcelain.
The art of ceramics in Galiza is present throughout all of the world
(in Japan, India, New York and Europe) thanks to a collective of
professionals who, from the schools of Vigo and Nigrán, give classes at
the same time as creating new formulas in their workshops to take their
art beyond the frontiers of the region. Virtual galleries, recreations of
the oriental ‘Raku’ ceremony, collective exhibitions, trips to visit other
groups and exchange knowledge with master potters from other cultures;
all of this effort is transformed into the recognition, and above all the
pleasing sensation, of “doing things just the way you like”.
This is how Emilia Guimeráns feels, an artist from Vigo who began by
creating pottery for everyday use, and whose work is now present in
the main art centres displaying ceramic pieces. Guimeráns describes
herself as a woman who does not feel a close affinity to possessions and
objects, and that for her the purpose of art lies more in the creation of a
piece than in the final result. At present she is working on a large-scale
piece based on primitive designs and nature, making every effort “as
long as it’s possible” to simplify things to the maximum. The result is a
piece of great beauty and intrigue. “Bread, salt, light, sea… right now
I’m recreating elements and basic, vital products that are monosyllabic.
Bread, for example, is represented by a field of wheat, based on stalks
in white porcelain. Salt is essential for life, and I’ve also recreated it
using pieces of porcelain… I’m playing around with all of these ideas”,
she says.
To the left, a vision of pirate
videos and CDs being sold at
village fairs. Flowers are one
of the most recurrent elements
in the work of Emilia Guimeráns after her stays in Holland
and Japan. The piece below is
‘Tócame y escúchame’ (Touch
me and listen to me), simulating
cowbells that emit a very ancestral sound, “as if you were on a
hillside and all of the goats had
just run past you”.
More than twenty years’ experience avail the trajectory of this artist, a
teacher at the School of Ceramics in Nigrán (Pontevedra), recently appointed as a member of the International Academy of Ceramics, an organisation with the presence of the world’s most prominent experts in the field.
She specialises in organic ceramics, saying “I began making objects for
everyday use, and travelled around fairs selling them. But I got tired of
that, because you get into a commercial routine, focusing on what the public wants and adapting your production accordingly. I’m a bit of a rebel
in that sense, and I decided try and concentrate on what I enjoyed making,
and stop worrying about whether it would sell or not.” This was the point
at which Guimaréns started combining her work with giving classes in
Nigrán, teaching what she knows best and also learning “through constant
communication with my students”, being able to finance works in which she
narrates “those things you most feel like telling”, generally based on her
outlook on contemporary reality, using the raw material of the earth.
This professional change was not sudden, but came about gradually
thanks to the advice of people telling her “you know, this really isn’t at all
bad”. “I started to work with shapes that were much less utilitarian, and
send them to competitions. When they were chosen, it gave me encouragement”. At the Porcelain Triennial Exhibition in Nyon her pieces received
awards on two occasions, and she had the privilege of forming part of
a prestigious competition in Mino, Japan. “It was that and comments from
different people that helped establish the direction I should be working
in, and to see what would happen”, she adds.
Thanks to a grant from the Dutch government, she spent three months in
one of the world’s most important ceramics centres. A space with the best
technology, kilns of all kinds and sizes, and specific workshops for moulds,
wood and metalwork. There she had her own studio and was able to
consolidate her knowledge of ceramics techniques, which she perfected before going on to apply them in line with her artistic philosophy.
“It’s important to know the technique as a vehicle for what you want to
express. But you don’t have to unveil all of the techniques in everything
you do, there’s no need to be a virtuoso. In ceramics there are so many
procedures and a sense of perfection that may turn on you and become
a hindrance. I think it’s better to free yourself from these constraints, so
you can say what you want with more liberty”.
The Japanese influence
At the time of this interview, Emilia is resting at her home in Vigo for five
The second meeting was with seven master artisans from India, after
days, prior to travelling to China to take part in her first meeting after
a trip from the north to the south of the country by train to meet them
being appointed as an active member of the International Academy of
personally, based on an initial contact she and Miguel Vázquez had
Ceramics. It is a country she wishes to investigate, in the same way as she
made in Galiza. All the indications seem to point in the direction of
did with Japan and India, where she established contacts with experts
China being her third adventure, with specialists invited to these working
in the field of ceramics and also had the opportunity to discover Asian
meetings that highlight local creativity, and thanks to which research into
culture, in which she found many similarities. “I feel very close to the
ceramics in Galiza is put on the international map.
Japanese. I even think they were once our cousins”, she says with certain
The oriental influence is also seen every year at a ceramics meeting
irony. “There, ceramics are totally present in homes, and the crafts
held in Nigrán: a Galician recreation of a Raku session. “We
fairs have a totally different appearance. There aren’t
discovered the technique because Miguel Vázquez (one of
stands, instead people set up their products the way
its firmest supporters in Galiza) had been in Italy and
they’ve always done it, naturally, and you can see up
Gerona, and saw it there. When he came back and
to two kilometres of stalls. It’s a concept that feels
told us, we said “let’s give it a try”. We started to
very close to home, in a country with such a distant
experiment and saw that it was quite spectacular
image”. Although throughout her twenty years of
and brought together all of the aspects we were
experience she has worked with very different
interested in: the results and also the fact that
techniques and dealt with different themes,
it’s a very participative process, as you can’t
learning about Japanese ceramics left a strong
do it on your own, it fosters communication and
impression on the work of Guimeráns, leaving her
collaboration with others. It’s like farming work
with the firm belief that in art, less is always more.
in the old days, when the seeds were sown in the
The Galician artist’s contacts with the East began
fields, and all of the local neighbours helped to
to take shape five years ago, during a visit with
bring in the crops. That creates a very special type
the ceramic artist Miguel Vázquez to take part at
of spirit”, says Guimeráns, who throughout her career
an exhibition in Japan. “I thought ‘what am I going to
has changed styles, and even alternated between
do here, if this is the paradise of ceramics?’ I had created
a strong use of colour and pure white, but who remains
a piece based on flowers, representing nature and as something
faithful to the material from the earth, “which has a lot to offer”,
you give as a gift when you’re invited to a celebration”. This led to a
for a life dedicated to art.
series of workshops organised by the local council of Nigrán, with the
Raku is considered as something of an ‘anti-technique’, as although it
aim of allowing Galician artists to exchange knowledge and techniques
is possible to foresee the result, many aspects are totally random. For
with specialists from Asia. “During the event, we got in touch with the
this reason it calls for a very open mind, and knowing how to adapt to
six master artisans who came to the first ceramics meeting that was
this randomness. For Emilia Guimeráns it represents a specific technique
organised in Nigrán, with the title ‘Japan, close to you’. We wanted it to
within her work, but a philosophy she likes to apply to her daily life: “I
be plural, and so there were ceramics, but also calligraphy and ikebana, try to apply it at all times, to have goals but stay open to whatever life
arts that are representative of Japanese culture”, she explains.
offers you”.
Liberty. This is the objective of Emilia Guimeráns,
as she gradually sheds the things around her. “I
worked for a long time in the workshop of Miguel
Vázquez, but we reached a point where we decided
that each of us needed our own space, and I became
an atypical kind of ceramic artist, as normally
you have to wait until you’ve got a certain amount
of work to your name and a studio with a great
kiln, but I only had a small number of pieces. My
philosophy changed: try and do as much as possible
with a small amount”. And so, Emilia Guimeráns
cooks up her ideas at her home in Vigo, a Bohemian
space full of books and with a kitchen full of ceramic
pieces, each with its own history. Also in the kitchen,
alongside other ceramics and materials, there is a
laptop, from where she plays an active role in the
blog La Barbotina (http://www.barbotina.blogspot.
com/), makes sketches of her sculptures, and stores
her creations. Once she has a clear idea of what
she wants to make, Emilia Guimeráns goes to a
workshop where they have the kiln and machinery
she needs. “Here at home I draw, I have a potter’s
wheel, and if I need to do anything I can convert my
house into a workshop quickly”.
Emilia Guimeráns was recently
named a member of the International
Academy of Ceramics, and is one of
the figures behind the Trasosmontes
Virtual Gallery.
In the Spring of 2008, at an exhibition at the Contemporary Ceramics
Fair of Aragón (CERCO, in Zaragoza), considered as the most important
event in Spain, the Trasosmontes Virtual Gallery was presented (http://, designed to offer information on
this discipline in Galiza and exhibiting the work of Emilia Guimeráns, Suso
Dobao, Marta Armada, Javier Aguilera, Miguel Vázquez and Verónica
Pérez. The project began with a physical presentation, with the six artists
showing their most recent works on one of the stands at the event, although
it is essentially a means of diffusion based on the Internet.
“The idea came about spontaneously after we were invited to the CERCO
event as a gallery. Six of us got together at first, although we are now
looking at how to develop the project, as there are a lot of people doing
really interesting things that aren’t getting any exposure”, says Emilia
Guimeráns, adding, “there are some really interesting people coming out
of the schools, for example in Vigo, who are making serious headway and
organising exhibitions at alternative level. Getting your foot in the door of
the professional art gallery system is more complex. The world needs to
be more agile, and you have to be resourceful. The Internet is our platform, but if other initiatives or possibilities arise out of it, they’ll be given
a warm welcome”.
Through its virtual gallery, the collective aims at exploring different areas:
being more realist, more acidic and ironic, more comical, more minimalist
and more Pop, with artists of different ages and using different styles, all
from Galiza. “This is just the beginning of the story. We’ve got things up
and running, but there is still a long way to go”, she concludes.
e-mail: [email protected]
Although the predominant colour in her most recent work is white, the intentional
use of strong colour to elicit emotions is present in many of her pieces.
Meeting places,
blurred boundaries
by Xosé Manuel Lens
Where do we see the limits of creation? Where are the places that exist on the margins, at the
frontiers of a given creative style? The relationship that exists between crafts and visual arts serves
as an example of the disappearance of these boundaries, resulting in a blurred boundary, a deliberate exchange between two worlds, two poles, a space of relative distance, with more connection
points than fractures. In this section we will see a series of notes on that explore these connection
points, open up new inroads, hybridize different facets, and bring different fields closer together.
Meeting places: craftsmanship seen as a nexus related to the body, with authorship. Manual crafts
have always been present in design and the development of a work of art: the hand of the painter
using a brush, shaping a fragment of stone or a block of wood; for this reason it is not by chance
that when we create links and crossroads, the action of the hand is the main factor in the boundaries
that are blurred in this encounter. Here we discover Xabier Toubes, Helena Colmeiro or Acisclo Manzano modelling ceramics, reaffirming their work in contemporary forms of expression; Carlos Rial or
Diego Santomé constructing modules of autobiographical repetition: Montse Rego or Mónica Alonso questioning aspects of daily life related to the body; David Castro, structuring the non-essential
parts of furniture to recreate possible objects and devices. The process of creation moves comfortably between frontiers, in the different modern day proposals that draw strength directly from a
dialogue with craftsmanship, with manual production, related to an activity, applying exercises and
methods for effective, creative completion. Ignacio Basallo also explores working implements, Francisco Leiro updates the work of popular sculptors, while Silverio Ribas or Manolo Paz strengthen relations with quarrymen. These authors have been capable of transcending these frontiers, affirming
these encounters with different boundaries, as is the case with the work of architects who scrutinise
and redefine cultural topography, and create a critical interpretation of tradition, of a memory
that is never extinguished and continues to shine forth behind different types of work, products and
areas. The cultural perspective does not turn its back on popular elements, and always takes into
account a relationship with the territory, with its inhabitants, with our collective spirit, with places and
memories, key factors that are constantly applied and defined in modern creation.
The names mentioned above serve as an example, as Galician creators, of the difficulty that exists
in defining different fields, and above all the inexhaustible evolution of artistic terminology, bearing
witness to actions, postures and manoeuvres designed to come ever closer to the world of crafts, of
design, by many contemporary creators. One of the fundamental examples of this situation begins
with the changes that took place at the end of the nineteenth century with the Arts and Crafts
movement of William Morris, which sought out a relationship between arts based on an ethical and
aesthetic principal, a movement that saw its greatest moment of expansion in Modernism, applied
in a global manner, even to architecture. The avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century
brought about a renewal of forms of expression, together with technical and social conditions, in
the hands of emblematic creators, especially the Bauhaus, in an exchange of radical strategies for
creation and production. They were years of change, of transit, in the arts and their relationships at
social and economic level. We also saw the exile of the ‘Laboratory of Shapes’ of Luís Seoane and
Isaac Díaz Pardo, and the singular products of Sargadelos, continuing through the second half of
the century with the Scandinavian and Italian schools, then ending up in the last decades of the century. Trends that endorse the inexhaustible relationship between different creative fields, by artists,
designers and artisans, with the aim of combining strengths and concentrate these relationships on a
type of creativity intended to be useful, practical, critical and with a firm sense of place.
The present, which wanders between the contamination of forms of expression and references,
adopts this relationship between different disciplines in a dialogue with the territory that leads to
a suggestive type of hybridization. It sinks the roots of its relationships and bases into the deepest
strata of the territory, at social level, striving for a renewal, a continuous change of expression
and reciprocal resources. We discover artists seeking a means to make this relationship more solid,
opening channels of communication between the worlds of art and crafts, or between artists and
artisans. Links and bonds that are possible, necessary, daring and even undisciplined, in these
contaminated spaces.
ro sa higue ro
L´ Ar t i gi a n o i n f i era , M i l a n 2 0 07
I n tergi f t , M a dri d 2 0 0 8
Fei ra de Pa ri s , 2 0 0 8
a feitu ra
Iberjoya, M adrid 2008
Feira de Paris, 2008
Collec tione–Tendenc e, Frankfur t 2008
ana c a m b a
In terg i f t , M adrid 2008
Col l ect i one–Tendenc e, Frankfur t 2008
a uga t int a
I n ter g if t, M a dr i d 2 0 0 8
dr uída
I n tergi f t , M a dri d 2 0 0 8
I berj oya , M a dri d 2 0 0 8
a rd en tia
Iberjoya, M adrid 2008
Collec tione–Tendenc e, Frankfur t 2008
el i s abet h s al gado
L´Ar t i g i an o i n f i era, Mi l an 2007
In terg i f t , Madri d 2008
c g re c ycl e d gl as s wo r k s h o p
L ´ A r tig ia n o i n f i er a , M i l a n 2 0 07
I n ter g if t, Madr i d 2 0 0 8
Feir a de Pa r i s , 2 0 0 8
silve re ira
I berj oya , M a dri d 2 0 0 8
C ol l ec t i on e– Ten den c e, Fra n k fur t 2 0 0 8
pac a pec a
Collectione–Tendence, Frankfur t 2008
ra món con d e
Intergif t, M adrid 2008
re gal ce rám ica
I n tergi f t , M a dri d 2 0 0 8
m ay sil
L ´ A r tig ia n o i n f i er a , M i l a n 2 0 07
Feir a de Pa r i s , 2 0 0 8
Modern times have come
to the bagpipe, and in general
too much of the sector dedicated
to making musical instruments
Galiza thanks to the latest
R&D&I techniques, which at the
same time as ensuring respect
towards the environment, are
being applied in workshops with
the aim of improving the sound
quality of the region’s traditional
instruments. The workshop of
Lis Latas in the city of Lugo is
a perfect example, and with
the invention of the ‘tuneable
chanter’ represented a quantum
leap in resolving the problems
associated with tuning
the instrument.
2008 was the year that marked the recognition of the ‘tuneable chanter’, a device patented four
years previously created in the workshop and laboratory of Lis Latas, a lover of Galician music
from the city of Lugo, who apart from being an artisan is also the musical director of the folk
group Reviravolta. At his workshop, fifty percent of his time is dedicated to making bagpipes, and
the other fifty percent to investigating how to improve them, with the aim of responding to the real
needs of professional and amateur musicians, making scientific advances in the areas of tuning,
ergonomics and other technical improvements.
While in its origins the bagpipe was often made by the musician himself, with a limited technical
knowledge, with the passing of time production has come into the hands of skilled manufacturers,
making every effort to ensure the sound of their bagpipes blends perfectly with that of the other
instruments, and mainly to ensure a correct tuning, the weak point of the bagpipe in extreme
temperatures, or when playing together as part of a band or orchestra with other instruments. But
the contact between the maker and the player never totally disappeared, and the case of the
Lis Latas Workshop is proof of this. All of his instruments reach the hands of their owners after a
rigorous quality control process carried out by the bagpiper Pepe Vaamonde, co-inventor of the
tuneable chanter, in his quest to discover the ‘philosopher’s stone’ that could bring an end to the
tuning problems suffered by the bagpipe. In the same way as the bagpipes that leave the workshop, Vaamonde spent six years testing each of the prototypes of the chanter made by Lis Latas
and his team, until finally arriving at the version that was presented in public in March 2008 at the
Museum of the Galician People. To celebrate this presentation, an act was organised that brought
together Pepe, his brother Suso Vaamonde, Iván Costa, Edelmiro Fernández, Anxo Lois Pintos (from
the group Berrogüetto), Bruno Villamar, Xosé Manuel Budiño and Brais Monxardín. Together they
performed the piece Farruquiña chama á porta, so that the audience could see for themselves the
effectiveness of the device, which consists of five sections that can be taken apart, but which have
the appearance of a single unit when joined together. “It was a really special moment to see eight
musicians from three different generations performing together using the chanter, without any
rehearsal. It was as if they’d been playing together all their lives. It was a very emotional moment
that had never happened before, and will be difficult to see again”, explains Xosé Luís Latas Vilanova, recent winner of the Galician Crafts Award given by the Regional Ministry of Industry and
Commerce for having invented the device.
Different stages in the process of making a bagpipe
in the workshop of Lis Latas, in Lugo, such as carving the
wooden pieces and creating the mouthpieces by computer.
The discovery of the tuneable
chanter was not a matter
of luck or chance.
Scrupulous attention to
detail is one of the
trademarks of the
artisan from Lugo,
who carefully
selects the
different types
of woods used
in his workshop,
uses computers
to make designs
and carry out
sound tests, as well
as to reply to orders
received from outside
of Galiza, and also makes
the necessary tools that are
not available on the market, or adapts
existing tools to correctly handle the original materials until creating the
perfect instrument. Lis Latas believes “in the symbiosis that is necessary
between the musician and the artisan in order to improve and face up
to new challenges in the construction of the bagpipe”. Together with
Vaamonde, his team also has the outstanding collaboration of his sister
Marisa, who creates the bags and outer coverings of the bagpipes,
focusing on comfort of use. Between the process of sawing the wood and
the final packaging there is a whole manufacturing process that involves
the carving and hollowing out of the different sections, the preparation
of the ferrules, sanding and waxing, preparation of the chanter, drilling
the holes for the different notes, and sealing off the bag. Once the
instrument has been assembled, the quality control process begins,
checking the stability of the wood used, the correct selection of chanters
and reeds, and a technical check of the tone and tuning.
Eureka!, the chanter has arrived!
The chanter is the part of the bagpipe that is similar in appearance to
a flute, and which is used to produce the melody. The sound is produced
by the palleta, the reed that vibrates to give it all of its power and
harmonious sound. The creators of the new mechanism had a very clear
concept from the outset: any change that was made to it could not alter
the acoustics of the traditional Galician bagpipe. “When we started
working, we had a clear idea that it should sound like a fixed chanter,
and that it was essential to maintain the quality and the tone of the
traditional bagpipe”, he says. Based on this idea, Lis Latas and Pepe
Performances using the tuneable chanter:
Berrogüetto at the Rosalía de Castro
Theatre in Coruña (above) and an image
from the concert presenting the tuneable
chanter at the Museum of the Galician
People in March 2008.
Vaamonde began to investigate, and a large number of pieces were
rejected. “We threw out lots of prototypes, and created chanters in all
shapes and sizes. For every change that was decided on, up to fifty
different chanters were produced”.
Before reaching the definitive model that was presented in March 2008,
there were years of work and a major economic investment of more than
120,000 euros. There were also moments that helped encourage them
in their task, such as receiving first prize in the Inventions Patent Awards
for 2004, which cover any invention throughout the whole of Spain in
any professional sector. The prize served as recognition of the enormous
technical advance this piece represented in the history of Galician
The final product we see today is a chanter that is comprised of five
different sections that slot together, and are capable of overcoming
problems derived from hot or cold weather conditions. By moving the
parts closer together or further apart, it is possible to tune the chanter.
“Using this system, tuning the bagpipe no longer depends exclusively on
the chanter reed, the temperature and the construction of the bagpipe,
but instead it can now be modified by a semitone, depending on the
needs of the player”, says the artisan. For example, at 25 or 5 degrees,
or 0 or 18 degrees, the tuning of the instrument can be guaranteed,
without the weather affecting it in any way. It also means players do not
have to change over chanters of different sizes, something that makes
life much easier for musicians playing in concerts.
According to Lis Latas, the device is ideal for professional bagpipers
and those at a less advanced level. “In fact”, he says, “it’s more difficult
to fit the reed to a normal chanter than a tuneable one”. The result
of this new invention may be heard at the concerts of groups such as
Berrogüetto, Budiño or the Pepe Vaamonde Group, and its morphology
and history is detailed on the website of the Latas workshop at www.
Musicians and inventors. Galician artisans are recovering old
pieces of which only drawings or photographs remained and
had been lost as a result of falling into disuse, or from wars
or conflicts. Although the bagpipe is still the main instrument,
traditional percussion and the hurdy-gurdy are also being
recovered, evolving towards instruments that can be played
and tuned easily, while remaining faithful to Galician traditions.
Avant-garde Luthiers
The musicians Pepe
and Suso Vaamonde try out
two bagpipes in the workshop
of Lis Latas However, he is by no means resting on his laurels, as the
artisan from Lugo hopes to continue moving ever closer to the degree of
perfection required by modern day music. At the age of 37 he created
an investigative ‘route map’ that would last “until I reach the age of 65”.
At the moment he is working on a concert chanter, designed for playing a
repertoire alongside a symphony orchestra and choir. “We also want to
extrapolate what we have so far to other tones, and to continue studying
so that Galician music can continue moving forward”.
According to Latas, after testing the tuneable chanter, Budiño
enthusiastically declared that the Galicians had discovered “the best
musical invention in the last hundred years”. However, he is not the only
one to have enjoyed success thanks to this advance in crafts techniques
applied to music. Brais Monxardín won the 2007 edition of the
prestigious Constantino Bellón traditional Galician music award, playing
a typical muñeira tune written by himself (called Aires de San Martín)
and Bach’s Suite Nº3 using the tuneable chanter. The musician from
Fonsagrada stated at the time that the invention had allowed him to tune
the instrument in a “faster and more precise” manner.
In the Celtic music community, the tuneable chanter is causing a sensation.
Orders have come in from all over the world, from Ireland, the USA,
Italy or Portugal. “Three months after starting to sell them, in March
2008, we’d already sold fifty chanters” says Lis Latas, specifying that the
orders would take five to six months to complete, “the same time it takes
to create a set of bagpipes”. The invention has marked a before and
after in the history of the bagpipe, which may now stand alongside other
instruments characterised by the absolute perfection of their tuning.
Name of the workshop: Obradoiro Lis
Location: Lis Latas Vilanova
Rúa Alvedro 28
27003 Lugo
Contact: [email protected]
Lis Latas was born in Lugo in 1971,
and forms part of a new generation
of artisans who are combining
tradition and research to meet the
new demands of Galician musicians.
His workshop specialises in making
bagpipes, which are made by hand and
are characterised by having a special
tonal ‘colour’ and an absolute technical
perfection, combined with an exquisite
finish and all the beauty of the Galician
instrument par excellence.
Together with his daily work, he may
be considered as a lucky man. When a
chanter (the pipe with holes for playing
the notes) fell to the floor and split in
two, on piecing it back together and
discovering that it maintained all of
its sound quality he reached an initial
hypothesis that would lead him, six
years later, to be the creator of the
‘tuneable chanter’. This invention
is now revolutionising the world of
contemporary bagpipe performance.
A number of professional instrument makers in Galiza are working to
counteract the effects caused by exposing bagpipes to contrasts of hot
and cold temperatures, from damp or excessively dry conditions that
affect the wood and the pipe mountings, and above all the chanter reed,
due to its proximity to the holes in the chanter. The higrotapón created
by the artisan Sito Carracedo is also designed to overcome problems
related to changes in the weather, and to ensure the tuning is a perfect
as possible. This device is a type of humidifier, consisting of a rod with a
small section inside containing a dampened wick, which helps keep the
chanter reed damp. It is ideal for playing in dry climates or in places
with air conditioning, heating or dehumidifiers.
Many of the artisans making musical instruments in Galiza today are
fully aware that the process of creation must be closely linked to the
preservation of popular culture and its transmission and continuity in the
present day. A writer, restorer, creator and inventor, Carracedo is a fine
example of this. At the age of 21 he set up his first workshop where
he made bagpipes, pipes, clarinets and side drums, after training with
the master craftsman Antón Corral, with whom he learned to play the
bagpipe, build them and make chanters. Today he continues to make
traditional Galician bagpipes, but as part of a process of reaching
out to an international market, also makes
other types from areas with Celtic
origins, such as the ‘small
pipe’ from Northumbria in
the north of England, or the
Scottish bagpipe known
as the ‘dudelsack’. He also
works on recovering ancient
instruments, such as the gaita
de barquin bagpipe from the
south of Galiza that has fell
out of use a century ago, the
sackpfeifen, from Germany, of
which only photos and etchings
are preserved, or the Veneta
bagpipe from Italy, which
disappeared after the Second
World War.
Carracedo is one of the ‘disciples’
of Antón Corral, a hugely popular
bagpipe player and maker,
who has created a school in the
same way as the famous Seivane
The bagpipe is not the only traditional
Galician instrument, nor the only one that
Galician artisans work with. Some of them,
like Xoán Manuel Tubio, Xaneco, specialise
in percussion, and produce side drums
or bass drums in their workshop that are
essential for accompanying the bagpipes
and voices of traditional Galician musical
quartets, the same groups who played at
festivals before the appearance of more
polished travelling orchestras, and who
continue to be demanded by lovers of
traditional Galician music.
workshop. Both continue to be references for
new generations, and in the case of Seivane,
his workshop in Cambre is also exploring
means of improving bagpipe tuning, such
as the pallón Seipal, designed to achieve
tonal stability in any humidity or temperature
conditions. Together with the quality of his
instruments, Seivane has modernised his
channels for selling and distribution, offering
the possibility of buying tailor-made bagpipes
over the Internet, selecting all of the individual
components according to the buyer’s tastes and
The woods used for manufacturing bagpipes
have nearly always been from fruit trees, while
the most highly valued is the buxo or box tree.
Today, this raw material continues to be used
in many traditional workshops, such as Musical
JR in the town of Carballo, whose pieces are
made using box wood, rosewood, pau santo,
ebony or granadillo, all of which are treated
naturally. The techniques and machinery used
are evolving at a steady rate, although the
experienced hand of the master craftsman and
his knowledge of historical prototypes continue
to be fundamental in maintaining the quality of
Galician instruments.
The designs used continue to preserve the
traditional ornamental style, although the
workshop of Gaitas Seivane has shown that
the use of inlays of mother-of-pearl and silver
or connecting sections in white metal or silver,
together with adjustments to the lathing styles
used, have brought these traditional instruments
up to date with modern tastes, and have made
it possible to personalise the instrument for
each customer.
Xoán Manuel Tubio,
luthier from the Xaneco workshop
“Without doubt, the hurdy-gurdy will be the
Galician instrument of the 21st Century”
Full image and details of a hurdy-gurdy from the Xaneco Workshop,
which specialises in the recuperation of this mediaeval European
instrument that had such an important impact on Galician culture.
Since 1996, Xaneco has had a workshop in
Outeiro de Rei, working to endow percussion
instruments with the same prestige as the bagpipe, and also to popularise the hurdy-gurdy.
An instrument with mediaeval origins and of
great ornamental beauty, the hurdy-gurdy
arrived in Galiza along the Way of St. James.
It features prominently in Galician iconography, especially in the Portico da Gloria in the
cathedral of Santiago, where two of the 24
ancients are playing the hurdy-gurdy at the top
of the main arch. Xaneco’s workshop is a clear
example of how modernity and total respect
towards traditional craftsmanship live alongside
each other in Galiza.
O What led you to set up your workshop
in 1996?
The idea of being able to make a living making
instruments used in traditional Galician music,
and at the same time creating pieces that
were in line with the demands of professional
musicians. I was also seduced by the possibility
of working professionally on creating a product
made in Galiza, the result of the wisdom
of popular traditions, and which contributes
towards keeping our musical culture alive in the
21st Century.
O Why did you specialise in percussion, and
where do you find the models for making your
I learned to play traditional Galician per-
cussion at a time when it was considered as
something inferior to the bagpipe, both in terms
of playing it and making it. I was driven by
the idea of contributing towards bringing that
level of recognition to percussion instruments
and players. The models I use for my pieces are
a mixture of features and measurements from
old instruments and models I’ve created, taking
into account the knowledge I acquired from the
techniques of the Luthiers.
O Do you maintain the sound and appearance
of the ancient instruments, or are they adapted
to the demands of modern-day musicians?
How do you make your own adaptations to the
I try to combine the aesthetic features and
Different stages of working with wood to make percussion
instruments such as the tambourine or bass drum.
Xaneco produces totally hand-made castanets and tambourines,
together with other traditional Galician musical instrument.
O What is so special about a hurdy-gurdy
for an artisan who specialises in instruments?
On the one hand there’s the question of its
construction, which is very complex and time
consuming, and on the other the symbolism it
has in our culture. It’s a real challenge to pick
up a two hundred-year old hurdy-gurdy, study
it, and use it as the basis for constructing a new
one that is adapted to the needs of modernday musicians, while maintaining the essential
sound of the Galician hurdy-gurdy. It’s a great
feeling to make an instrument that comes from
a time when lyrical compositions from the kingdom of Galiza were some of the most cultured of the time, and it was a basic reference
throughout all of Europe. It’s also a great res70
ponsibility to contribute towards the instrument
continuing to be played in Galiza for at least a
few more centuries, an instrument that blind musicians kept alive over the years, and it’s thanks
to them that we can make hurdy-gurdies today
that have their own particular sound.
O Is it an instrument that’s much in demand in
the twenty-first century?
There are more and more men and women who
are learning to play the hurdy-gurdy. I think it
will be the Galician instrument of this century,
in the same way as the bagpipe was in the
twentieth century.
O After twelve years, at what stage is your
business, and who are your main clients? Where
are they from?
Right now we need a new workshop where I
can step up production, as there’s a very big
demand that I can’t deal with from our current
workshop. The clients I have at present are from
all walks of life, I work for a cultural association
in Galiza, traditional musicians, folk groups,
Galician centres (mainly in Europe), and even
musicians in the rest of the Peninsula who have
nothing to do with our traditional music, but
have a very high opinion of the instruments we
make in Galiza.
O Are there many workshops in Europe that
make hurdy-gurdies?
There’s much more of a tradition of the instrument than here, as in Galiza there was practically a generational divide. The recuperation
work of Faustino Santalices was a key factor,
with the publication of a book and a record
featuring the Galician hurdy-gurdy in the
middle of the last century. If it hadn’t been for
him, it’s possible that the hurdy-gurdy tradition would have been lost in Galiza, and we
wouldn’t have any recordings. This isn’t the case
in France, where the hurdy-gurdy was used at
village dances when here we used the bagpipe. Today they are made in crafts workshops
throughout all of Europe (in Portugal, France,
England, Austria, Italy, Hungary and the eastern
countries), in all shapes and colours, with a lot
of elements that make them different from our
own version, in both their shape and their sound
O What are the most technically complex
aspects of making a hurdy-gurdy, and how long
does it normally take to make one?
It’s a very complicated instrument to make, as it
contains a lot of moving parts that have to be
made very precisely in order for its mechanism
to work properly. It normally takes about two
months of solid work to make a hurdy-gurdy.
O Your technical work goes hand in hand with
a commitment towards Galician culture and
music. How do you as artisans collaborate with
musicians to carry out your work?
In my workshop, respect for Galician culture
is fundamental. I try and make sure that all
of my products maintain that character which
sets us apart from the rest. I make sure that
by maintaining our traditions, we maintain
our existence as a people. Also the symbiosis
between the artisan and the musician is
essential for a luthier. It would be impossible to
improve the overall quality of the instruments
we make without listening to the complaints or
suggestions of musicians about the problems
they have when using them.
Name of the workshop: Xaneco,
Galician Musical Instruments Workshop
Xoán Manuel Tubio Fernández
Barrio do Monte, 21
27150 Outeiro de Rei (Lugo)
Contact: [email protected]
The Xaneco Workshop was
created in 1996 to combine the
study of ancient instruments
with modern-day construction
methods, staying in constant
contact with musicians to discover their needs. Xaneco specialises in traditional percussion
instruments (drums, tambourines, bass drums, castanets,
drumsticks, hammers, spoons,
bones and the ‘charrasco’ (a
wooden frame with bells) as
well as the hurdy-gurdy, an
instrument he learned to make
at the workshop of the luthier
Xermán Arias de Sarria.
the sound of the ancient instruments, with
the sound and appearance demanded by
modern musicians. This means that any new
development or innovation that can be included
in the instrument will always have a relation
with our tradition. Before making the pieces in
the workshop, the design process involved is
highly complex and ensures they are unique.
Atlantic design is growing from strength
to strength in its most industrial facet.
Taking the peculiarities of Galiza
and applying them to graphic design,
products or spaces is the work of
Cenlitrosmetrocadrado (One hundred
litres per square metre), a studio that
has been working since January 2007
on finding integral imagery solutions for
Galician businesses and institutions. Its
main weapon is combining beauty with
Companies are turning to industrial design more and more, a discipline
of functional art that affects the most aesthetic and humanistic aspects of
products and objects that are produced industrially. The firm intention of
Cenlitrosmetrocadrado, a company based in Santiago de Compostela,
was to fill the gap that exists in Galiza in this area, and offer integral solutions to the region’s companies and institutions. “The three of us who are
partners in the company [Manuel del Río Regos, Xabier Rilo and Ricardo
Tubío] studied together, and saw there was a niche in the market that
wasn’t covered, and in which we could work. There are lots of graphic
design companies in Galiza, but none for product or industrial design.
We wanted to work from a much more interdisciplinary perspective to
present more than other companies offer, based on the fact that the roots
of design all come from the same point”, they explain.
This added value ranges from providing clients with graphic elements
(corporate imagery, packaging, gift items, leaflets, audio-visual projections and signposting), to bringing a social, emotional, ecological and
practical perspective to the interiors of their premises, or creating reactions as a result of reinterpreting everyday objects, such as a gift box or
the ribbon on a diploma.
“We’ve got enough industry here to work with industrial design, but the
companies continue to be wary of getting involved in projects of this kind,
which have an important production cost. In Catalonia for example, there
is a culture of design as an integral part of companies that is much more
difficult to find here”.
For the time being, a year and a half after it was created, the main methods used by Cenlitrosmetrocadrado to come into contact with potential
clients are direct visits, mouth-to-mouth information and its website (www., which includes a blog designed to generate
debate and discussion about the current situation of Galician design.
“We started out with the idea that there are certain prejudices and
preconceptions about designers that go against us, because we’re seen
as artists and people think that’s as far as it goes, that you’re going to
present them with a really costly project and it won’t have much to do
with what they really want. For that reason you’ve got to go to the client
with proposals that are tailor-made for their needs, knowing what you’re
putting forward to them and the best thing for their company at that
moment in time, and in the market they want to enter or capture. When
we present our work, we also explain the way we see their work, and of
understanding what’s around us”, they explain.
A ‘Unidade Básica Atenuante de Morriña’ é un proxecto que
resume a filosofía de traballo de Cenlitrosmetrocadrado.
Trátase dunha caixa de regalo pensada para os mozos que
están fóra de Galiza, ben estudando, ben traballando. Inclúe
produtos da terra nun orixinal envoltorio que despois se pode
converter nunha caixa decorativa para gardar cousas na casa.
This contextualisation of the situation is based on a business philosophy
that can be summed up in a single concept: “Atlantic design”. It involves
considering each project from the point of view of Galiza, its climate,
its culture, and the idiosyncrasy of its people. Manuel explains it in the
following terms: “We want to be different, to think about things in a different way, because in such a globalised world, the fact that we all think
alike can be very boring. Design is almost lacking in identity, you see a
project and you don’t know where it comes from, the cultural aspects that
are involved. In the land we grew up in, Galiza, there are a number of
factors that make us different, and just like you live in a certain way, you
design in a certain way. It’s something inherent and logical”.
Playing with materials, achieving a result
Imagining, studying, testing and finding what you are looking for. The
creative stages of the team from Cenlitrosmetrocadrado may be seen in
the final result they deliver to their clients. Everything is tested, various
prototypes are made, colours and typography are changed, materials
are swapped around until the ideal solution is found.
This process may be seen in their work for the ProHeritage Foundation in
Rois, responsible for the recovery, cataloguing and diffusion of heritage. In its corporate image and applications, as well as in its promotional
leaflet, a symbolism is used with mythological beings taken from the oral
If clients have specific needs, these are analysed to find the best possible
solution. In the Academic Excellence Awards for 2007, presented by the
Regional Ministry of Education, they provided a metaphoric image of the
student an integral component of progress, an image that was used on
the awards table, the audiovisual display, invitations, envelopes, programme and even the diploma, which replaced the traditional ribbon for an
original piece of red felt.
“We aren’t artisans, but we love working with our hands. And in our work
you can see that there is manual work involved. We have an approach
that pays a great deal of respect towards crafts”, they emphasise.
On the left, an example of a graphic design project for a
campaign by the Regional Ministry of Education and University
Organisation on Health and Safety Risks at Work. Above,
business cards that also served as wrappers for chocolates
served with coffee at a presentation by the Architects’
Association of Santiago de Compostela.
Tradition reformulated
Cenlitrosmetrocadrado was created
in January 2007, although its
members had already worked in the
field of industrial design since their
time as students at the University
School of Design in Ferrol. The name
of the company arose as a result of
the studio’s vocation for identity.
In this case, rain was an element
present in the way of life in Galiza
that served as the inspiration for
the name of their personal project.
Their clients include the local councils
of Ames and Rois, the Architects’
Association of Santiago, the Regional
Ministry of Education or the Board
for Linguistic Normalisation. The
company works in three main areas:
graphic art, product design and
spatial design.
Project created for the Academic Excellence
Awards 2007: diploma holder, lectern and
background audio-visual display, to suggest
a concept of the future and how Galicia is
developing based on the educational talents
and energies of its students.
The organisation of the workshop Tradition reformulated, which took
place at the María Martínez Otero Foundation on the 10th, 11th and
12th of July, served as a meeting point between traditional Galician
crafts and industrial design. With the subtitle The value of craftsmanship
in the development of contemporary products, the master basket weaver
Carlos Fontales and the team from Cenlitrosmetrocadrado, under the
direction of Martín Azúa, worked on “the possibilities of crafts processes
and materials, and particularly basket weaving, in the areas of culture
of contemporary projects”. Twenty creators from the fields of design,
architecture and crafts had the opportunity to discover possibilities for
collaboration. “For thousands of years, the world of crafts was working
in a specific way, and over the last two hundred years, with the arrival of
industrialisation, it has undergone a sudden and radical change”, states
Manuel del Río, who adds: “Objects evolved naturally, together with the
way of living around them, the different trades. And suddenly there was
a profound shake-up. So profound that we have been going round in
circles for the last 200 years, and still haven’t found our place. Suddenly
it seems that crafts form a part of the past, and that with production lines
and new materials it’s something that has been totally surpassed, but this
just isn’t the case”.
For the members of Cenlitrosmetrocadrado, together with an understanding of traditional crafts, “which forms part of the general cultural
knowledge of all of us, and which therefore has to be studied, understood and preserved, in the same way as we preserve the cathedral of
Santiago”, a modern-day industrial designer has to “understand the
processes involved in the world of crafts, because when they are carrying
out product development, there are elements that can be transposed
from one to the other. For example, the way of understanding materials”.
Name of the workshop: Cenlitrosmetrocadrado
Members:Xabier Rilo Calvo
Manuel del Río Regos
Ricardo Tubío Pazos
Address:Rúa da Cruz de San Pedro, 11
15703 Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña)
e-mail: M [email protected]
Telephone: 981 576 771

Documentos relacionados