Ultreia. - Jorge Manes Rubio



Ultreia. - Jorge Manes Rubio
Ultreia: ultra-, ult-. Lat: beyond, on the
degree. Eia or heia: expressing joy or sur
other side; excessive, to an extreme
prise [well!]; in exhortation, [come on].
Throughout modern history due to social, environmental,
and economic purposes factories have, on the whole been
set up in very specific locations. Increasingly mass
production and globalization have lead to a more drastic
geographical localization. My work focuses on exploring
alternative and more flexible processes of manufacturing,
in response to this immovable situation.
Ultreia is a project where El Camino, an ancient pilgrim
route in Spain, is transformed into a 700km production line.
The recent commercialization of the route is challenged
by on-site manufacture of alternative objects and
performances, through a portable and self-sustainable
factory that is able to relocate itself everyday, taking
advantage of the specific locations, industries and people
encountered on the route.
3. JET
Jorge Manes Rubio - Royal College of Art - London 2010
In Classic Greece, arts and crafts were not different
concepts; artist and artisan were the same person. At some
point during this period, works began to be signed and the
Athenians started promoting the concepts of beauty and
usefulness. Nonetheless, art is still public and it is born
in the individual. The richness of the piece comes not only
from its intrinsic beauty, but also from its functionality.
The combination of both concepts gives rise to pieces
filled with richness and experience. Later, the figures of
artist and artisan diverge and evolve through independent
paths. Today, after the Industrial Revolution, the role of the
artisan is in crisis. The initiative is lost and the concept
“creation” is replaced with “production”. The resulting
repetitiveness kills the artistic freedom; the piece ceases
to depend on an aesthetic life experience. The modern
world demands much higher levels of production and
commercialization that craftwork cannot supply anymore,
leaving art as the only memory and heir to this old tradition.
We live in a society where mass production, marketing
and consumption rates are so high that the implication of
workers in the manufacturing processes is disappearing,
leaving behind a mere trace of inconsequential tasks. It is
a purely mechanical production not just because machines
supplant the operators, but because it sometimes seems
like it is also produced for machines. We buy items that
have no higher value than their intrinsic cost. Therefore,
there is no relationship (beyond usefulness) between the
piece and the person who acquires it. In the absence of this
union, it is easier to throw it away rather than to move it, fix
it or clean it. The value scale is completely lost.
Amid this situation, the project Ultreia by Jorge Mañes,
fits without denying the current reality, but with a new
perspective where design allows, and so generates a new
figure: the post-industrial creative craftsman.
This project brings the history and experience beyond the
production and design, framing it into a historical context.
El Camino de Santiago, regardless of its origin and the
religious character, is a map of traditions, experience,
remembering and understanding.
Just like in the project “The Eiffel Factory”, Jorge Mañes
used towards his own advantage a context of tourism,
where vacationers, for various reasons, usually experience
more and more superficial and standards visits, this
fact gave him the chance to offer them an alternative: to
generate their own souvenir, a portable factory. It was here
where the long assembly line was moved to the experience,
stairs way up to the tower and the visit, were the different
production stages of the factory the Eiffel Tower became.
Ultreia’s soul is the same. In this case the assembly line,
the tower’s stairs, are El Camino itself. If each memory that
we keep from a journey is different, and the experience
is personal, then the material memories should not be
uniforme either. While it is true that, as mentioned before,
in the view of the image of populations filled with factories,
smoking chimneys and long assembling lines, creation and
dedication to each piece is in the hands of Art. Ultreia then,
can be considered a portable factory of unique pieces of
traditional and new materials, a mix of brand new industrial
techniques and ancient trades. A portable factory of both
Art and Design.
Andrea Garcia Santana
El Camino, The Way of St. James or St. James’ Way is the
pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in
Galicia, north-western Spain. The route was declared the
first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in
October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO’s World
Heritage Sites. Pilgrims have been walking this path since
time immemorial. The Legend says that the remains of the
apostle Saint James are buried in Santiago de Compostela,
but there has never been any evidence that certifies this
point. Prior to its existence as a Catholic pilgrimage, the route
also have had significance for the ancient pagan peoples
of the Iberian Peninsula, among them the Celts, and later
the Romans who conquered Spain. To this day many of the
pilgrims continue on from Santiago de Compostela to the
Atlantic coast of Galicia to finish their pilgrimage at Spain’s
westernmost point Cape Finisterre (Galician: Fisterra,
Finisterrae (literally the end of the world in Latin). Always
facing west, people from ancient civilizations walked as far
as they could to see the sun going down in the immensity
of the Atlantic Ocean. Then, the ritual of Rebirth consisted
on burning their clothes and taking a bath into the sea,
joining the sun into the amazing dusk. Today thousands of
Christian and non-Christian pilgrims each year set out from
their homes, or from popular starting points across Europe,
to reach Santiago and the “edge of the world”, walking the
very same ancient route. In 1970 just 68 people completed
the Camino. In 1995 there was 19,821, then in 2005 there
was 93,921. These are only the pilgrims that asked for and
received a Compostela, an official document that certifies
the achievement of completing the pilgrimage; therefore
many more completed different stages of the route. This
means that there could be 1.25 million pilgrims walking
the Camino in 2010. The cathedral authorities in Santiago
require that pilgrims must 1) carry the credencial or pilgrim
passport (which entitles you to a place in the Spanish
refugios) and produce it, stamped and dated at each stage
of the journey; 2) have walked or ridden on horseback the
last 100 km to Santiago, or cycled the last 200 km, and 3)
declare a spiritual or religious motivation, to qualify for the
Compostela, the traditional Latin certificate of pilgrimage.
There is a certificado, also in Latin, for those making the
journey for other reasons, or not meeting the Cathedral’s
criteria. There are several different reasons that could
explain the resurrection of this ancient tradition, and most
of the times it’s definitely nothing to do with the religious
motivations that pilgrims had in medieval times: adventure,
an alternative and more affordable holydays, or just a
different experience.
El Camino
The freedom of just walking at your own rhythm, stopping
whenever you want and making your own way is threatened
by the need to find a place to sleep during the night,
in public or private hostels and refuges that might be
available all over the route. Even if it’s true that the number
of this kind of accommodations, both private and public, is
growing every year, some pilgrims decide to wake up even
before 6am, in order to arrive as soon as possible to the
end of the daily stage, being able to book a place there. This
competitive situation makes many pilgrims forget about the
villages and the people they pass by without even noticing,
just focusing in reaching Santiago as soon as possible.
On the other hand, hundreds of travel guides will provide
pilgrims useful information about stages, main religious
monuments and cities, leaving no room for exploring and
improvising. A man who has been running a refuge for
more than 20 years confessed to me that “today it’s more
like a race, to see who walks faster or more kilometres in
the same day; before was different, people was interested
in the villages and the people who lived there, and that
was part of the pilgrimage. That was the exchange. Now
the great majority of them are just looking for a bed and
a warm dinner, leaving the next morning as soon as they
can. But somehow it’s understandable; if you’re pretty late,
Spanish government and the Autonomous Communities
involved as well are investing a big amount of time and
money in services and facilities for modern pilgrims,
allowing the definitive commercialization of the route. If
this touristic development and exploitation is necessary
or abominable is a debate that we are not interested in.
Everyone has their own reasons and motivations to walk
this path, and everyone has the freedom to choose the
way they will walk the way to Santiago. But what is not
suitable for discussion is the extraordinary cultural value
and historic legacy that is behind the Camino. In fact, there
are small villages with less than 50 inhabitants but more
than 1000 years history, and if there’s a reason why these
villages are still alive, that’s without any doubt the Camino.
As mentioned before, 2010 will be a very busy year for the
Camino. Whenever St James’s day (25th July) falls on a
Sunday, the cathedral declares a Holy or Jubilee Year, that
meaning pilgrims being granted a plenary indulgence. As
there will not be any other holy year till 2021, the Camino and
its main route, the Camino Frances, will be extremely busy
this year, becoming a melting pot where heritage, religion,
history, culture, adventure and consumption will merge
together as one, driven by an ant colony of pilgrims from all
over the world, walking towards Santiago de Compostela.
you might not find a place to sleep.” Hostels and vending
machines are necessary, but not fundamental. I do believe
there’s a lot more locals from the Camino’s villages can
offer to pilgrims. The interaction with local people in their
remote villages has been to me the most exciting thing about
this journey, meaning acquiring a knowledge that I could
have never found anywhere else. In this villages time goes
really slow, and sometimes it even seems that it has been
frozen there, as you can see astonishing adobe buildings,
trades you thought were already extinct, one-of-a-kind
craftsmanship techniques that have been transmitted over
many generations, and people who’s willing to share with
you as much time as you want to spend with them. Life in
these places is not easy: an old population that struggles
to keep on making a living mainly out of agriculture and
livestock farming, fighting against the rural exodus that
occurred in Spain back in the 50’s and 60’s. Spain, as any
other developed European country, is relying more and
more into mass produced goods to support its economy,
meaning that many old trades will be lost in the unstoppable
growth of globalization. No travel guide will tell you about
this people and their extraordinary hospitality, so I decided
to make my own journey in search of these little places that
in the end made my journey so amazingly big.
Jet is fossilized wood. Until recently time it was thought
that it came from a species of ‘Araucaria’, but recent and
rigorous paleobothanic studies made by the University of
Oviedo discovered that black Jet comes from an extinct
Jurassic specie of Protophinacea, similar to the present
Cypress. The best quality Jet, together with that of Whitby,
England, is the one from Asturias, Spain. Other Jet comes
from Teruel (Cretaceous), France, Germany and Turkey
(Cretaceous), United States, New Mexico, South Dakota,
Colorado, and Venezuela. With a deep black color, texture
and incomparable hardness, it is extracted in the area
called the Marina in the Asturian Jurassic Coast between
Gijón and Ribadesella, especially in Oles area, Villaviciosa.
More than one hundred years ago was exported to England,
as Whitby Jet deposits were exhausted. Between 1870 and
1890, over 800 tons of Spaniard Jet were shipped through
the port of El Musel, towards Whitby (England), according
to customs records. This situation was favored by the
presence of the British Consul in Villaviciosa at that time.
Today, Jet craftsmen have almost no material to work with.
The last Jet miner in Asturias for over thirty years, Tomas
Noval, passed away, and the scarcity of raw material
starts to endanger this millenary trade. An attempt for
the opening of a mine in Oles, had long been calling, but
blocked by bureaucratic and legal obstacles. This situation
have brought into the Spanish Peninsula imported Jet
from East Europe and other parts of the world, with the
consequent loss of quality and prestige of those who deny
working with materials that are not purely original Asturian
Jet. Nowadays, the first Jet falsifications start to arise in
Jewelry shops and street stalls as well. Today, the only
chance to obtain this precious material is to rummage
through the dumpsite of the old mine in Oles, were a
discarded piece decades ago might become a true treasure
today, or being lucky enough to find a detached piece from
the cliffs close to the beach. Even though it’s known that
there’s more Jet inside the old mine, the risks and costs
of its extraction demand a big investment to start digging
it. In a visit to the Geologic Museum of the University of
Oviedo, his curator, Luis Miguel Rodriguez Terente, very
kindly explain us why Asturias is a unique Geological place
in the world, and how several factors combined together
along millions of years to transform wood into the highest
possible quality Jet. This extraordinary material, more than
65 millions years old, was chosen to design a key piece in
this project, called E.S.B.
reported to me by Eliseo Nicolas Alonso, the president of
Azebache, the association for the development of black Jet
tradition in Asturias. The Azebache Association was born
in Asturias in 1999 in order to preserve, promote and show
the history of the Asturian black Jet. A group of craftsmen,
researchers and people who care about preserving this
singular and important cultural patrimony are part of this
association. A complete historical and cultural patrimony
that the Azebache Association wants to preserve and show
to the rest of the world, and at the same time trying to
look for solutions to the current shortage of raw material,
the fight against the imitations and falsifications and the
creation of a quality brand for the Black Jet elaborated in
the Principado de Asturias with Asturian black Jet.
Eliseo has a special quality in his hands. Not only the
capacity to innovate, to mix materials, to design and create,
but the union of all of those characteristics which make
every single work into a masterpiece. Working with Jet since
very young, he keeps on exploring new and alternative ways
of expression through carved Jet, but last year he declined
to keep on doing it, as quality raw material was impossible
to obtain. His strong bonds with this trade and his land,
Asturias, made impossible for him to even consider the
possibility to work with imported similar materials, most
Ages ago, Asturian jet was considered the talisman of the
‘Camino de Santiago’, the pilgrim’s amulet. Actually, the
oldest jet piece of jewelry was found in Asturias, Spain,
dating from 17,000 BC. Its stunning black shine was believed
to bounce back all the bad spirits and dangers that pilgrims
would find during their journeys, used as some sort of
spiritual protection. It was worked in the shape of shells
and images, a symbol of the Santiago’s pilgrimages along
its history; the amulets most used by all the social classes
in Spain were made of black jet and taken to the New World,
being surprisingly well accepted by the diverse cultures of
the American continent. And nowadays, black Jet follows
its process of transformation, like long ago, but this time
in the hands of the craftsmen which make with it pieces
of singular beauty. Many pilgrims who reach to Santiago
these days decide to acquire one of these jewels as a prize
or memento of his journey. Street stalls and specialized
jewelry shops around Santiago’s Cathedral monopolize this
market, and as mentioned before, replicas and fake pieces
have started to bloom, in order to keep alive a market that
unfortunately is not truly sustainable anymore. Pilgrims are
almost forced to buy ‘anything’ believing that an original
handmade piece of black Jet is going home with them, when
the truth might be slightly different. This situation was
of it imported soft lignite, not even black Jet. Eliseo very
kindly showed me to the art of Jet carving, and introduced
me to some more Jet craftsmen, as Avelino, a 92 years old
man who’s probably the last Jet artisan who still only works
with his own self-made rudimentary tools. We were lucky as
well to meet Valentín Monte Carreño, in his home in Gijon.
Valentin has written several books about the subject, and
as a researcher and collector as well, his knowledge gave
us a very deep view about the extraordinary importance
of black Jet all over the world and through many different
civilizations. Unfortunately, he also shared his worries about
its imminent disappearance; the shortage of raw materials,
the lack of real-carvers and real ‘azabacheros’ and the
many imitations and forgeries that have arisen around are
threatening this ancient craft type. In his own words, ‘Jet
future is as black as itself’.Eliseo, in a continuous effort to
save this trade, has many different projects and ideas, as
creating the very first Jet school, where he plans to teach
young local people how to work this precious material,
keeping this millenary tradition alive. He’s as well aiming to
create a Protected Designation of Origin for Asturian Jet, in
order to make the Spanish institutions involved understand
the importance of keeping alive such an important piece of
our culture.
At the time of writing these lines, almost a miracle
happened, as the owner of an old cottage in Asturias
found a big amount of Asturian Jet in its basement. The
material, probable left there decades ago by the owner of
this domain, has given a small bit of hope to the craftsmen
of the area, till the old mine hopefully reopens again. This
amazing discovery gave Eliseo and me the possibility to
work together into a new piece of Jet, a key element that
gathers together all the information regarding this project
and the journey itself. The Emotional Serial Bus (E.S.B.)
is a raw piece of Jet with a micro digital memory inlaid.
This memory contains all the research, pictures, maps,
directions, and documentation collected before and during
my journey. Confronting the ephemeral nature and lightness
of our ever changing digital age with the geological memory
of this stunning material, the raw piece is smoothly carved
into geometrical polygons, symbolizing the encounter
between these two different memories, creating a unique
memento of this amazing journey.
On the Camino de Santiago from Somport to Puente la Reina,
near the point at which the two principal pilgrim routes in
Spain converge, stands the enigmatic Romanesque chapel
of Santa María de Eunate, or, St. Mary´s of the Hundred
Doors (Eunate means “one hundred doors” in the Basque
language), one of loveliest and most emblematic chapels
on the Pilgrim´s Way. The chapel was built in the final years
of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th following
an unusual octagonal floor plan crowned by a pentagonal
apse. Surrounding the chapel is a gallery comprised of
numerous half-point arches that form a kind of external
cloister. Its construction coincides with the moment when
the Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago de Compostela peaked.
Lots of theories have been put forth as to the significance
and origin of this little chapel and its unusual form. Those
seeking an esoteric explanation associate its origins
and structure with the Templar knights and the secret
knowledge they are supposed to have possessed. Others
of a more practical and academic bent point out that
because the octagonal floor plan is similar to that of the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, it is more likely
that Eunate´s real purpose was to serve as a funerary
chapel, a service for those pilgrims that died on the way
to Santiago. Such chapels exist in other places in France,
and certainly the discovery of pilgrim’s remains in the
chapel’s vicinity and the presence of numerous documents
in the cathedral archives of Pamplona attesting to nearby
tombs lend this theory some credence; but as well some
other theories have been proposed, as Eunate is believed
to be a main telluric sanctuary for those seeking esoteric
powers. Its placement is aligned with some other main
temples in the area, strategically built in a main telluric
junction, in the middle of a wheat field. Even today, you
can see people carrying out an ancient ritual in Eunate.
The ritual is as follows:
before entering the church, walk
around it three times counterclockwise along the outer
grassy path and then clockwise three times along the
inner stone paved path. Do this barefoot and proceed to
the center of the octagonal church where you proclaim
your acknowledgement of being there, in this holy place,
walking along this special path where millions of others
have walked through the centuries. Ultreia!
This ancient ritual served as a main inspiration to create an
alternative souvenir or memento production from the visit
of this fascinating temple. A 3D model of the church was
made and then rapid prototyped in London. Afterwards, a
silicone mould from this model was sent via postal service
to the person who custodies Eunate, who took care of it till I
arrived to this location. Once there, the mould was filled with
Bioresin and placed inside my rotational moulding device.
Afterwards, I used the circular path around the church and
reinterpreted the ancient ritual as a track to create unique
on-site manufactured replicas, using as well materials
gathered from Eunate surroundings, such as flowers and
wheat spikes. The very first replica remains there, in the
church, as a gift and memento from this experience.
The Copa del Rey (The King’s Cup) is an annual football
cup competition for Spanish football teams. Its full name
is Campeonato de España - Copa de Su Majestad El Rey
Don Juan Carlos I (Championship of Spain – His Majesty
King Juan Carlos I’s Cup), referring to the current King of
Spain, Juan Carlos I of Spain. The competition was founded
in 1902. FC Barcelona has won the cup on the most
occasions, with 25 wins. The competition was first played
in 1902 after Carlos Padrós, later president of Madrid FC,
suggested a professional football competition to celebrate
the coronation of Alfonso XIII, former king of Spain. Three
other teams joined Real Madrid CF for the first competition:
FC Barcelona, RCD Espanyol, and Athletic Bilbao. The
competition featured the first recorded game between FC
Barcelona and Real Madrid CF, with the latter emerging
2-3 winners. Real Madrid CF eventually defeated Athletic
Bilbao in the final. On Wednesday, 19 May 2010, Atletico
de Madrid and Sevilla CF played the Final of the Copa del
Rey in the Nou Camp, Barcelona. The final result was 0-2.
As my team since I was a kid, Atletico de Madrid, lost this
game, I decided to rematch the final during my journey. For
such an occasion, a mould of the Copa del Rey trophy was
produced, in order to be able to replicate it as many times
as I wanted. I thought a football match would be a good
way to interact with locals as well. On the 26th May, one
week after the official game took place, I arrived to Estella.
Estella is a wonderful village in Navarra, very well know for
its outstanding food and wines. It happened that the day I
arrived it was the Patron Saint’s Day, and the streets were
crowed full of kids who didn’t have to go to school that day.
A spontaneous football match was going on in the major
square, and I thought it was just what I was looking for my
Copa del Rey rematch. ‘I have only one shot at it’ I thought
to myself…As soon as I entered in the square, my bike
started to call people’s attention. Locals are used to see
curious pilgrims hanging around the streets of Estella, but
this was maybe a little bit too much. I approached one of
the goalkeepers, and asked him if they were going to play
for a little bit longer. The kid didn’t pay much attention, and
without even looking at me replied that they would stay as
late as they want to cause the day after there wasn’t school
either. At that point, I decided to play an improvised role to
get the kid’s attention: ‘you know what? I’m coming from
London with this machine, to make the Camino de Santiago.
During my journey I organize football tournaments, and
create the trophies for them with this machine, and I would
like to play the Copa del Rey final here in Estella, right
There’s a man who makes football trophies out of the sun!’
At the same time the players were giving its best to get
one of the trophies, which became something much more
than just a small piece of plastic; it allowed creating a
fantastic scenario, and an event that will be remembered
by all the kids and myself as a wonderful evening and so
much fun. When the match ended, we appropriated of the
empty music stage to organize the trophy award ceremony,
which was such a great end of the competition. Even the
sudden rain at the end of it didn’t stop kids to cheer up the
event, with the winners showing proudly their well-earned
trophies. When I left the place, way past midnight, they
kept on running behind my bike shouting ‘Jorge please
come next year to Estella, but with the South Africa World
Cup Trophy!’ Priceless.
From that moment, I got all the kids attention, they started
to analyze very carefully my bike and all its components,
and what was an improvised attempt to produce some
trophies, became one of the best experiences of the whole
project. We decided to play a 1 hour game, and during the
match, I would be cycling around the improvised football
field in the square, producing several trophies for the best
goalkeeper, top scorer, best defender, and best player.
At the same time, the kids who were not playing kept
on running around the square, beside my bike, talking
to the video camera and commentating the best plays.
Meanwhile, the local brass band was playing characteristic
music from the area in a small stage built for the occasion
of the big day in Estella, making the whole football match a
bizarre and unique event. I still remember some of the kids
questions and comments while I was carrying the trophies
production, like ‘did you come from England with that bike
underwater?’, ‘what do you exactly do for living?’, ‘want to
come tomorrow to play football with us?’ (which by the way
I did) or ‘why did you choose Estella to organize the Copa
del Rey Final?’. As long as it was getting late, and some kids
had to go home, they run to meet their parents who were
in bars and terraces near by the square, telling them ‘dad
please, can I stay a little bit longer?
Before arriving to the capital city of La Rioja, Logroño,
I stopped in Varea, a closer neighbourhood in the suburbs.
There, the people from Campomiel were waiting for me.
Campomiel is a familiar business run by Alvaro Garrido.
Alvaro learned his trade from his father’s beekeeping
business, and inherited his bees. Now has 1,500 hives,
but his form of exploitation is fully organic, so that instead
of degrading the environment he’s protecting it. Besides
rosemary, thyme, heather and millefiori honey, he also
produces pure pollen and royal jelly, “the richest food there
is.” His commitment and passion for his job was clear since
the very beginning. Even if producing honey with organic
and ecologic methods is far more expensive and difficult
than the standard production methods, he’s determined
to keep on taking care of his bees with the same love and
dedication his family did in the past decades. Honey begins
as a tiny droplet of nectar (having only a very small sugar
content) in a single flower. The offering of this sweet treat
is nature’s way of tricking the bee into visiting the flower
as it carries the pollen grains of previously visited flowers,
thus pollinating the flower. A honey bee may visit as many
as 1500 flowers before her honey sac (completely separate
from her digestive stomach) is full.
At this point, the weight of the nectar is a significant part
of the bee’s own weight. The worker bee laboriously makes
her way back to the hive where she deliveries her precious
cargo to younger hive bees who have not yet graduated to
field duty. Once inside the hive, the nectar is processed
with enzymes and then deposited into hexagonal beeswax
cells awaiting its final conversion into thick, golden viscous
honey. This is accomplished by the “air conditioning”
system the bees maintain within the hive. By the fanning
of the wings of many thousands of bees, the nectar with an
original water content of 80% is reduced to around 17%.
Not all nectar is converted into honey. Some is consumed
by the bees as food and some is converted into beeswax.
Beekeepers provide a “super” (box with frames) on top
of the hive for the bees to store their surplus honey. The
bees typically store more honey than they need to survive
the coming winter. At harvest time, full supers of honey
are brought into the “honey house” for processing. As
the frames are removed from the supers, they must be
“uncapped”. This is accomplished using a hot, sharp knife
that slices off the thin layers of cappings. The cappings
drop into a waiting receptacle where the honey inevitabally
adhering to them is drained off.
The uncapped frames are later taken to the extractor. This
machine is essentially a centrifuge that gently coaxes
the honey out of the cells as it rotates. The empty frames
are returned to the supers and ultimately returned to the
bees. By giving the bees empty combs, they do not have
to consume honey to build new combs thus increasing the
efficiency of honey production. So we decided to try my
machine to centrifuge a frame full of honey, cycling from
the field where the bees work, to the honey house. The
drum of my machine was carefully covered with a plastic
film, so the honey could be easily extracted… As the speed
of this centrifuge moment can’t be too fast, the production
became an unhurried and pleasant ride near by the bank
of the Ebro, Spain’s most voluminous river, enjoying its
splendid flora and orchards.
From the time of the Bronze Age we can find references to
pottery in the village of Navarrete. Since prehistoric times,
the inhabitants of the contour have been teachers of the
craft of pottery, using a very rich clay from the local area.
But in the last century, the pottery production has acquired
an industrial tone, and just a very few people still maintain
the tradition of craftsmanship. The most outstanding
example is Antonio Naharro. Unlike other workshops,
Naharro currently retains a totally manual potter’s wheel
based work, without introducing any kind of mechanization
or industrialization. Its most characteristic feature in the
traditional pottery is the recovery of ancient pieces from
La Rioja, Navarra and the Basque Country. In these years
of activity in the town of Navarrete, and committed to the
duties of his trade, Antonio Naharro tells us that not a long
time ago, all work was done in the same workshop, taking
the clay, transported in carts, grinding and crushing the clay
in a deep pool, kneading it and taking it straight away to the
directly to the potter’s wheel. If I could emphasize something
about Antonio, is that he always has been interested in
researching, learning and looking ahead to the future: ‘The
only way to succeed in this profession, so flexible, in which
we have gone from creating a practical object to a piece
of decoration, is this flexibility and adaptation to develop
different concepts and objects that maybe people think
no longer can play an important role in their lives.’ After
visiting Naharro’s workshop, we came up with the idea of
using the local clay and glazing techniques to design and
create basic objects, as wine and water jars and glasses,
that later could be used by pilgrims in Guendulain Castle.
The very same pilgrims will be later invited to join Naharro’s
workshop for a short induction into the potter’s wheel, this
way getting closer to the millenary tradition of the town of
Navarrete. The objective is to provide a closer interaction
between locals and visitors, and at the same time, creating
a context for the manufacture of single and unique ceramic
pieces, that would not make sense out of Guendulain’s
performance. Another really nice story from Navarrete
happened when I was asking for some directions in the
village. As the day was clear and warm, two old ladies were
enjoying the sun in a bench on the street. I asked them the
directions to get to Naharro’s workshop, and they kindly
told me it was just in the end of the street. The thing is that
I was very curious about how they were avoiding the sun
going directly into their faces, using some sort of magazine
as a visor, so I asked them if I could take a picture of them,
cause they looked really beautiful as they were posing in
such an original way. My curiosity wasn’t satisfied yet,
so I asked them about their trick to avoid the sun in their
faces. “Oh, it’s very simple. We use the local supermarket
brochure; cause the paper is super light so we can hold it
very easily. And you can check for the best discounts of the
week as well!” Such a nice, simple and smart reasoning
led me to go to the very same supermarket and pick up
some brochures, even though I didn’t know yet what was
am I going to do with them. The result came some days
later, when I decided I needed something to get though
the unbearable heat in Spain. Finally I created a baseball
cap out of the supermarket brochures, mixing the amazing
encounter with these wise ladies in Navarrete, and one
of my favorites accessories, a baseball cap. You can still
check the best deals on it!
The Apollo XI astronauts used this chart to check the
primary guidance navigation system in the lunar module
and confirm their position in lunar orbit. By using the star
positions and their two-digit numbers located on the chart
next to each star, the astronauts were able to navigate
during both the translunar coast and while in lunar orbit.
A navigation telescope was used to fix a star position and
then the corresponding star numbers were entered into
the Apollo Guidance Computer. This system allowed the
astronauts to check with the Manned Spaceflight Network
to confirm their position. The pilgrims follow the Sun in
the day, from East to West and follow the Milky Way (Via
Lactea) in the night. They see the sunrise in the mornings
and follow the Sun towards the West. Recent developments
in Earth mysteries have focused on the ritual significance
of paths, for instance as corpse ways or spirit paths.
But there is another way in which roads were seen less
as utilitarian routes but rather as deeply embedded in
cosmological mythology. In Germany it is known as Jacob’s
Way, presumably linked in some way with the Biblical vision
of a ladder ascending to heaven. Although the original
source of the information is unclear, it is said that in
medieval England the Milky Way was known as the Way of St
James. This is, of course, the translation of ‘Santiago’, the
medieval pilgrimage route to Compostela and the shrine of
St James. The fact is that, as a capital city born and raised
individual, I’ve had very few opportunities to look at the sky
at night and see such a beautiful spectacle as I saw in my
journey. As I wanted to share this experience, and inspired
by the Apollo XI analog guidance system, I posted several
star charts along the Camino de Santiago, so people could
follow the right direction during the night, or simply be
able to read the sky and its constellations. The star chart
was carefully designed to suit just the month of May, the
month where my journey took place. By the end of my trip,
I decided to create an object that could contain the sky I
saw during my journey inside the gallery space, an object
that would only have sense in this exhibition. The idea of
possessing the whole sky in my hand was the starting
point, so I engraved all the constellations in a wooden box,
lighting from inside just the stars that form the Milky Way,
the most ancient map for the Camino de Santiago. The box
in being lighted with the leftover of the batteries I used in
my trip to collect energy out of the sun, so when this energy
will be exhausted, the box won’t light any more.
Guendulain is associated with a name, the Earl of
Guendulain, and two surnames, Ayanz and Mencos. But
today, despite his past as a distinguished place of Lordship,
Guendulain presents a sad state of decay and abandonment.
An abandonment that history may always remember, as
an unresolved account with the historic memory of this
place. Guendulain is located in the Camino de Santiago. In
fact it was one of the few populations in the Camino with
its own hospital, dedicated only to take care of pilgrims. It
is located south of San Babil Hill (556 m). On the current
and desecrated cemetery existed a chapel dedicated to St.
Babil and there could have already existed some townships
back in the Iron Age. But the first mention to Guendulain is
in the Eleventh Century, according to the National Historical
Archive. Even though today the Camino passes near by,
most of the pilgrims don’t even realize about the existence
of this stunning and ruined piece of history, hidden behind
the bushes. Today, its ruined walls and structure have been
covered by colorful graffities, a testimony of the lately use
by young locals who got appropriated the place for their own
fun and entertainment, making of it a weird hybrid between
historic monument and contemporary urban environment.
Even though, the magical atmosphere of the place remains
untouchable, as if it just refused to disappear.
Today, the name of Guendulain is appearing in many local
newspapers, but sadly not because of a possible restoration.
The landlords of this domain, descendants of the Earl of
Guendulain, managed to sell a big piece of this land to the
Government of Navarra, for a massive and controversial real
state operation. Thousands of new households will be built
in the middle of nowhere, and we might be facing the last
days of this historic place; a key point in the old Camino de
Santiago, that will be reduced to a sad caricature of itself.
Taking all this facts in consideration, I decided to recover,
at least for one day, the original function of Guendulain.
I waited patiently inside the castle, till I saw a group of
pilgrims coming from the distance, so I decided to go and
meet them in the lake next to the castle. They were four men
from the north of Italy that were walking towards Santiago,
one of them with a custom made trolley that was attached
to his hips. So we started talking each other in Italian, as I
lived there for 2 years. I showed them my trolley and all its
components, and we took some pictures together. When it
looked like they were about to leave, I kindly invited them
to come with me to my castle for lunch, later explaining
them the history of this dominion, and the sad future that
is waiting for it.
Even if at the beginning they were quite shocked, I finally
convinced them telling them a really nice Rioja Wine was
awaiting us in the castle. Once we arrived we all had a good
time, enjoying local food and wine I specially brought for
such an occasion, all served in a unique set of ceramic
produced in a nearby village, Navarrete. This way, we not
just had the chance to find about this hidden place and
its story, but taking a deserved break before facing the
ascension to the Monte del Perdon, and learning about
the traditions and habits of the upcoming villages. It was
great to meet them all, and get their support for the rest
of the journey. It makes me think that this situation would
never have sense in any other context, but in the Camino
everything is possible…
Sarracin Castle has been fundamental for the control
of Galicia for its strategic location. The present castle
dates from the Ninth Century, but there’s evidence of
the existence of a previous castle, razed in the year 714
by Muslim troops. Therefore, the current reconstruction
of the castle could have not started until the expulsion
of Muslims from Galicia and Leon, which would place its
construction in the late ninth century. The Fertile valley
villa of Valcarce had its origin in the heat of average age
surely, being born like commercial center of the Camino
de Santiago route. In 1213 the territories of Valcarce were
donated to the cathedral of Santiago and from there, until
century XIV it is lacked the news. The one of Sarracin, along
with the castles of Corullon, Cornatel, Balboa, Villafranca
or Ponferrada, constitutes conjuto of bercianos castles,
guards of the Camino de Santiago. Sarracin Castle, was
never conquered. Situated on a steep hill, the slopes of
Monte de la Vilela, its access is a complicated ascension
trough the deepest Bercian forests. Its history is linked
to the Knights of Templars as well, protecting pilgrims in
the Camino de Santiago route. When I went past through
Vega de Valcarce, I decided to try the ascension of Sarracin
Castle, even though I knew it would be a very complicated
deed to culminate. After trying to cycle for a couple of
limits, I realized I couldn’t be more right. After 1 hour of
pushing uphill my factory, and just about 100 meters away
from the ruins of the castle, had to give up and continue
on foot. I spent some time exploring around, surprised
by the stunning flora around the castle, and by so many
holes that have been dug inside of it, probably looking for
some archaeological valuable piece. On top of the hill, I
understood the importance of the location as a military
fortress. A whole 360 degrees view of the valley and its
crossings made this place a key point in the defense of the
region. Before leaving the place, I had the feeling I needed
to take with me something from this castle, I felt privileged
about being there at that very moment. The weird feeling
of having conquered the ever unconquered castle I guess…
so I decided to use the downhill back to the village to cast
some of my Bioresin Lamps, together with several plants
that I picked up around the area, as the location of this
castle didn’t allow me to produce them onsite.
The downhill became way harder than I thought it would
be, and in the middle of it one of the joints from my factory
cracked, putting me in a very difficult position, even more
it was Sunday afternoon and the possibilities of repairing
it were close to zero. But that’s where you understand
how special and kind people in these villages are… Vega
de Valcarce has no more than 700 inhabitants, but after
asking outside the bar, I was given a name an a direction:
‘The local welder in here is Luis, wooden house, after the
bridge’. Believe it or not, after knocking in Luis’s door and
telling him my story, he agreed to take a look to the part of
the trolley that was damaged. 30 minutes later my trolley
was already welded again, and without even asking for
any payback that of course I offered, I was ready to hit the
road again… And that’s when you realize how special is the
people you find along this journey, and how lucky I was to
be part of it.
To this day, on arrival at the cathedral of Santiago de
Compostela, pilgrims present their Pilgrim Passports,
duly stamped at each of their halts along the way, at the
Cathedral’s Pilgrim Office, and apply for the Compostela
, the traditional certificate in Latin confirming their
completion of the pilgrimage. But it is believed that long
time ago, this certificate was in fact a Scallop Shell, later
becoming the ever first religious commercial object. Found
in abundance along Galician beaches, the scallop shell has
become closely intertwined with the Camino de Santiago.
The shell is carved into the walls and fittings of this parish
and adorns the church’s stationary. Practical observers
argue that the shell was adopted merely as a device for
sipping water from streams along the way. If this is so,
it quickly took on greater meaning even to the earliest
pilgrims. The scallop design symbolizes the many European
starting points from which medieval pilgrims began their
journey, all drawn to a single point at the base of the shell,
Santiago de Compostela. Today in Spain cement scallop
shell markers along the Camino reassure participants
that they have not taken a wrong turn and local residents
decorate their gardens and houses with shells in solidarity
with the pilgrims. A recent pilgrim recalled that the shells
“came in various forms: ceramic shells fitted onto road
markers, government-issue traffic signs marked with an
abstract shell, shining brass shells imbedded in sidewalks.
Some were broken, some had been stolen as souvenirs
leaving only a trace of their presence, some were beautiful,
some so simply sketched as to provide the mere suggestion
of a shell. In all their variations, they marked the route for
hundreds of miles. They reminded all of us pilgrims that in
the midst of a world both beautiful and broken there are
signs to help lead us forward, sometimes right under our
feet.” The story of the Scallop Shell as a souvenir has an
important turning point back in the 13th century: At that
time, the Scallop Shell was the proof of accomplishing the
pilgrimage to Santiago, so some sly vendors started selling
and replicating the shells along the route. In 1262, Pope
Clement IV went as far as to prohibit by excommunication
the purchase of any scallop shell manufactured outside
the city of Santiago. Gregory X in 1272 reiterated the same
question, so Santiago acquired the exclusive right to sell
this objects, in exchange of a percentage for the Pope
himself. The situation when I reached Santiago was pretty
peculiar though. The cleaning services company was on
strike for 12days in the end of May. I have to say that when
I arrived, the strike was already called off, even though you
could still find some traces of it.
So I decided to cycle around Santiago and picking up the
local newspapers I was finding in the streets. Another
fact I was quite surprised about is that the scallop shell,
the symbol and icon of the Camino de Santiago, is used
in restaurants and bars as a plate to serve its sea fruit,
which is some sort of massive cockle, but much more tasty,
served together with an amazing sauce. The preparation is
quite simple though. They place everything together inside
the oven, and the same scallop shell keeps the whole
meal warm for a long time, same as clay dishes. So, after
enjoying such an exotic meal, I kept the scallop shell to
replicate them in recycled paper with my machine and the
local newspapers I had collected before. Remembering the
story about the scallop shell and its strong connection with
Santiago, I bought a map and started cycling exactly around
the city’s perimeter, trying to achieve the most authentic
and original Scallop Shell ever produced.
Thanks to everyone who made Ultreia possible:
To the Confraternity of Saint James in London, for sharing
his astonishing archive for my research. To Martin, for not
being scared of helping me building the weirdest artifact
ever (till the next one arrives…) To Valentin Monte Carreño
and Luis Miguel Rodriguez Terente, for all their amazing
stories about black jet. To Eliseo Nicolas Alonso, for his
dedication to the project, and for opening his house to me
without any reservation. Your work was simply priceless.
To the Italian pilgrims who joined me at lunch in ‘my’ castle
in Guendulain. Yes, the wine was a Rioja. To Antonio Naharro
and his family, for keeping alive such a wonderful trade.
To all the kids from Estella, for rediscovering me the
importance of my work. To Carlos Cano, for its advise and
unselfish help in Galicia. And for the delicious dinner! To
Alvaro, Marian, and all the people from Campomiel, for
letting me get so close to bees without being stung. To Milla,
for being just the way she is. I would like to give special
thanks to all the staff and friends from Royal College of Art,
specially my tutors Onkar Kular and Sebastian Noel, for
their guidance and support through these unforgettable
two years. Thanks to Andrea Garcia Santana, for her
fascinating words and extreme professionalism. Thanks to
my Italian famiglia Salvo, Gianlu and Nico, for their support,
help with this book, and their amazing pasta al dente.
Thanks to all my Spanish friends in London, for making me
feel just like home, and my Spanish friends in Madrid, for
making me miss it every single day. Thanks to all the people
from Hune, especially to Joaquina and Jon, for giving me
the courage and strength I needed to follow my own path.
Thanks to all those who unfortunately have no space in
these lines, but do have a space in my life.
And last but not least, thanks to all my family, especially
my parents, for teaching me what love is.
SEETHISWAY - Jorge Mañes Rubio
+34 670329400 / +44 (0)7531637630
www.seethisway.com - [email protected]
Graphic Design:
Nicola Bazzini - www.nicolabazzini.com
Gianluca Tesauro - www.gianlucatesauro.com

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