A very special European Heritage Days
By the end of June, in agreement with the city hall of Javier, we decided to let the 2020’s European Heritage Days start, with this year’s slogan “Education and Heritage”. Everything was new and uncertain, the confinement during spring had just ended, so we were facing summer with as much excitement as uncertainty there was. Said this, the best option was to design a safe yet versatile plan for the Heritage Days, that could easily adapt to whatever may the future bring. We had to do it, we had to do it for culture, for life, for giving work opportunities, even if they were small and according to our resources, but we had to get moving. So, the first thing we did was to connect our volunteers with the town of Javier, with its heritage and with its people as well.
Get to know each other, undertake, create
Once the program was projected with guided visits to the castle, summer concerts previous to the saved dates, talks about sailing during the times of Saint Francisco Javier, and the main course, the outing of the paintings of the Dance of the Death at the Chapel of Saint Christ of the Castle of Javier, we presented it to the town at an open session in the City Hall.
Visiting over and over again
One of the things that the volunteer have done, especially María and David Rodríguez, was to learn a lot about the castle. They were present during many days of guided visits, they got plenty of reading material and then they rehearsed those visits on their own.
Another one of the studied spaces was of course, the Chapel of Saint Christ, or the Christ of the Smile. A small, non-visitable space. Why is that? Mainly for two reasons, the first one – at least chronologically- to preserve the paintings of the dance of the death, which are very close to the human touch. The second and nowadays most important reason, is that this space that invites to meditation and observation, makes it impossible to keep safety distances. It’s a heavy reason due to its sanitary importance
All the volunteers visited the chapel and learned about the iconography and peculiarities of these pictures in Javier
Creative Implication. Fundamental for Patrimonio para Jóvenes.
Besides learning, in our Association it is very important to create. We look for implication, creation, thinking for a better support and communication of heritage to new public spaces. We had a challenge in our hands: We have to preserve, but how can we spread something that’s closed to the public? There are many precedents and examples of this dilemma. Probably one of the best known in Spain is the case of the Altamira Caves.
With this idea on mind, with the help of the photographer María Cantero, and the architect Juan Roldán Marzo, we prepared an expositive design that would exteriorize the paintings of the Dance of the Death. It was fundamental that they could be seen closely, yet in open and safe spaces, and people could interact with them to have a better understanding of this iconography. Here are some pictures of the process.
This wasn’t an easy job for María Cantero. The space is very tight and dark too. It took many hours in the chapel and overall, a lot of time focused on the edition and adjustment of the images.The result was extraordinary and that helped Juan Roldán on the creation of individual panels from which the skeletons could be removed. Before going through all the paintings, he presented in Javier a prototype created with the help of his friends from “Rótulos Diper”
Until the day arrived, the music…
We thought it was a good idea to create previous events to the European Heritage Days. A jazz concert in the terrace of a bar in a summer evening was something convenient, nice and relaxing. So we did that.
We called our friends form Pamplona Jazz, who had already been with us on February in ‘”In love with a museum ” Back then, we couldn´t suspect the circumstances that would bring us together again.
Nevertheless, the important thing was the reencounter with Iñaki, Luisa and Ramón, and how great their music sounded, leaving astonished to all of those who hadn’t listened them before.
Here are some pictures of that August evening.
They day finally came
We had walked a long road for months. Bonds were tightened, Knowledge grew, we enjoyed it fully, and September 25th came and left as any other day, but leaving great memories behind.
That Friday we didn’t have the usual summer weather of past Heritage Days. It was cold, on Saturday it rained, but we felt the warmth of the Heritage, of the fruits of a thoughtful work done for a long time. That Friday 25th we greeted members of the Institute of Naval History and Culture, Eduardo Bernal and José Cánovas. They talked about “Sailing in the times of Saint Francisco Javier” and the circumnavigation of Magallanes-Elcano”.
We filled our allowed capacity. Everybody helped out by having a seat and keeping a distance, and the hotel staff meticulously took care of the distribution of the room for the people’s safety. The next day, people arrived to enjoy the guided visits that María and David had rehearsed so much
It was lovely to watch the support and affection they received from their firends. All of them came to Javier to discover the castle in a very special way. The public that day was heroic. Bad weather, rain and cold, and yet they were there
The groups of each guided visit, normally with a máximum of 20 people, were now reduced to 15. That meant we had to put extra work because the demand was bigger, but we delightfully complied.
I myself was in the porch of the building next door explaining the externalization of the Dance of the Death
One of the essentials of this exhibition was, as I said above, interaction. To get people to enjoy and understand, and therefore, to leave with the feeling of discovering a new face of Javier, appreciating its heritage a little more. There were very fun moments and many people took pictures. Here are some of our volunteers.
In the afternoon we had scheduled a visit to the “molinaz”, ( The molino) the ruins of an ancient mill next to Javier. A walk by a gorgeous river, but unfortunately they day didn’t help us. Our volunteers went through the route and verified that there was too much mud and tangled roots that could end in a dangerous accident, specially four our elderly visitors.
We opted to listen to the talk at the City Hall, and it was great to listen to Enrique Galdeano. In a pleasant yet insightful way, he made us realize about many dilemmas that come up during art restoration, about our experiences facing ruins and the meaning of ancient buildings through time.
At last but not least, with Jorge Feito , Technical Manager Mining at Geoalcali a present and on-line talk about “Nurturing the earth”, because landscape is part of our heritage as well, and knowing how to take care of the field that surrounds us is very important.
The only thing left to say is that finally, for another year, we’ve peaked. Thank you all for coming, Thanks to the town of Javier for trusting Patrimonio para Jóvenes on the management of this European Heritage Days.