Driving around the North of Tenerife, I noticed this sign ‘ARTlandya Dolls Museum’. I got interested because I love dolls. I have this hobby of making handicraft stuff with dolls as my specialty. I have made all kinds of stuffed dolls, Manipuri dancers, Rajasthani brides and grooms, villagers, college girls, tea pickers, etc. I don’t have any dolls with me right now, because each time I made, it got adopted. Had I collected them, I would have more than 50 dolls with me but it was difficult to find place to store my artwork, I was only too happy to give them away to anyone who appreciated.
“Where is this dolls museum?” I asked my niece
“It is in Santa Barbara, a town famous for its’ wine”
“Oh! So close to Icod de los Vinos. I want to go” said I
We drove up the main street, off Calvario lane, through narrow streets, winding through farms and chalets, colorful buildings, a convex mirror at every turn guided us of the traffic at blind spots, we turned into a steep hill, to arrive at ARTlandya Dolls Museum.
The sweet fragrance of Bougainvillea and other flowering plants transported us to a different world. This was a beautiful farm of 11,000 square meters, separated on different terraces with breath-taking view of Mount Teide on one side and the sea view below. The weather was cool, with sun hidden behind the clouds, giving a blazing glance at regular intervals. The fresh air passed from the mountain towards Atlantic sea, stopped by to touch us, leaving behind the cool sensation under our skin.
We were warmly greeted by George Taupe, who has worked hard, brick by brick, building this museum to house the collection of more than 400 dolls and stuff toys of different shapes and sizes. George guided us as we walked up the concrete steps to enter three inter-connecting rooms that had many teddy bears and stuffed dolls.
The dolls had expressive eyes that told a story, one doll also had a tear in her eyes and it looked so real.
The teddy bears had a cheeky looks with playful poses. Apparently, the teddy bears are named after Teddy Roosevelt, former U.S. president. The story goes that on a hunting expedition, he saved a baby bear and this was much publicized, so much so, that a toy company made a baby bear in his honor. This became such a craze that they named after Teddy, hence teddy bear.
The teddy bears and dolls seemed to live in perfect harmony, each complementing the other.
We walked out to the sloping path passing through cascading fruit trees, trailing flowered plants, waterfall and fish pond to reach to the other side, that opened into two-adjoining rooms. There were many more adorable dolls made of porcelain, wood, wax and other materials from various studios all over the world.
I have no idea if they spoke to each other when they were on their own, but while I was there, I saw them standing/sitting in an inert positions, as if frozen in mid-sentence. More fragile one sat in the cabinets, while the bold ones stood out in groups.
In one small corner of the museum, there was a workshop, where there were limbs, glass eyes, doll’s hair scattered on the table, waiting to be assembled, the doll’s unfinished faces stared at me, their expressions real, some threatening. There were acrylic paints, brushes of various sizes, molds and even an oven for the curious tourist who would like to see the demonstration.
A small souvenir shop with a small cafeteria dominates one terrace. I met Ingrid Taupe, who is behind this creativity and has an artistic eye for new recruits; She started her collection twenty years ago fired by her art studies. George and Ingrid Taupe have a similar museum in Carincia in south of Austria too and they have gradually transferred their collection to their new destination at Artlandya.
Over the hot cup of coffee and cup cakes, we cemented our friendship, sharing our common interest of art and food.
If you like nature and are looking for peace and serenity, sitting on those wooden chairs and sipping a hot cup of coffee after a tour around dolls museum, is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.