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Celebrating Willem's life and puppetry

vendredi, 22 juillet 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Eoghan O'Sullivan
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Willem and Anthony van DaalenWillem van Daalen, who graduated from La Grande Boissière in 1979, died tragically at the age of 22. While studying at Ecolint, in his spare time Willem had become a gifted puppeteer, through which he was able to overcome difficulties related to dyslexia.

His legacy lives on at the school today with an extra-curricular workshop inspired by his puppetry and the recent publication of a commemorative book.

During the academic year 2015-2016, the Centre des arts at LGB hosted a series of workshops inspired by Willem van Daalen's story and his puppets. Alumnus Robin Haefli (LGB '09) led the workshops, using many of Willem's actual puppets as the basis for individual modules. The puppets created by the participants were shown alongside some of Willem's works in an exhibition during June 2016.

Robin Haefli, in close cooperation with Willem's mother Leonie, also led the creation of a book that was launched during the June exhibition. The book, which can be ordered by mail (see below), is dedicated to the memory of Willem and that of Ursula Tappolet, the teacher and founder of The Swiss Mask marionette group who inspired Willem to take up the multi-discipline art form. Funds raised from the sale of the book will support the arts at Ecolint.

Exhibition of Willem van Daalen's puppets
Willem van Daalens puppets and marionettes were exhibited at the Centre des arts in June 2016, alongside some of the work done by participants in Robin Haefli's workshops.

Although Willem van Daalen's life ended tragically early, he brought great happiness to his family and friends in his 22 years on earth. His puppet performances delighted audiences of all ages, whether at family gatherings or school and church events, in Switzerland, the Netherlands and the USA. For his parents Albert and Leonie, and his brother Anthony (LGB '78), Willem's spirit lives on through the workshops and the book:

"It has meant a great deal to us knowing that Willem’s story and his inspiration to younger students continues to live on at the school where he spent 12 happy years of his short life."

Willem van Daalen's puppets
“These hand-puppets I created as a gift to my parents for their 25th wedding anniversary party in the Netherlands. I gave a performance for their guests called ‘One day in the van Daalen family’.”
Willem van Daalen

The puppets from left to right are: his grandmother, his father, his brother Anthony, Willem and his mother. The loose head of an old man in front was the last thing he created before his death.


> The book "Beyond Willem van Daalen's Marionettes" (paperback, 54 pages) can be ordered for CHF 30 plus postage and banking costs. Please send an email to

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