© Rita Draper Frazão

Inner Tour is a blog about People, Arts and Traveling by Rita Draper Frazão.
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domingo, 22 de junho de 2014

Lamparina Art Residency

Last week I took part of Lamparina Art Residency, in Terena,  in the county of Alandroal
in Alentejo, Portugal.

Lamparina Project started from the will of two persons, Ana João Almeida and Sérgio Carronha, both artists who wanted to explore themselves and stimulate on others the relations between Art, Nature, Alentejo's Heritage and Terena's population.

From February to June, 16 artists (João Rolaça, Francisco Costa, Catherine Henke, Rita Garcia, Manuela Domingues, Nuno Almeida, João Mouro, Maja Escher, Tiago Raimundo, Joana Reais, Mariana Veloso, Sérgio Fernandes, Fernando Roussado, myself, Jorge André Catarino and Pedro Coelho) were invited to participate in the pilot experiment of this project. 

 Several different arts where represented: Installation, Engraving, Sound, Photography, Sculpture, Jewelry, Performance, Video, Painting and Drawing.

Far from the city fuss, Alentejo is one of the most beautiful provinces of Portugal, and the small village of Terena has quite a lot to offer. 

Once occupied by Romans and also by Moors, the region is full of history, beautiful monuments and rich landscapes. 

From great local products like Olive Oil, Honey, Wine, and Bread (just to name a few) this small village is just next to Lucefecit Dam. Lucefecit means Light was made in Latin. The expression fecit in Latin, was many times used to sign a piece of art. Like made by artist "x" which can suggest an artistic connection to the place too: the water as a source of creativity and life.

The amount of the natural resources here is a real luxury. Having Marble to Schist quarries in the region, its presence is so whopping, one might stumble in the marble floor pavement or the Schist that is used for coating, masonry and construction works everywhere.
Here below is a picture I took in one of the Schist quarries, just next to the Dam.

Ana and Sérgio use natural pigments of the region to do engobes (color) for ceramics. Separated from the residency, Lamparina has a space in the center of Terena where they do ceramic workshops for kids. I was quite impressed by the work they are doing there, sensitizing kids for visual matters, their own village heritage and the richness of the natural materials available. Take a look here to see what I'm talking about.

One just can not believe that such a beautiful space as the Terena Castle (see pictures and its full history here) has been left without cultural activities or proper care. I know some refurbishment works were done in the 20th century, but is was not yet enough to erase almost 200 years of abandon. This place deserved more attention. 

From 1960 to 2011 the population in Alandroal County decreased about 52% from 12.089 to 5.843 inhabitants. People aged, and others migrated to the big cities and an isolation issue came up, so I thought about doing something based on Communication and Art that could tell others about this fantastic site, include persons from Terena in this artistic project, and tell people from the world this is a place worth to visit. That was how the idea of making a series of handmade painted postcards came up. Will share with you some of them here.

While walking in Terena, I noticed how beautiful where the embroideries in the windows. I saw mostly animal and flower figures represented. On this postcard, I chose to paint both: the view of the Terena castle from the embroidered door-window of Lamparina Residency.  

One of the persons I drew was Idália Dias, a 16 year old girl (painted below) that lives just right in front of the amazing fortified Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Boa Nova (Our lady of the Good New). It is her family that keeps this monument key whenever there are visitors. What a privilege and responsibility :)

Idália was nice enough to open us the door out of the visiting schedule, and she not only received us with great hospitality as she told us a lot of stories from the village, from her life and from the Sanctuary. She was cheerful, expeditious and, on her own way, special, as she made a closed Sanctuary a living thing.
 I really liked her hairdo, it made me remember a Gypsy Princess thing.
I made sure the portrait was made inside the church, since the inside is full of colors (Peek here).

This is no regular monument, it is a fortified church, from the 14th century, with a Greek Cross plan, that used to receive soldiers and was and is used for the worship of Nossa Senhora da Boa Nova.
The origin of the invocation of the Nossa Senhora da Boa Nova appears to be linked to the legend of Maria of Portugal (Queen of Castile), the daughter of King D. Afonso IV of Portugal who went to the Portuguese court to ask her father if he could help her husband, Alfonso XI of Castile, at the Battle of Salado in 1340, when the Moors invaded Andalusia.
The Legend says that the Queen stood precisely on the site where the Sanctuary was built, when she received the good news (Boa Nova) that her father would attend her request.  To thank him, she ordered the construction of the sanctuary we can see below.
I also heard this Sanctuary was built over an older church of the village, and inside, it can be found an inscription, a remain of the Endovelicus God Cult, previously established in the Iron Age and spread to most of their Empire by the Romans.

The Nossa Senhora da Boa Nova cult remains alive nowadays, and this temple a popular pilgrimage site of which is celebrated the first weekend after the Easter weekend. This pilgrimage is so important that the Monday of Pascoela (main feast day) is Alandroal's County holiday.

Still regarding faith matters, Mina's Rock Sanctuary, presumedly from the Iron Age, is another of the stunning historical spots to visit. It is a place with a huge power and magic, that can still be felt nowadays. A set of some steps carved in the stone would head to the altar of sacrifice of this holy place. And right next to it there is a hole in the rocks, a kind of a nature made well that caught my attention. It forward me to the word fecundation. Later, I was told too that back in the days, people would go there to pray and ask for a fruitful harvest.

Next to this place, there is the Lucefecit brooklet, that has been related since Middle Age with Lucifer, the Roman name for the Morning star and Goddess Venus.
The Portuguese Ethnographer-Archaeologist and founder of The Archeology National Museum, Leite de Vasconcelos, that methodical and exhaustively studied the religions of the Lusitania, claims this spot was used by the Romans in all their walks of life. There have been found several Endovelicus inscriptions in this area and one of them says Imperato Averno, that Leite de Vasconcelos translated to something like Ruled by what's emanated from below. These temples were used as oracles, where the steam would emanate from below and provide clairvoyance to the believers. He also suggests that people would practice Incubation (some sort of divination) sleeping at the site, hoping for dreams they could use or interpret later.

Maybe inspired by that, in the very first night I have slept in Terena, I had a beautiful and inspired dream with elements present there: Wisteria Flowers and Schist. In the dream, I was just watching the beauty of the colors together. In the end I decided to make a postcard out of it, as a reference to the Endovelicus cult.

In 2011, archaeological excavations in the site of Mina's Rock,  revealed the existence of an old housing area occupied in the first century BC that can be seen and visited now too. Fortunately there have been efforts by the competent authorities, to invest in archaeological research in this region. It is proven that it's worth it and it adds extra value to the municipality.

The name of the county, Alandroal, comes from a very abundant plant here, Oleander, Aloendro or Alandro in Portuguese. That, and the beautiful facades of the whitewashed houses with the blue and yellow stripes are a trade mark from Alentejo I wanted to portray in one of the post cards:

During my stay,  Ana and Sérgio spoiled me and Jorge André Catarino (who was working there at the same time) with the best of their cooks and their favorite local products. Great juices, fantastic salads, unforgettable soups, amazing seasoning... you name it! These guys are artists for life in everything they do, including food!

One of my delights was the bread made by Carlos Major, in his Bakery, one of the few remaining commercial spots with activity in Terena. It wasn't long until - in a 42ºC day - I went to draw him, and here is the result:

The background pattern was based in the Bakery (Padaria) ceramic tile floor.

The sounds in Terena are to mention too: the flocks of sheep, the birds, the crickets, the dogs (specially Jana!) , the bees, the frogs, and of course the cane flutes handmade by Sérgio. We also had the privilege to have a fantastic different music selection everyday. Very inspiring!

These Art residencies culminate with an exhibition (Nas Margens do Lucefécit) with all the artistic work done. This exhibition is included in Festival Terras do Endovélico. If you're interested, you can see the poster here and full program of the festival here.

In case you can make it, feel welcomed at the opening of the Nas Margens do Lucefécit Exhibition, on the 4th of July at 21h in Fórum Cultural Transfronteiriço de Alandroal
Indications on where it is and how to get there, here.

After the exhibition opening, the documentary 'Terras do Endovélico', from José Meireles will be shown. This is a precious document of research that may help us all to understand the richness of this land.

I want to thank you, Jorge André Catarino, for your companionship during our residency, everybody whom I drew and all who supported Lamparina project.  

Special Thank you Ana and Sérgio for your entrepreneurship and dedication, for sharing your knowledge, and for inviting me to participate in this project. 
May the Universe give you back to all the good you are planting with these seeds. 

This should be a work to be continued, the potential is endless.

More in Lamparina site here.

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