Tag Archive for: art

A beacon of hope for the preservation of coral reefs

An amazing piece of tapestry by Algarve textile artist Vanessa Barragão has been donated by the Portuguese government to the United Nations, which will display it permanently on the wall of the Delegates Lounge at its headquarters in New York.

The four-by-two meters artwork, entitled Coral Vivo (Living Coral), aims to be a beacon of hope for the preservation of corals. It took two months to create, using only recycled materials such as wool and lyocell.

Despite her 31 years of age, Vanessa Barragão has already exhibited her art around the world, from the USA to Shanghai and from Australia to Japan. She admitted that being invited by the government to donate this piece to the UN stands out as one of her most impressive achievements.

It’s no surprise that the oceans – and corals specifically – are such a strong inspiration for her. She was born in Albufeira, where she spent her childhood at the beaches of the Algarve and used to travel with her parents to coral reefs in the Caribes. When she turned 18, she left home to study Fashion Design at the University of Lisbon. During that time she became more conscious about consumption and sustainability.

After her study she moved up north, where she worked as a textile designer at an artisanal carpet factory in Póvoa de Varzim. It was during this period that she became aware of the amount of waste generated by mass production and the extreme pollution in the textile industry.

In 2020 she decided to move back to the Algarve where she opened her own studio and combined her ecological awareness with techniques based on ancestral textile practices like crochet, weaving, embroidery and macrame. All the materials used come from waste and leftovers from Portuguese factories.

‘Just as the delicate yet resisting threads in this tapestry, all life on the planet is intermeshed in an intricate and co-dependent network. Coral reefs are among the most stunning habitats with the greatest biodiversity on our planet but are extremely threatened,’ Secretary-General António Guterres stated, when the tapestry was officially donated to the UN on the 18th of March in New York.   

Coral reefs are not only stunning, they also matter. Although covering less than 1% of the ocean about 25% of all marine species are found around them. Due to the global heating crisis, ocean record temperatures have caused corals to bleach in the three tropical basins of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean.  

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – the planet’s biggest coral reef covering an area a little larger than the size of Italy – is experiencing its most widespread bleaching on record. ‘It is a graveyard out there’ according to professor Terry Hughes, a renowned veteran coral scientist.  

Enjoy your week          Aproveite a sua semana                (pic Ptres/Sapo)

‘Basically same place, same art, different name’

Lisbon’s Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB) – the city’s main cultural centre – is to open a new museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the MAC-CCB, in the space previously occupied by the Berardo Collection Museum.

Besides a different name, visitors won’t be noticing any change. ‘It will be possible to visit the art collection amassed by the Madeiran art impresario Joe Berardo just as it has always been’, according to Portugal’s minister of culture, Pedro Adão Silva.

The Portuguese state stepped in to safeguard access to Berardo’s vast art collection after three banks filed a lawsuit to recover debts from the businessman. The enormous collection – including works by Miró, Mondrian, and Francis Bacon – was valued in 2006 at 320 million but is worth more than twice now.

The story began in 2016 when the judicial police (PJ) started investigating an economic group financing operations with State bank CGD in 2006-2009 to a value of around 439 million euros. Berardo’s involvement in this group has been a focus for the media and the government ever since.

In 2021 he was arrested on suspicion of a multimillion fraud against State bank CGD, tax fraud and money laundering and is currently on the largest bail ever in the country (5 million). According to the PJ the group of which Berardo was a part, did not repay the loans to CGD and ‘resorted to mechanisms of renegotiation and debt-restructuring in order to avoid ever having to pay back the money’.

To date, the group has caused almost a billion euros in damages to three banks: CGD, Novo Banco, and Millennium (BCP). The impresario used the art collection as security for all three loans when in fact he doesn’t even own it.

Last year the Government started a process of the extinction of the Berardo Foundation, in better days reverted to its work in promoting arts until it became horribly clear that its patron, the 78-year-old Joe Berardo – once hailed as one of the richest men in the country and holding high honours –  was not running the foundation correctly.

In 1985 he was given the Order of the Infante by then-president Ramalho Eanes and in 2004 received the Grand Cross of the same order from president Jorge Sampaio. In the meantime, Manuela Ferreira Leite, former finance minister and president of the Council of National Orders, is working on the honours to be removed.

It is the first time the government has taken such a drastic step – i.e. extinguishing a private foundation – as the trust promoted activities outside its legal scope and used the funds for the benefit of the tycoons’ family.

MAC-CCB won’t just include the Berardo Collection but also the Elipse Collection, compiled by the corrupt BPP banker João Rendeiro, who fled the country and died last year in a South African jail.  

Enjoy the new year         Approveite o ano novo          (pics Publico/Sapo)

‘Zé Povinho looks from one side to the other and it stays – as always – the same’

Who doesn’t remember the bright red tomato-shaped bowls, turmeric-coloured pumpkin tureens or pitch-black swallows on the wall in your grannies’ home?
Portugal is the ‘hottest’ tourist destination in the world and even temperatures reached record highs this summer. The over a century old pottery of Bordalo Pinheiro has also become ‘hot’ and a ‘must-have for today’s millennials.’

Raphael Bordalo Pinheiro was a socialist, journalist, political caricaturist and publisher of satirical newspapers, who liked to mock the late 19th-century Portuguese society.

He created the popular cartoon Zé Povinho – a character of social criticism – who became the symbol of the ordinary Portuguese man.
The figure’s main characteristic is the gesture of the cuff (‘Toma’), representing his facet of revolt and insolence.

Bordalo was also a sculptor and ceramist, who wanted to elevate everyday tableware to the design standards of porcelain.

Although by many called ‘kitsch’, his designs are firmly rooted in the Portuguese culture and natural environment. He made vegetables, flowers, insects, fish, and birds – in natural shapes and colours – look as real as possible.

The Bordalo Pinheiro factory –since 1885 based in Caldas da Rainha, 75 km north of Lisbon – works with its own sculptors, who create new moulds from original pieces designed by Bordalo between 1884 and 1910.

This year the company is opening its first shops abroad, in Paris and Madrid.
Half the one million pieces it sold last year – almost entirely handmade by the 250-strong workforce – went to buyers outside Portugal.

The Bordalo Pinheiro museum in Lisbon reunites much of his work although most of his ceramic pieces can be admired in Caldas da Rainha.

Bom fim de semana                                                     Have a great weekend