Elvas, the archetypal Portuguese border town, was the stage of an Urban Sketchers Portugal meeting in the spring of 2013. Soon after, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although, a very important city and military outpost in days long gone, and despite the recent UNESCO status attribution, Elvas is still subject to the desertification process that haunts the country’s inland regions. As such, lots of stores are closed, abandoned, covered up in newspaper, waiting for better times.
AIAR is a regional Association that confronts these challenges head-on, using the rich local culture and capitalizing on the UNESCO status. They had a simple but effective and innovative idea: to use the hundreds of sketches produced by the dozens of sketchers in those busy days of the meeting, to decorate the streets of Elvas, using the windows of the closed down shops as frames. The widened sketches now give a purpose to the deserted façades, and convey a sense of hope in that the less sketches there are on the streets, the more lively commerce will be.
I didn’t attend the meeting in 2013, but I had the opportunity to contribute to the street exhibition with a sketch made this summer. Christmas in Elvas became a little sketchier thanks to AIAR.
(Catch up on the whole story here)
Thank you Patrícia Canastreiro for the photos!