O Rossio

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There are many words for square in the Portuguese language, each with a specific meaning, or maybe not so much  – praça, largo, terreiro, adro… It so happens that rossio is just another one, as there are several rossios around the country, but there is one which people simply call Rossio. It has another name, an official one, but nobody ever uses it. It’s one of the main squares in Lisboa, and it has had its ups and downs during its history. From there you can spot some of the highlights of the city, including the Carmo convent ruins, which Roque Gameiro decided to focus on. It looms over the hill, a gothic remnant presiding over enlightning-era buildings.

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Na língua Portuguesa há muitas palavras para um alargamento urbano entre edifícios, cada um com o seu significado específico, ou talvez nem por isso – praça, largo, terreiro, adro… Acontece que “rossio” é apenas mais uma, já que existem vários rossios pelo país fora. Mas há um que as pessoas chamam simplesmente de “Rossio”. Tem outro nome, um nome oficial, mas ninguém o usa. É uma das principais praças de Lisboa, já teve os seus altos e baixos durante a sua história. De lá, conseguem-se ver alguns dos pontos fortes da cidade, incluindo as ruínas do convento do Carmo, onde Roque Gameiro se decidiu focar na sua gravura.

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O Rossio by / por Roque Gameiro

Chafariz do Largo do Carmo

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When Roque Gameiro first arrived in Lisboa, from his native Minde, he found that the cityscape was changing dramatically, as new industries and technologies tore apart the canvas of an ancient and picturesque city with which he indentified best. Such changes stirred in Gameiro the will to record the sights, the atmosphere and the people of the old town of Lisboa. He went on to produce over a hundred illustrations and watercolors from the spots he found best conveyed the idea and the spirit of Lisboa.

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Quando Roque Gameiro primeiro chegou a Lisboa, desde a sua Minde natal, encontrou uma paisagem urbana em mudanças drásticas. Novas indústrias e novas tecnologias rasgavam a tela de uma cidade antiga e pitoresca com a qual ele mais se identificava. Tais mudanças atiçaram em Roque Gameiro a vontade de registar as vistas, o ambiente e as pessoas da velha Lisboa. Assim, ele arrancou com o projecto de produzir mais de uma centena de gravuras e aguarelas dos locais que ele achou que mais transmitiam a ideia e o espírito de Lisboa.

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Chafariz do Largo do Carmo by / por Roque Gameiro

Freedom Revolution Workshop with Marina Grechanik

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Largo do Carmo

This saturday, we had the privilege of having Marina Grechanik from Tel Aviv, in Lisboa, for a Freedom Revolution Workshop. The motto was to sketch the revolution by telling the story of its heroes: the people. We used her favored materials and techniques, and I was deep outside my comfort zone, except in the first warmup sketch.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Largo do Carmo, expressions

The first challenge was to capture emotions in people’s faces, with a quick gesture, with line or with a combination of wash and line. The sketches with less detail seem to be the most successful in conveying the basic emotions people were showing. Can you spot the instructor?

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Rossio, postures

We came down to Rossio train station, because of the rain, for the next challenge: to sketch action. To capture basic stances and gestures, body postures of people doing small actions, with line or with a color wash. Near the end of the challenge, I sat next to Paula Cabral, who was kind enough to let me use her ecoline-filled waterbrush – a very efficient tool! And works marvels in combination with the colored pencil and Paula’s wax crayons.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, lunch, lottery

During lunch, I sketched a panorama of our table, and to avoid further conflicts or complications, the portrayed ladies made a lottery to decide who would keep the sketch. Teresa, the winner, portrayed on the far right side of the sketch, was happy.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Terreiro do Paço

The afternoon challenge was longer in time. We took over the Terreiro do Paço, the administrative plaza of the capital, turned tourist attraction in the latest years, and more populated that day especially because it was one of the major sites of the actions that led to the ’74 revolution. The site is naturally charged with a political energy and, as Walter Rossa put it in a conference I attended recently, “it is meant to be inhospitable”. Will all the tourist and leisure life that exists here now soon come to an end? Wouldn’t we want it to come to an end?

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Terreiro do Paço

The challenge was divided into two parts. Number one: to sketch a story of a single place, using only a line tool, gathering information about the actions, the characters and the interactions that happen in that particular spot. Number two: same as number one, but with washes and colors.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Terreiro do Paço, music

The stories I captured in line weren’t so successful, so I hurried to get to do some more washes. My education in washes began in the Lisbon Urban Sketchers Symposium in 2011, in Cathy Gatland and Isabel Fiadeiro‘s Urban portraits. Now with Marina, this technique awoke from the ashes and, hopefully, is in me to stay.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, Terreiro do Paço, music

The musicians in the previous story were performing under the archways of the Terreiro, surrounded by some Banco de Partilha Social and around a couple hundreds of school kids going about their diverse kid’s businesses. Somewhere along the way, one of the girls borrowed a guitar and a high school band immediately and spontaneously formed and performed three songs with enough vigor and power to attract a small mob.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, skateboard, Terreiro do Paço

Some skaters improvised an obstacle from a sunshade support. Soon afterwards, the light drizzle had turned to a more proper rain. We took shelter under the archways, Marina wrapped up the workshop and we moved along the Baixa to drink some tea and some moscatel, to warm up our bodies and lift up our spirits.

Freedom Revolution Workshop, Marina Grechanik, workshop, Lisbon, Lisboa, sketching, Urban Sketchers, Urban Sketchers Portugal, 25 de abril, tea, moscatel, Baixa