An evening of lectures in Gaia


Tiago Cruz is a natural speaker and teacher. After a wine tasting session on the south bank of the Douro, the Urban Sketchers Portugal Norte sketch meeting proceeded inside the Porto wine cellar Calem for a couple of lectures, the first being Tiago’s “O Nós e os Cadernos: o diário em ‘Diário Gráfico“. The thought-provoking themes we were discussing earlier across the bridge, were now tossed to the public realm, stirring a debate on the private and public nature of the graphic journal, on the secret and exhibitionist aspects of our drawings and on the relationship between one’s graphic experiments and explorations and the publishing business.

O Tiago Cruz é um orador e professor em toda a medida. Depois de uma prova de vinhos à beira do Douro, em Gaia, o encontro de desenhadores dos Urban Sketchers Portugal Norte seguiram para dentro das caves Calem para um par de palestras, sendo a primeira “O Nós e os Cadernos: o diário em ‘Diário Gráfico” do Tiago. Os temas que discutiamos poucas horas antes na margem oposta do Douro, eram agora lançados ao público, provocando um debate sobre a natureza privada e pública do diário gráfico, sobre os aspectos secretos e exibicionistas dos nossos desenhos, e a relação entre as nossas próprias experiências gráficas e o negócio da edição.


Next up, architect João Paulo Delgado told us the history of the city of Porto, a commercial crossroads hailing from the Celtic Iberian Peninsula, all the way through the Roman occupation and the Middle Ages, up until the notorious Ponte das Barcas catastrophe during the French Invasions and to the present. The Latin name of the city is the root of the very name of the country. Portus = port, and Callis = road. A fitting name for a city and a nation of traders.

A seguir, o arquitecto João Paulo Delgado contou-nos a história da cidade do Porto, um cruzamento de rotas comerciais a funcionar desde a Península Ibérica Céltica, passando pela ocupação Romana e a Idade Média, até ao célebre desastre da Ponte das Barcas durante as Invasões Francesas e ao nosso tempo. O nome latino da cidade é a raíz do próprio nome do país. Portus = porto e Callis = estrada. Um nome adequado para uma cidade e uma nação de comerciantes.

Graphic journalism workshop / Oficina de jornalismo gráfico

Graphic journalism workshop

During the past few weekends, Eduardo Salavisa, sketcher, and Alexandra Prado Coelho, journalist, have been teaching a graphic journalism workshop in Museu Bordalo Pinheiro in Lisboa. The workshop is inspired on the weekly column “Crónica Urbana” printed in Público, where a journalist writes a chronicle to be coupled with a sketch done on site by an illustrator.

Durante os últimos fins-de-semana, o Eduardo Salavisa, desenhador, e a Alexandra Prado Coelho, jornalista, têm estado a leccionar uma oficina de jornalismo gráfico no Museu Bordalo Pinheiro em Lisboa. A oficina é inspirada na coluna semanal “Crónica Urbana” do Público, em que um jornalista escreve uma crónica acompanhada de um desenho feito no local por um ilustrador.

Graphic journalism workshop

We spent the second and third classes at Lisboa’s horseback riding club (Sociedade Hípica Portuguesa), gathering information for a story to be compiled in a single reportage with sketches done on site. The next post will feature my results for this final assignment. Stay tuned!

Passámos a segunda e a terceira sessões na Sociedade Hípica Portuguesa, no Campo Grande, juntando elementos para uma história, para ser compilada numa única reportagem com desenhos feitos no local. O próximo post terá a minha reportagem resultante deste trabalho final. Fiquem atentos!

Graphic journalism workshop

Learn to teach

March was a month invested in education. I enrolled in a Certified Pedagogy Course that enables its graduates to become certified instructors. It starts out by everyone preparing and doing a 10-minute long presentation on any subject they feel comfortable with. Everyone gets to see the presentation recordings and comment on them.

pedagogy, class, presentation, Portugal, Lisboa, Arco Cego, Mestre, course

Afterwards, the class embarks on a month-long voyage exploring several subjects on pedagogic and evaluating techniques, on digital assets, on establishing goals and learning how to empathize with different kinds of classes and individual students. Each module adds a little bit of knowledge that the students will apply on a final 20-minute presentation to the class, in which they showcase their mastery on being an excellent instructor.

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My final presentation had to do with everyday sketching. By using simple geometric figures, everyone in the class had to do a portrait of their facing colleague in tiny squares of sticking paper. Then, they would stick the portrait into a scene, which I had prepared previously, so that a group portrait of the classroom would result. The conclusion? With simple figures and no great effort involved, people with no drawing experience whatsoever managed to do a collective portrait of the classroom, individually and as a team. They managed to overcome their fear of sharing their drawings, largely because everyone was on the same level and everyone was expected to contribute.

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During the final class, we had the chance to analyse recordings from our final presentations and comment on the success of everybody becoming excellent certified instructors. Celebrations were held in a restaurant nearby, where I was challenged to appear in one of my own sketches.

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Lisboa in the turn of the century

The 20th century, that is.

Lisboa City Hall is promoting an activity amongst the Portuguese Urban Sketchers community that focuses on a list of 19th to 20th century threatened buildings. The aim is to attract attention to these buildings, alerting the civil society about the dangers of letting these gems perish.

My contribution to the common effort is a portrait of a former industrial building known as “A Napolitana“, a pasta factory, built in 1908, in the industrial area of Santo Amaro. It’s one of the first examples of food production mechanizing and one of the last remaining specimens of its kind. Santo Amaro became a fully integrated part of the city and is no longer industrialized, but many buildings in the area still preserve industrial archetypes. It is built in yellowish brick, an uncommon material in Lisboa, and its façades are decorated with small tile panels.

Napolitana, factory, building, architecture, Lisboa, Portugal, Santo Amaro, Alcântara, 20th century, tiles

Most of the residential buildings around the area are former workers’ houses. Lately, the area has been subject to a mild gentrification, mostly due to LXFactory, another former factory that has been converted into a design district and offices.

The historical downtown of Lisboa under discussion

On the 21st of April, the Central Bank of Portugal, together with GECoRPA – A business organization dedicated to heritage, and ICOMOS – International Council on Monuments and Sites, held a full-day conference about the future of the Baixa Pombalina, the historical downtown of Lisboa, as a potential UNESCO world heritage site. The application process seems to be stuck in the meanders of political maneuvers and no one has the full picture as to what is actually going on. The conference’s mission was to put everything in evidence and in perspective to everyone involved directly or indirectly in this process. The contributions ranged from engineering and architectural specialists, showing studies and successful architecture designs, but also representatives from the political arena and historians and thinkers with some degree of knowledge about the matter at hand.

Lisboa, Baixa Pombalina, Baixa, downtown, earthquake, seismic construction, conference, history, historic building, building, urbanism, urban design, architecture

The core value of the Baixa Pombalina is that it was a landmark in the world’s urban design. It was a exemplary masterplan in the broader sense of the word, as it solved the housing problem for countless victims of the 1755 earthquake, managed to bring Lisboa’s center to the state-of-the-art cities club with a seismic-resistant prefab architecture design, established the terms for the city’s growth for centuries to come, and was planned with financial and political mechanisms that enabled it to be built and to endure for ages to come.

Lisboa, Baixa Pombalina, Baixa, downtown, earthquake, seismic construction, conference, history, historic building, building, urbanism, urban design, architecture, Museum of Money, Banco de Portugal

While the final goal – the application to take the Baixa Pombalina to the UNESCO council – remains fuzzy and distant, and in the hands of far too many variables (such as political shifts and economic winds of change), the gains to be had were a full grasp of the complexity of the matter to everyone present. A lot of students were there alongside professionals and bureaucrats, and it is possible that some of them might have something to say in the future on this matter.

There was still time for a quick tour to the future Museu do Dinheiro. Fitting for a building owned by the Central Bank of Portugal, except that the building is actually a former church in the heart of the Baixa Pombalina. Any conspiracy theorists out there?