Sketch meeting in Silves

Silves, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketch meeting, city wall, town gate, taipa, red sandstone, Algarve, Portugal

The 18th of April was the International Day for Monuments and Sites. Several groups of Urban Sketchers Portugal met that day in cities with historical interest to celebrate the date. As I was going south for work, it was a perfect opportunity to get to know Silves from a different perspective – that of a sketcher.

Silves, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketch meeting, Algarve, Portugal, photographer, dancer, dance

I got there early in the afternoon, but the sketching had been going on since the morning, mostly around the bridge over the Arade and the southern slope of the historical burg, between the river and the castle. A couple of dancers and a photographer chimed in to the town gate square for a photography session with the wall and the urban features as background.

Silves, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketch meeting, city wall, town gate, taipa, red sandstone, Algarve, Portugal, wiring, puxada, Algarve, Portugal

The most visible feature of the monuments and fortifications of the town is the red sandstone of which it’s made. The stones in the ramparts cover up a core of taipa, rammed earth concrete, which makes the walls of Silves a case study in rammed earth endurance. It is left to interpretation whether the walls were historically painted or left bare, but the chromatic contrast between the red sandstone and the whitewashed houses really builds up the atmosphere of Silves.

Silves, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketch meeting, city wall, town gate, taipa, red sandstone, Algarve, Portugal

The town has its own Archaeological Museum featuring exhibits from the paleolithic, all the way through the Roman occupation and the Islamic Iberia and up to the Christian Reconquista, culminating in a few pieces of 16th and 17th century ceramic. By then the town had lost its main role as the center of Algarve, in part due to the diminishing of the river stream and also because the Reconquista was over, so the town became less strategic over time.

Archaeological Museum of Silves, Silves, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketch meeting, column elements, Vicente Sardinha, José Barreiros, Algarve, Portugal

No sketch meeting is complete with a joyful dinner and a couple of pleasant conversations. I was thrilled to meet so many new faces and to be reunited to a few old faces.

Archaeological Museum of Silves, Silves, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketch meeting, Algarve, Portugal

We spent the rest of the evening in the Archaeological Museum, watching a few presentations from experienced sketchers, their journeys and their stories.

Silves, Urban Sketchers Portugal, sketch meeting, conference, Pedro Cabral, João Pinto, Rita Caré, Vicente Sardinha, José Barreiros, Algarve, Portugal

Agriculture 2.0: back to the roots

Grela, Poço de São Tiago, bridge, Vouga, farm, farmhouse, rural

Ana and Zé are two former city-dwellers disillusioned by life in the concrete jungle. A year ago they made the move of going rural, becoming part of a small group of youngsters that are going back to the roots and to a simpler life. It takes a hairy set of cohones and a good warm wardrobe to pull it off, as the nights in the farmhouse by the Vouga river are cold and humid, but they might just pull it off. The foodstuffs are growing fast and lively and they easily mix the study of the elements and its patterns with all the might of the theory, so easy to come by all over the internets. Learning-by-doing is backed up by careful planning and the research skills acquired in their formal professional lives. It’s a sort of agriculture 2.0, where ancient techniques are improved by permaculture notions and a sustainable lifestyle that recycles everything that comes out of the kitchen. It might be the future that they are tilling there.

 

granary, Grela, Vouga, carnival

 

In the sloped terrain that they’re taking care of in the small location of Grela, stand a couple of Espigueiros, small typical granaries made of wood, stone and ceramic tiles to keep the grain nice and dry.

The people on the right-hand side are a good friend from Sweden and his daughter being welcomed into the Portuguese carnival tradition of dressing up weirdly and face-painting. They performed wonderfully!