A few years ago, to celebrate my sisters 30th birthday, my mum, my sisters and I had a fantastic weekend in Lisbon. What a fab city! Here we are enjoying a little of the Portuguese hospitality.
Quick history lesson, there was a catastrophic earthquake in Lisbon in 1755 which levelled the city. What was left behind by the earthquake was fully destroyed by a tsunami and subsequent fire that lasts for days. Lisbon was rebuilt of course, and the traditional azulejo tiles were recast and used to decorate both the interior and exterior of churches and palaces right through to ordinary homes. In 1988, the district known as Chiado was again destroyed by fire. Where my work comes in is, lots and lots of the tiles synonymous with Portugal’s capital survived the fire. You can pick some up at the flea market Feira da Ladra (the thieves fair) for a few euros which I did. They have been sitting in my studio for years and it is only recently I started really looking at them.
I may have mentioned before, I love, love, love pattern and design and I find these tenacious little bits of porcelain beautiful but I also love that they have been through so much and survived – something I can’t help taking some solace and inspiration from!
For my current work I have taken some of the patterns from the tiles and abstracted the design in watercolour with some metallic thread and ink. What I am attempting to capture is the balance between vulnerability and strength.
The image below is the watercolour technique overlaid with a silver mono-print
Here is just a little bit of thread work on an image – this is on a heavy quality watercolour paper but I think it could be really effective on a lightweight silk or cotton.
It’s pretty early days with this body of work but I feel there are some interesting developments here already and I think some of the work has potential – I’m curious to see where it all leads.