Wednesday, October 12, 2016

AZELEJOS & A VINTAGE TILE SHOP IN FARO, PORTUGAL

PORTUGUESE ART

      We recently spent a month traveling through Portugal with a side trip to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. This is the first in my series of a vintage journey to the far western corner of Europe....
OLD TILE SHOP ENTRANCE


    
     As we started our Sunday morning walk through the walled city of Faro, located in the Algarve region of southern Portugal, we noticed a few people coming out of an old building and decided to peak in. It was a shop filled with brightly colored tiles (called azulejos in Portuguese) that
TILE SHOP STAIRCASE
were laid out in fascinating designs. These were the authentic tiles that had been removed from buildings that were hundreds of years old and were randomly displayed in artistic designs throughout the store. Many were hung or just leaning against the walls. Others were displayed on the staircase or lying flat on tables. One table was piled with Portuguese architectural books for customers to peruse for information about the tiles and to perhaps see where they originally came from. There were a few boxes full of single tiles that were priced at
15 each, but most were not priced. Dates marked on some of the pieces were 17c-18c.
VINTAGE TILES ON DISPLAY

      We were there on a Sunday, when all the other stores were closed. I expect that this tile store was opened per a special customer request because it was closed when we walked by later. The place was unique in that there was not a visible name or obvious store front. It was located on a street called Rua da Porta Nova in the old city.


TILED PANEL 16TH CENTURY

    As we were leaving Faro that day we noticed an old abandoned building that had been stripped of its tiles. This made me wonder if tile theft had become a concern in Portugal. It turns out that over the last 20 years there have been massive losses due to theft and lack of conservation. However, efforts of the recently organized project, “S.O.S. Azulego,” have cut the theft by 80% and increased regulations to help prevent the demolition of the tile covered building facades.
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TILED WORK OF ART ON PRIVATE HOME
      The Portuguese works of art called Azulejos are beautifully displayed throughout the country, similar to the frescos in Italy. They are more colorful in some areas than others. In Porto they are predominately blue and white, whereas in the nearby town of Aveiro (called the Venice of Portugal) the tiles are more colorful with pinks, greens and yellows.
     They can be seen on entire walls of churches in immense religious scenes and in geometric patterns on walls of homes. They frequently portray scenes from the history of the country or simply serve as street signs or house number. Although they are not a Portuguese invention (the use of glazed tiles began in Egypt), they have been used more imaginatively and consistently in Portugal than in any other nation.


AZULEJOS FACADE IN AVEIRO







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1 comment:

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