Sunday, October 30, 2016

inspiring patterns in the tiles

Travelling to Portugal I hoped to see some of the tiles I'd heard and read about, and I wasn't disappointed - one can't really not see them. Old and modern, telling stories or just for decoration, we saw plenty of examples as we made our way from Lisbon in the south to Porto in the north, and then in the towns along the Duoro River.

Everywhere in the old town of Lisbon, were cobblestones
or splendid patterned pavements, made from different coloured stone or tiles.

Piles of little blocks to be laid (this was the weekend)  
Some older examples

Tiles on the outside of buildings

 and tiles spotted in entry halls

Tiles for the tourists
We travelled a little further out to the wonderful Azulejo Museum to see examples of the different types and uses of tiles over the centuries. It is well worth the visit.  My camera got a good workout but I'll just show a few here :-)
This is the pretty entrance to the museum which is in an old convent.

Captions are given in English. The introduction states "The Azulejo is an identitary art of Portugal. Its uninterrupted use for the past five centuries differs from how it was perceived in other cultures, asserting a Portuguese taste. The museum is the staring point to appreciate this heritage, found all over the country, applied in the spaces for which it was designed"

A few brief points (search on azulejo if you want to know more) - glazed pavement tiles have been used in Portugal since the 13th century - simple geometric shapes in plain colours to begin with then shapes like alfardons (elongated hexagons) and painted.. By the 16th century they were being used on walls and facades. They provide good temperature control (insulation) and prevent water damage and wear on buildings.  The early motifs influenced by Islamic traditions were later replaced in the 16th to 18th centuries by western motifs and elements. Besides being imressive visually, the tiles have been used in public spaces to tell stories and record history.     
 Some of the antique pieces from the collection

and original pieces in the convent

 with splendid plaster work too.
 The European motifs include nature - animals and plants
A tile wall specially designed for a stair case

An amazing 18 metre picture of Lisbon just prior to the 1755 earthquake which destroyed much of the city

A wall in a moastery dining room

The tradition is continuing. These are from an exhibition of modern tile pictures
  Some examples from a church and an external wall in Coimbra, 
 in Porto
  and some of the works from 1937 on the outside of Pinhao railway station

Finally some early recycling. Tiles from earlier centuries collected from demolished buildings were reused in the Palace at Sintra (in the 18th or 19th century)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

moving forward

It has been several months since I wrote anything. That time has been a mixture of pleasure and excitement, and then deep sadness.  I had trouble trying to post while I was travelling in Europe and since then life has been turned upside down with the passing of my husband soon after my return. After 45 years with the last few spent as carer, it will take a while to get used to the change. Thank you to family and friends, especially my quilting friends, who have been very supportive.

Now to begin to tell something of my travels which took me to Portugal, Spain, France (and the European Patchwork Meeting) and then to visit family in Munich, Groningen and Stockholm.

I travelled on a tour from Lisbon to Madrid including a cruise on the River Duoro from Porto to the Spanish border. In Portugal I wanted to see the famous tiles, and I wasn't disappointed. I'll cover them in another post, as with some fabulous old tapestries. Along the way I was looking out for textiles. The traditional crafts are hard to find now, the finished product generally being too expensive. Portugal has experienced economic depression in recent years and has been basing its recovery primarily on wine/port, cork and newly manufactured quality table and bedroom linens - very nice, but not cheap either (and heavy in the luggage)

Here are a few things that caught my eye.
A shop in Lisbon - the window display and bolts of fabric for sale inside (displayed like it was when I was growing up)

I saw this hanging in the distance in Lisbon and zoomed in on it. Don't know its purpose. Textile of some sort by the edges of each piece (and tiles would be too heavy)

  An interesting modern tapestry in the hotel
A tapestry I spotted through a doorway
 Items for sale in tourist shops in a narrow street in Sintra

An old tapestry in a winery in Porto
Samples at the door to entice you. The back piece is quite heavy - not sure what it was for.
 The hand embroidered sign from a shop which did have some hand worked pieces
 Table napkin from a dinner at a winery.
 Hand worked pieces for sale at an antique shop

 And nearby this fabric hanging on the door - not sure if it was decorative, or washed and drying
 That is fairly short. I'll try to write about tiles soon.