La Quinta das Relvas is an ecological farm located between Lisbon and Porto, Portugal, where the 20-hectare space is dedicated to linking art and sustainable development. Managed by a young Portuguese couple, the farm aspires to become an ecovillage in a few years.
Artistic residencies, permaculture and eco-construction courses… everything is done to raise awareness among the public (local, international, young, adult) regarding art and ecological constructions. In July 2017, 10 artists from the School of Fine Arts of Lisbon came as part of an artistic residency, resulting in an exhibition of their works which was open to the public.
A fresh look at Land Art
The theme of the residence was Land Art, a movement of contemporary art which uses natural materials in their environment since the 1960s. It is outside the scope of art galleries and museums, and it offers a new perspective on the elements. This most often creates ephemeral outdoor works that should be photographed to immortalize them: as they are subject to the laws of nature like wind, sun and rain, they may not last long. This is also part of the performance, as for example some artistic creations only appear at a certain time of day, depending on the light.
Students were given carte blanche for 10 days to connect with the Quinta das Relvas, draw inspiration from it and then produce a work before the last day, when the exhibition opened to the public. All the disciplines taught at the School of Fine Arts of Lisbon were represented (photo, video, sculpture or painting) in order to show the range of possibilities of the artistic world.
Respecting biodiversity thanks to the discovery of eco-construction
For most students who live in Lisbon, this type of residency is a first. For them, it is an immersion in a new framework in the heart of nature, far from the cities. It is also a first on the technical side, as they use materials that they are not familiar with, such as wood, clay or straw-based soil, bamboo and stone.
It was a privileged moment and a time for meetings. I tried to make sure that my artistic project was in harmony with the environment in which it was created. It was also an opportunity to learn new things: for example, to discover new techniques and try some tools I had never used. Also, and most importantly, I discovered that place and its beautiful people! It’s always very stimulating.
– Anna, French student at the School of Fine Arts in Lisbon
The urgent issue of environmental awareness
Beatriz and Antonio, co-founders of the association Quinta das Relvas, started this project only a year ago. As they came from ecology and the art world, it seemed obvious to them to link the two topics in the ecovillage they wanted to create.
Sustainable development is the most pressing issue today – and art is the strongest social tool.
– Beatriz, co-founder of the association Quinta das Relvas
Between two artistic residencies, Quinta das Relvas organizes eco-construction courses to learn how to build clay and straw-based soil domes, bamboo huts, and permaculture courses for all.
To be happy in life, you have to be creative. Art, in the same way as gardening, develops our creativity. Seeing plants grow is a way of creating life
– Antonio, co-founder of the association Quinta das Relvas
The artistic residency in pictures