Leiria is a small city in the centre of Portugal, about an hour away from the capital Lisbon. It is among one of the eldest cities in the country, being conquered to the Moors by the first King of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, in 1135.
In 1254, the King D. Afonso III held his first parliament in Leiria, attended by the representatives of all the kingdom’s boroughs, an event that was considered extremely important in the history of Portugal, for it was the first time that the common people had been allowed a representative member of their own, to express their opinions in court.
In the 14th century, D. Dinis and his wife, the Queen Saint Isabel, made the Castle of Leiria their official royal residence, which would be significantly beneficial for the city’s development and growth.
King D. Dinis’ reign was particularly marked by the planting of the Pinhal de Leiria (Leiria Pine Forest) all along the coastal strip, in order to protect the sand dunes from erosion. These pines were to provide the timber and pitch used in the building of Portuguese ships, especially during the period of the Discoveries.
Yet, it was only in the 19th century that the city of Leiria entered upon its next real phase of development with the firm establishment of its bourgeoisie, very well portrayed by author Eça de Queirós, who set his novel “The Crime of Padre Amaro” there. However, above all, the major influence on Leiria’s development was the work of the architect Ernesto Korrodi, which greatly enhanced the appearance of the city. Since then, and until the present day, the modern and somewhat disorganised spread of new buildings and streets has again changed the face of the city, transforming it into an expanding industrial centre.
Leiria has experienced a sudden rise of projects in creative fields. From music labels to independent publications, theatre companies to alternative music festivals, numerous people have engaged in contributing to a new image of the city, more cultural and adapted to the younger generations.
My proposal is to create a visual language for the city that will not only adapt to its new found identity but also promote it to turists and possible residents. This ‘language’ will try to combine the more recent, alternative and creative appeal of Leiria with the traditional, historic values and landmarks that have always made the city interesting to the public.
Borough Market is one of my favourite markets in London, so I was excited to learn this was going to be the place for our 2nd drawing trip of the term. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go the day we were supposed to, which meant I had to go back by myself to complete the exercise another day.
We had been asked to capture moments through rough sketches, focusing on movement. As such, I thought I’d try and fight my usual controlled hand and draw more loosely, which would get a sense of movement present within my images.
It seemed to work quite well. Even though I don’t get that feeling of movement in every drawing, I do feel they capture the buzz and the environment of the market.
Overall, I feel this was quite a helpful exercise. It reminded me that I don’t have to draw straight, controlled lines all the time, and that loose sketches can also help define the feeling of a place.
While borrowing a book by Virginia Woolf from the LCC library to read in my spare time, I remembered Virginia’s first edition books had very nice illustrated covers. They were made by Virginia’s own sister, Vanessa Bell, who was an artist and member of the Bloomsbury group.
What I like about Vanessa’s covers is that they appear very raw, very hand-made, as if she drew the cover of each and every copy of a book, one by one.
Perhaps this comes from the style of her drawings, or the feeling that she didn’t bother making them perfect and rather embraced their imperfections.
Either way, I feel these are very interesting, unique covers, which certainly capture the atention of potential buyers. As such, I thought I’d use them as inspiration for my own designs.
About a year ago, there was an exhibition at A Casa das Histórias named Old Meets New with works by Paula Rego. Some of these works had previously been in the gallery Marlborough Fine Arts, which often exhibits this artist’s works.
I became interested in this exhibition when I found out some of the works displayed were inspired by two novels by Eça de Queirós, one of which was “O Primo Basílio”, which I am including in my author collection.
“Breakfast” (2015) represents one of the first scenes in the narrative, set in a very hot Summer morning. I do feel this illustration is true to the writing – this image is not that different from what I pictured when reading – and, for that, I quite like it.
In fact, I do think Paula Rego captured the essence of the narrative very well with these images, and particularly the personality of the main character, Luísa (the blonde woman).