AN AFTERNOON TRIP TO PARQUE DO FONTELO (VISEU)
We visited the beautiful city of Viseu for a little retail therapy, I needed new running trainers as I go through a pair every 6 months. I christened them in the beautiful Fontelo Park. This city park is so pretty and very serene. We followed the amazing “Poldra” art trail of fascinating sculptures. The joy of Nature and Art intertwined. In all honesty I did have a plan of running a short 5K in the park to try out my new trainers but I was absolutely knackered from all my DIY sanding of the garden railings so we decided to take a leisurely stroll instead of an energetic run. Due to the fact that I was planning on undertaking cardio I just threw on my gym attire and didn’t bother doing my hair or make up so apologies for my ever so fluffy hair and fresh face. I wasn’t intending on having any photos of me but I had to be in a few otherwise you would think that hubby had done away with me and pushed me off a high mountain cliff to get a well deserved break (ha ha).
We were a little confused as a few of the numbered pieces of art are not present, they have disappeared and there are some other different pieces in their place. After a little research I found out that after the initial sculpture route was completed in 2018, a minimum of 3 new works were to be integrated into the route that are set to be part of the exhibit for a period of around 18 months allowing for multiple editions to overlap. Here is the offcicial website where you can find all relevant information: https://poldra.com/en/about/
Our favourite piece was the Skull made from lifejackets, Wow! This artwork is by Pedro Pires and is titled “14,000 Newtons”. It is made of 140 life vests and rubber from a refugee dinghy found in the Greek island of Lesbos (also known as Lesvos) in 2016 where the artist volunteered at a local charity. What a powerful message! We also loved “The People’s Stone” by Steven Barioh. I had a lot of fun with the ducks but my favourite birds were the majestic Peacocks. I love them and they symbolise power, strength, confidence, and even divinity.
We loved everything about this park especially the forest areas, the diversity of shapes, colors and aromas. What a beautiful day amongst nature and to reflect and appreciate just how wonderful life is. Today is the 22nd anniversary of 9/11. It definitely puts things into perspective and proves just how precious life is and that it can be taken in a second without warning. Live your life to the MAX folk.
“Never forget, always in our hearts, God bless.”
The history of this beautiful 16th Century Italian style 10 hectare gardens begins in 1149 when the Bishop of Viseu, D. Odório bought the Fontelo Estate. In 1399, Bishop João Homem began construction of the Episcopal Palace, a work continued by other prelates who succeeded him. In the XVI Century, on the initiative of Bishop D. Miguel da Silva (a powerful dignitary of the Church and a man of enormous fortune and Renaissance taste), Fontelo reached its maximum splendor and was transformed into one of the most exotic and luxurious estates in Portugal. Nowadays, this park is equipped with various sports and leisure facilities, such as swimming pools, a sports pavilion and a municipal stadium. It has abundant vegetation, rare birds and ancient trees.
Fontelo Woods Public Sculpture Circuit
I took photos of all the signage as it is written in English too as well as Portuguese so you can read about each artwork if you wish. I LOVE interpreting art, it’s so crazy how the sculptures can evoke different emotions and feelings. I like to stand, stare and appreciate the work then read the information board about the artist, where they are from and their personal story.
The People’s Stone (Steven Barioh)
From mountain ranges to monoliths, stelae to milestones, naturally formed and hand-carved markers have been used as physical tools of reference, from gauging where we are, to saying how far we have to go, to communicating who has come before us. In contemporary times, carved stone forms are used less often, replaced by an increasing portable type-based languages, fulfilling this function of practical and cultural, visual communication. Graffiti, one form of “marking” and mark making, also a tool for communication and artistic expression, can be argued to follow in this lineage: a name, an expression, a code and/or a message left to be received by another. These “signs,” are now placed on objects, instead of being of the objects, except where sculptural and/or public artworks bridge between the past and the present. The artist Steven Barioh motivated by previous stone-inspired art works and the stoney landscape of Portugal, in context of the Fontelo parks own geology within an urban environment with the art work The People’s Stone aims to juxtapose the monolithic plus artistic gesture with the signature “tag” or “throwie,” unique reference marks made in collaboration over time, during the POLDRA project exhibition. The sculpture, a human-size stele as public-participatory surface, will be installed as an reference-marker of where we are now, and aesthetically, stating who we are in this moment.
The stone was for tagging and graffiti not the information board but some people are clearly deranged! My favourite graffiti is “Gay is OK.” Love is Love folk!
Carpet of the Rock (Jazmin Charalambous)
Textile works fall into a tradition of illuminating socio-political issues. In the shadow of Viseu’s Stadium, this piece marks out a place where conflict becomes constructive. Shedding light on the almost comical clashes between peafowls/peacocks and pigeons in Fontelo, the locally grown wooden carpet is composed of two overlapping patches that mark out territories through pattern, colour and texture. A binding central rock acts as its neutral common ground. It invites birds to occupy it, or provides a place for people to linger and observe. Adapting to the form of the landscape and its features, it floats above the ground, maintaining and revealing existing ecosystems through openings in its structure. The piece emphasises the importance of heterogeneity within environments by creating unity through inclusive and pluralistic approaches.
We had quite a funny experience here as we were pelted from above by tons of tiny acorns (ha ha). I LOVE oak trees and that acorns symbolise Hope and New Beginnings.
14,000 Newtons (Pedro Pires)
Our absolute favorite! You can clearly see why.
This sculpture derives from the line of work that the artist has been developing about migration, which started with a trip to the island of Lesbos (Greece) in March 2016. The time spent at Lesbos was divided between volunteer work with the NGO ERCI (assisting migrants/refugees that arrived by boat), visual documentation and collection of objects. The work is composed of 140 orange life-vests, that create a contrast with the surroundings of the natural greenery and life of the Fontelo Park. The intention is to create a contrasting dialogue between the elements of the work, the Park and the city of Viseu. This provides a platform for discussion regarding migration, Europe, responsibility, and about life and death.
Misplaced Measure (Signe Ferguson & Thanasis Ikonomou)
“Our piece is quite literally a microphone for a family of birds, a misplaced measure often overlooked. We propose a small incision into the earth, placing the user inside of the listening device, a gramophone of sorts, precisely directed at a vernacular birdhouse installed at the top of the trees. An object of mystery, the sculpture imagines a paradigm shift, representing a metamorphosis from a small caged birdhouse to a larger than life gramophone, an echo chamber for nature. We hope that our sculpture houses not only curious users of the human form, but also empowers nature, including the birds and plants. Too often, art is placed at the eye level, superseding the surroundings. In this case, the art is a gentle filter, exposing and projecting the surroundings, louder than before. The park is the true masterpiece. Pause, Listen.”
Hubby liked this artwork and the message. He found a birds nest high up inside the sculpture!
Living Stone (Liliana Velho)
Inspired by a flowers and plants related micro practice series, “Living Stone” intends to be an island inhabited by beings, populated by micro cosmos’ where natural plants may be mistaken by the ceramic organic forms, in this way creating a lush scenario filled with forms and colors. In order to allow for the habitable qualities of the piece, several small vases were created, sheltering some plants, such as moss and Navels of Venus. To the public is proposed an exercise of contemplating the surrounding nature, in which elements such as flowers, branches and leaves, are discovered, and in sequence, invited to add them into the piece, so that little by little a collective floral arrangement is built. I also saw photos online of another Living Stone but a mini version, we could not find it. We thought it was funny that some gang had tagged the information board. This gang must be so hard core as they hang around amongst nature causing destruction in tranquil forests, not very gang like and I don’t think their top dog leader would be impressed (ha ha).
Fountain Sentry (Rui Sanches)
An anthropomorphic presence, dialogues with the only tree that occupies the centre of the clearing. A construction, rigorous and architectural, confronts and accompanies the vegetal element, wild in its naturalness. A connection is established between the two vertical “beings” that creates a dense space of references, energetic and magnetic, which attracts visitors to a conscious communion with nature. Where there is a hole, we shove our head, never miss an opportunity folk (ha ha).
Little Choir in the Wild (Linfeng Zhou)
This artwork is a music venue dedicated to promoting the music in the forest. It offers diverse housing options for the musicians from various bird species. Since the presence of peacocks has defined the image of Fontelo Park, the peacock feather inspired structure is a tribute to the most iconic residents of this forest. Serving as an interface between birds and humans, it holds choral concerts irregularly to convey the harmonies of those soaring creatures to human ears.
4 Conversations (Xinyi Wang)
A constant conversation in the state of dreaming and consciousness sometimes needs to be interacted with in the physical world, through a means of representation. The conversation is expressed in debate, dialogue, discourse and diatribe, and materialised through the weaving relation of the minds and hands. I’m inviting you all into this world – threading on the threshold of the wood and steel – to enter your own world of meaningfulness. I have a feeling that there may have once upon a time been 4 structures here but now there is 2. Maybe it needs to be renamed as 2 Conversations (ha ha).
Flagrant Crime (Carvalho Araújo)
If I were a sculptor, this would be a sculpture. Located in those unusual places in nature that serve as retreats. Where, absorbed in the moment, the lovers merge into place and into themselves. Oblivious to the looks that meet them in intimacy. Small innocent offense of hiding for fear of being found. Two molded bodies, juxtaposed, resting on a red painted surface…
This piece was bizarre and we did have quite a lengthy chat about it which was fun. I was more fascinated and intrigued with the twisted tree than the dup stone seat.
Fonte de São Jerónimo (Fountain)
What a stunning fountain! I loved the wild boar/pig sculpture on the top. This whole little Square is very pretty with ancient stone benches and traditional blue and white tiles. There was a man fast asleep on one of the stone benches, he looked so peaceful I thought he was dead (ha ha).
Apart from the sculpture trail and the peacocks this was my absolute favourite area of the whole park. Simply gorgeous!
So many ducks! Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.
Daft Duck Selfies
Never miss a Selfie opportunity (ha ha).
Oh my gosh, there were so many Peacocks just meandering around the park. What a sheer delight!
It’s not easy getting a Peacock Selfie, they move faster than Usain Bolt. As you can see I was committed to my mission (ha ha).
A Pigeon in Disguise as a Peacock
He is not doing a very good job (ha ha).
I found some graffiti in the ladies loo on the back of the door. I LOVE my hubby Adrian, he drives me insane but I wouldn’t swap him for all the Pastel de Nata’s in Portugal (ha ha).
Normal is Vastly Overrated – Palácio do Gelo (Shopping Mall)
After we soaked up our nature fix we visited the nearby shopping mall for a little more retail therapy. We stumbled across an awesome shop called “Normal” which is ironic as I’m obvious far from being any type of normal, I’m clearly bonkers (ha ha).
It is basically similar to the British B & M Bargains with a huge selection of toiletries, food snacks, homeware and arts/crafts. The layout is very similar to Tiger. When my daughter visited last month I struggled to source caramel coffee syrup for her iced coffees because it’s not really a thing here in Central rural Portugal and I just drink espressos and the occasional cappuccino. This store had lots of different flavours at a bargain €2.90!
Perfect Gift for Hubby
I also found the perfect gift for hubby (ha ha).
We also had a lovely surprise in FNAC. Hubby loves a browse around this store as he is a geek and into his electronics, guitars and board games. There was an amazing musician which made us smile. Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.
Mr Kebab King
The day ended with a cheeky kebab at the mall food hall.