Since the opening in 2004 some 750 artists from 54 countries had a residence up to three months.
Artists and scientists with (emerging) professional standing are eligible for residence. The price for renting an apartment is 100 euro per week. Residencies are generally 3 to 10 weeks.
OBRAS is open from April until October. Generally there are 6-8 residents in the same time.
OBRAS co-operates with organizations in Portugal and abroad. If required, OBRAS advises and assists in networking with the art community in Portugal.
Occasionally, OBRAS organizes cultural events such as exhibitions, concerts and theatrical performances.
Below is an impression of the residents and their projects in 2019. On www.obras-art.org more recent and earlier residencies are mentioned.
In 2019 OBRAS-Portugal hosted 50 residents and organized two big exhibitions, a musical theatre performance and 10 smaller cultural events. For more details and other years see www.obras-art.org
RESIDENTS (April-October 2019)
Maria Hannson (Sweden) is singer and performative artist. She came to OBRAS to explore her voice: to go beyond singing genres and find her expression in the performative arts. Maria brought several masks. They change the perception of the voice, both for the audience and for herself. She showed this in a short performance.
Maria got several unique experiences. One was singing while (voluntarily) been locked up in the fortress of Evoramonte. And she danced, sang and had a photo shoot and sang in abandoned marble quarries. These experiences will be presented in Sweden.
Karen Bernard (USA) is a dancer and performance artist. She created and executed a beautiful performance about trauma due to a murder. Karen played the roles of victim, witness and murderer. In fact there were more participants in this performance. One was a colleague dancer: Lisa Parra, who was filmed some time ago and now projected on the wall. Karin and Lisa were doing a duet. The other participants were the audience. They were sitting on stage in a formation that is standard for the members of a grand jury in a juridical trial.
Sarah Millar (UK) was working on a book with narrative non-fiction stories with many autobiographical details. The book’s structure has four elements: character/setting/theme/conflict and are woven together by the narrator´s inner dialogue. Sarah impressed everybody at her reading, both because her personal story is far from mainstream and because her style and wording are original and swinging: conscious prose poetry, she named her style.
Sherry Wiggins (USA) came twice to OBRAS. In May she did photo shoots with the Portuguese photographer Luis Branco in the fortress of Evoramonte and in nature directly around our house. Earlier work of Sherry and Luís has been exhibited this year in Denver, Colorado. In October Sherry returned to prepare her exhibition that is scheduled for April, May 2020 in the Igreja de São Vicente in Évora. This former church is beautiful but also dominant in its architecture. Sherry took sufficient time to find a lay-out in which her works do not compete, merely integrate and may be even communicate with the building. The exhibition will show a compilation of photos that Luís Branco made in an intense collaboration with Sherry in the past four years.
Esmeralda Carbral (Canada) grew up on a Portuguese island in the Atlantic. At OBRAS she was working on a book that reflects on having two identities: both Canadian and Portuguese. She explored the longing in the immigrant’s soul to live in two places at once, the search for an own version of “home”. This essay is built up with stories of wild weather, culinary adventures and Portuguese bureaucracy and is often very funny.
The cellist Beate Schnaithmann (Germany, living in Switzerland) came twice to OBRAS In May she studies for herself but had several collaborative projects. With Rob Monaghan she went at night to an abandoned marble quarry to make recordings of the cello and croaking frogs. Later at daylight she played Benjamin Britten a marble quarry. Most remarkable was the start of a trio with Mauro Dilemma (piano) and Andreia Vaz (violin). Beate came back in September came for rehearsals and a beautiful concert with works of Astor Piazolla. Beate spent most of her only free day on a visit to an abandoned marble quarry where she played the cello at sunset.
Wilma Geldof (Holland) was writing on her newest novel: about a boy who confesses that he murdered his mother (even although going the story this fact is getting less clear). A deeper layer of the novel is a contemplation on an unhealthy tight bond between mother and sun.
Julia da Conceicão Estevão (Holland) was exploring the sense of feeling home. This subject partly reflected her personal situation: her parents are from two countries and she just decided to move from Amsterdam to Berlin. Finding a kind of home in nature was an important part of her work. In nature she intends to create (in the words of Nietzsche) art that breathes. A side project, after having seen the embroideries on the farmers market, was making her own version in colors that she found in nature.
Scott Wixon (USA) made a series of 12 abstract paintings in water colour. His starting point is generally an amorphous form that reminds to a micro-organism. And then he adds forms by association. The final result was in all cases very convincing, both in terms of artistic skills and in compositional quality.
Richie Mendelsohn (USA) was making sound and music compositions, using both the available music instruments and his own electronic equipment. One was “requiem for a snail”, made after he accidentally stepped on it. He also gave us some insight of the way he was composing.
Iosef Yusupov and Yelena Yusupova are set designer and costume designer, respectively. They came to work on theatre productions in Azerbaijan and China. Although Iosef and Yelena live in Manhattan and work worldwide, they strongly feel their roots: Iosef is from Tajikistan and his ancestors came from Spain and Morocco. Yelena is from Saint Petersburg. They share a passion for painting. They brought and exhibited ten drafts of posters, all hand painted, for events they were involved in. They clearly show the Eastern influence, especially of the Russian avant-garde of the beginning of the 20th century.
Gwenn Sampé (USA, currently living in France) was working on a one-woman-show entitled “Boundaries” that examines the limitations we place on ourselves and the influence of society on this. These limitations feed fears for our self, for our body and for the other. On 27 September she gave spectacular performance, being a summarized version of the show. With the enormous reach of her voice Gwenn was singing and telling about fears for ourselves and for the other. Her melodies were jazzy, sometimes interrupted by screaming, whispering a lullaby or singing a swinging gospel.
Gwenn´s performance was the start of an evening full of music and poetry. Eilleen Kaene sang some of her own songs, Stella Whalley had an open studio, José Rodriguez presented a poetry project, Maria Hannson gave a musical performance with a wooden mask and Fernando Costa did sing, accompanying himself on a viola Portuguesa.
Eileen Keane (Ireland) is singer-songwriter, performer, poet and writer. She sang on several occasions, came to OBRAS to write on her novel/memoir, covering the first 30 years of her life. It is a life full of drama, tragedy, adventure and love.
Jona Ray (India) wrote poems on historical or societal issues, sometimes charming, more often heavy, but always in the words of voice-less people: an over-worried father influencing family life even after his death, the fate of spouses of defeated heroes, holocaust victims pushed in trains to a concentration camp, … During her artist talk Jona was reading out some poems with musical intervals with compositions of Tetsuya Hori.
On 6 June we had the opening of two exhibitions in the Gallery of INATEL in Évora. This opening was highlighted by an impressive performance by Phyllis Akinyi (dance) and Stephan Jarl (percussion).
Phyllis started her performance by walking through the two exhibitions and continued on a stage together with Stefan in the patio of the Palacio. The performance deals with identity, cultural roots and tradition, but also refers to the liberation of the feminine. Phyllis is a Danish / Kenyan performer who works mainly as flamenco dancer in Scandinavia and Spain. In this performance she mixed flamenco with Scandinavian post-modernity and Kenyan ritual dance.
Ingrid Simons, painter from Holland, came back for her tenth residency! This time it was for two months and it became the most productive residency until now. Ingrid paints half-abstract landscapes and she is increasingly successful and renowned. In most recent years made a big shift: from interpreting the landscape she is experiencing the landscape. José Rodrigues dos Santos, a Portuguese friend is writing an essay on Ingrid’s work. Ingrid is invited by the Estremoz Museum to have an exhibition in spring 2020 in the beautiful Dom Dinis Gallery.
Simon Frisch (USA) was working on a music composition that tells about Anne de Bretagne’s legendary forty-day funeral (1514), which marked the beginning of a power struggle that still lives in the current Breton consciousness. Simon´s compositions are contemporary but clearly refer to medieval and renaissance polyphonic singing.
Maude Deslauriers (Canada) was doing a residency in the scope of her Master’s degree in Fine Arts. Maude´s work acts as a reinterpretation of botany. She observed that in traditional taxonomy illustrations often show similarities with human organs and especially female genitals. Maude related with feminism. She used mediums of traditional botanical illustration such as watercolour and gouache to create half abstract images with suggestions towards nature and the human body.
Bel Falleiros (Brazil, living in the USA) was working on a long-term project on monuments in public space. At OBRAS she focussed on Pelourinhos. These are columns, often made of marble, and most of the time placed on a public square. It was the location where justice was spoken and where punishments were executed. The Portuguese brought this custom to Brazil, where it stepwise became the symbol of oppression of the native Indians and especially the slaves by the colonisers. That is why in Brazil they virtually all have been destroyed in the post-colonial time. In Portugal they do not have this connotation and are valued as a historical object, causing odd feelings by Brazilian visitors.
Geoffrey Stone (USA) was working on his second novel that tells the history of a family in the nineteenth century that tried to emigrate from Portugal to the USA, but was not accepted and ended up in São Paulo, Brazil. The story tells about people whose dream does not come true but enjoy the second best.
The French sound-artist Frederique Mathevet was making sound compositions of images from objects in the surroundings. He outlined the piano keys on a transparent sheet and moved this sheet over the objects. The overlap of a piano key on the sheet with a line or dot in the object resulted in the base for scores for a piano.
Anna Ortiz (USA) has a Mexican father. She was using her Mexican roots as a source of inspiration for her paintings, resulting in a fascinating series of drawings and paintings with hints to Mexican mythology. One painting shows Flor, our cat, as an Aztec God. Anna showed her “Portuguese” works in an exhibition: Ruin, in the Royal Society of American Art, Brooklyn, USA (July-August 2019).
Gunnthora Olafsdottir (Iceland) came to write a lay version of her PhD thesis. It is about the appreciation of nature by tourists (with Iceland as a case study) and the therapeutic, destressing potential of nature. She distinguished two types of tourists: those who come see the sublime (and feel enriched and wiser afterwards) and those who come for the adventure (and feel refreshed and stronger afterwards).
Stella Whalley (UK) had her previous residency as a starting point: The fire in the Grennfell tower, and especially her frustration on the lack of compassion of the authorities with the victims. This year she redirected that frustration towards her personal life. This resulted in an impressive series of x-sized banners showing prints of own body in combination of short phrases all starting with “I´m tired of..” or “I´m afraid of …”, followed by words such as fragility, lies, hysteria, misogyny, solitude, animosity, madness, and so on.
Directly after her residency at OBRAS in 2017, the sound artist Aurélie Ferrière (France, currently living in Sweden) stepped on a sailing boat to join for two months a 4-year sailing journey inspired by Magellan’s travels 500 years ago, aimed to understand the state of the oceans from an ecologic, scientific and philosophical point of view. During her ocean tour Aurélie collected sounds of birds, seaweed, waves and insects. On 10 September she gave a concert with her compositions in combination with a laser show at OBRAS on September 10. This concert is now touring through Europe and the USA.
Monique Luchetti (USA) is a bird’s lover or more precisely: she is intrigued by people’s fascination for birds. This is why she explored collections of stuffed birds (partly in the Museum of Natural History in Lisbon). They were collected and conserved for scientific reasons, but partly also for the act of collecting itself. It feels sad that some of those birds are now extinct. Monique made a beautiful series of drawings of conserved birds. Each drawing contains the birds’ species and its date of death.
Elizabeth Murray (Ireland) came to redraft her newest book, her first for adults. It is a dystopian novel, set in a hot climate, post an international global warming disaster. She also wrote several short stories, including one: The Silence of Stones, on a 7000-years old grave near to our house and on what these grave stones have heard during these 7000 years. Elisabeth´s daily schedule included a 3-hours walk during which she collected objects to trigger her inspiration, such as bones and a snake skin but also buttons and crown caps of beer bottles.
Mike Assente (USA) was working on his project Tattoos: short stories, sometimes casual, sometimes vulgar, always in combination with a tiny drawing that reminds to a tattoo.
Being asked what he was making, he generally said “I am Shifting Things”. It is a lifelong project: while traveling he brings and takes small objects from one location to another. He indicated that for instance, a small part of a Roman tile that he found in Italy, is now laying somewhere in Alentejo.
Game designer Andrea Brasch (Denmark, currently living in Berlin) came to do the finishing touch of a project that took seven years. She created a computer game that playfully guides the gamer through issues related to longing, relationships and even the meaning of life. The game is about a creature in the form of a small disk that misses a small segment. The disk runs through the landscape looking for its missing part. It encounters other objects, sometimes not easy to come in contact with, and has nice conversations. But the disk fails in finding its missing part and perfect match. It starts considering whether to be perfect is to be desired.
Zia Soares is artistic director of Griot, a theatre company in Lisbon. She came with Monica Miranda (scenographer) and Nuno Santos (sound engineer) to prepare a film project that is scheduled for September 2020 at OBRAS. Undying Bodies is the title of the movie with around six actors that will be shoot in and around our centre. All actors and staff members are people of colour. Undying Bodies is about how most African cultures experience the decease of some-one. While in Western culture it is mostly a matter of black and white, most African cultures assume it to be a gradual process with interactions between physical, spiritual and societal forces. During the residency in September 2020 the group will grant us an open rehearsal..
Skye Jamieson (Australia) made small minimalist abstract paintings, for which she did endless tests with paper, cardboard, paints, pigments, brush strokes, textures and colours. They seem sensitive studies on less is more: no obvious composition, no trigger for a mood or emotion and no clue on the intention of the artist. And all this makes them intriguing.
Chloé Schemoul (France) recently became full-time writer. She worked on a novel, vaguely auto-biographic, about a young girl that stepwise, story to story, chapter to chapter, grows up and becomes an adult and an artist, even before she realizes it herself. She experiments friendship, religion, society, work and death. Each story is written in a language that refers to the age of the girl. Chloé was working on a self-help book about professional reconversion: Les étapes à suivre pour une réorientation professionnelle réussie. It aims to help making big career changes (like herself: from banker to writer).
Sabine Scholl (Austria, living in Germany) did work on a historical novel, partly an essay, on Jews living in exile. She tells the story of some artists who in WW II escaped Europe (via Portugal) in an attempt to create a new artistic career in New York. She tells about their mixed feelings: the relieve to have survived the holocaust and frustration to be a no-body in their new country.
Cody Healey-Conelly (USA) was working on a combination of sculpture and video animation. With foam he created a hub of oversized milk shake cups, Mac Donald packs, a gun and a car. On its surfaces he projected a 3-minutes video collage of issues in recent American history, including human rights, climate change and alternative facts. It was unique in its formal approach and moving in its content. And it was more than beautiful.
Carolyn Wenning (USA) made a beautiful series of black-and-white drawings, mostly with charcoal and liquid wax. Although largely abstract, the inspiration came from the surrounding pasture and the marble quarries. In addition she made collages with fragments of old books that she found on the farmers market. Carolyn also initiated a highly successful cross-art experiment: she proposed Beate Schnaithmann to improvise on her cello while the other residents were responding by drawing.
Jane Flett (Scotland, living in Berlin) worked on a novel, partly built up of hundred-words fables. It is an epic longform poem about a girl who gets lost in the wilderness. It is inspired by Scottish myths but also on people who are lost during nature trials. The story explores the point that the desire to get away turns into terror once it actually happens. It tells about disintegration of perception and loss of sense of self.
In addition she made short poems. One is a highly original vision on vultures: mothers who feed their babies with bones.
Tetsuya Hori (Japan, currently living in Germany) was working on a piece for cello and scratching stones. The cellist will play on stage while the sound of scratching stones will be heard via a surround sound system with eleven sound boxes.
Together with Ralf Jaroschinski (Germany) who came over for some days, he worked on an arrangement of The Firebird of Igor Stravinsky to be executed in Munich in February 2020.
Rebecca O´Brien (USA) was working on a series of portraits of Amazon Indians. Being anthropologist by education she knew all the threads of their communities. To emphasize the conflict between the romantic ideas of the lay public and the harsh factual life of the Indians, she made the portraits over-glamorous.
Victoria Cattoni (Australia) intends painting intuitively: no goal, no subject, no composition, no reference to another painter… She even corrects herself when she feels that the painting tends to look like something. And indeed her paintings show this intention: they are dreamy, abstract, subtle and intriguing.
Part of her works were shown in November in an exhibition Dandenong Australia.
As an emerging writer, Vincent Kortmann (Holland) is highly successful. He got invitations to write several short stories for a literary magazine, and he got a contract for writing his first novel. So, his residency was filled with work. But he also came for nostalgic reasons: at the start-up of OBRAS-Portugal: fifteen years ago, he was helping us for seven months and six years later he had his wedding at OBRAS. And now he could show the place to his two daughters.
Paul Gagner (USA) used elements of his surroundings to create surrealistic scenes that trigger conflicting moods at the viewer: attraction and defence, joy and fear. He painted for instance the moon shining through the spiny cactus foliage. Another work showed his feet cooling down in the swimming pool while wasps floated on the water surface.
Maureen Drennan (USA) made photos, using her analogue camera for 6×7 cm roll films, of fellow residents and workers of Alentejo. And she started a new project: she photographed elements in nature with an obvious or suggestive reference to sexuality.
For Rob Monaghan (Ireland) organised an exhibition Architecture of Void in the INATEL Gallery in Évora. In 2017 and 2018 Rob explored the abandoned marble quarries with photography, video, collecting “found objects” and by swimming in some of the quarry lakes. Although several more works are exhibited, with no doubt the central piece is a video showing a performance by Phyllis Akinyi, partly staying at the edge of a ravine and partly standing in a lake. Rob created a highly artistic staging and Phyllis made a breath-taking performance. The video has a sound composition by Miguel Noya (Venezuela), who also last year had a residency with us.
Also in the INATEL Gallery, but in another place Katharina Fröschl-Roßboth had an exhibition with photos and some small installations. During several residencies in different countries Katharina made seven photo portraits of 31-years old women. She focused on their daily life and on the feeling of many women that an age of round 31 is a turning point. After the opening of her exhibition Katharina started a new subject for her residency. She was doing research on the role of the father in upbringing a child. She contemplated on his role in society and in the family, which often is made invisible.
Kathy MacLeod (Thailand) is a cartoonist by profession. Every day she worked on her dairy in cartoon style: generally very funny, original and to the point. But her main project was working on a book of about 150 pages, an autobiographical graphic novel, but also a critical essay on her generation. On the surface it tells about misadventures in online dating. Under the surface, however, it’s an exploration of the impossibility of achieving intimacy when pursuing it as a way to escape your demons. It is a story about watching in horror to see the void in personal life keeps getting bigger.
Foundation OBRAS runs an auxiliary residence in Holland. It has an own page on this Resartis website. Residents in 2019 were: Diane O´Dwyer (Australia), Derek Cracco (USA), András Kecskes (Hungary), Sahar Gilani (UK), Xinjian and Shan Du (China, currently living in Canada), Sherry Wiggins (USA) and Luís Branco (Portugal). More information on their projects is on www.obras-art.org and will soon be published on the OBRAS-Holland page of the Resartis website.
General aim of Foundation OBRAS is to provide all space, service and hospitality necessary for effective working on art and science. The contact with the surrounding landscape and culture may provide additional inspiration.
Foundation OBRAS has its principal seat in Portugal and an auxiliary establishment in Holland (for OBRAS-Holland see elsewhere on this resartis website or on www.obras-art.org).
OBRAS-PORTUGAL is located on top of a hill in a magnificent, two centuries old farm, called Herdade da Marmeleira. The Herdade is overlooking a rolling landscape with cork oaks. Its pastures change colors with the seasons. A medieval fortress and timeless tranquility build the scenery.
Due to a careful renovation, the Herdade has preserved its original style. It consists of eight double-bed apartments, two cottages, and five artist-studios ranging in size from 5x5m up to 10x30m. One studio has a piano.
A swimming pool is located on a remote spot hundred meter from the house.
- Independent Association/Foundation
- Weeks: 3
- Months: 1
- Months: 2
- Months: 1 – 3
- Visual Art
- Performing Arts
- Textile Art
- Private accommodation
- Private studio / workplace
- Exhibition space
- Dance/Theatre/Performance Space
- Library/research resources
- Woodworking tools
- Technical assistance
- Family Life