Portugal 2000: A Voyage of Discovery
© Bob Tope, 1999
"Portugal 2000 is a national event." Pedro said as we sat overlooking beautiful Lisbon, sipping expresso. "The federal governments Ministries of Art, Culture and Environment are each providing generous support for our conference. The ministers or their representatives will attend our opening ceremonies which will also be nationally televised." As coordinator of our conference Pedro Salgado and his committee of five are making an extraordinary and tireless effort to promote the Guild and our members work. "The city council of Lisbon has donated space in one of the public buildings on the Praça do Comércio (Plaza of Commerce) for one of our exhibitions." This plaza fronts the Tejo River and is flanked by the main arched gateway to the city, a very impressive place. Pedro continued. "And they have agreed to publish a color catalog of the exhibition at their expense, worth nearly $25,000.00." My eyes widened to the size of expresso cups at the generosity that was pouring forth from governmental agencies, institutions, commercial and private companies and individual citizens who have stepped forward to volunteer in whatever way they can. This tremendous support is what makes it possible to have a luxurious conference at fees similar to other conferences in the past. Indeed the hearts of the Portuguese people have opened up to receive the Guild in royal fashioneven our members exhibit will hang in the Royal Palace of King Dom Manuel in Évora. This extraordinary conference is not to be missed!
Pedro and his wife Sonia Francisco, also one of the committee of five, recently invited me to travel to Portugal and visit the sites where our core conference, exhibitions, workshops, and field trips will be held next summer. "Come with an open mind and be flexible." He said. I did both. Now with over 100 pages of notes, more than 1000 transparencies, twenty hours of video, and a lifetime of memories I have to distil it into a short article. Okay, in a word, "Fantastic!"
But you need to know more
Nearly all of our core conference activities will occur within the city walls and are easily accessed by walking. Most of the streets are narrow and winding making driving difficult and parking nearly impossible. Plan to park outside the city walls and walk in if you must drive at all. (You really wont need a car during the core conference unless you plan to stay outside of Évora. And if you rent, rent a small car!)
(The following activities and locations appear in the order in which they occur during the conference. All exhibits will open on the first date listed, although times will vary.)
Universidade de Évora (July 30 - August 4): Established in 1559 as the Jesuits Colégio do Espírito Santo it thrived until 1759 when it closed after the Jesuits were banished from Portugal. The nearly 500 year-old University is graciously hosting our Core Conference. (No classes will be in session during our stay.) We will be centrally located for all classes and workshops within the Italian Renaissance buildings surrounding a common plaza with a sculpted fountain (Central Courtyard).
GNSI HQ, Registration, and Breakout Room (Open throughout the core conference): This remarkable room like many rooms in buildings in Portugal is lined with azulejos (exquisite hand painted ceramic tiles, many of which tell stories). It is located just off the central courtyard and will be open throughout the core conference serving as the location where we may find our administrative assistant, Leslie Becker. It is the room in which we will register, leave and retrieve messages or simply hangout. There will be snacks, beverages (including free Portuguese red wine) and Portuguese music.
Portfolio Sharing (July 30, evening): A fine hall, which during the school year serves as an exam room lined with marble top tables has been reserved for this event. It will be perfect for laying out portfolios with plenty of space to circulate. Wine, cheese and bread will be available.
Ana Isabel Catalão (July 30October 31): Photojournalist and Portugals foremost photographer of reptiles and amphibians, Ana Isabel Catalão will hold a one-woman exhibit of her extraordinary images. Universidade de Évora.
Auditorium (July 31, morning): A beautiful 360-seat state-of-the-art auditorium will serve us for our opening address and keynote speaker (this will be nationally televised). The auditorium will be available for other functions as needed. Beneath the auditorium is a restaurant/bar where food and drink will be available.
Central Courtyard: The rectangular courtyard is central to all core conference activities. The group photo will be taken here and Pedro has a surprise for just how that will be done. The largest frog in Portugal is also known to reside in this plaza. See if you can find it and get a photo.
Classrooms: A number of classrooms in varying sizes have been set aside for our use. Each of these open onto the central court and offer easy access from one to the next. As with nearly all of the rooms at the university the classrooms have beautiful hand painted tiles lining the lower walls. Each room has a carved professorial pulpit for those who feel like getting up in the world when they give their presentation. And if you need the lights out for slides, the windows have total light blocking shutters to assure that your slides are not washed out. Modern desks and chairs will accommodate the audience.
Members Exhibit at the Palace of King Dom Manuel (July 31 - October 31): ALL Members should participate in this ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME opportunity. What better chance do you have to hang your work in a kings palace? Folks, this is not our usual gallery. We are talking ornate, high class, premium space for your work. It is the showcase of Évora at the height of tourist season. Need I say more? Start creating that special piece to send over. What? Shipping rates too high? Would you like to save costs? OK, Pedro is offering that all works accepted by the jury and hand delivered ready to hang by Sunday, July 30, 2000 to the Guilds registration desk will be hung in time for the opening of the exhibit on Monday. See you just saved a hundred bucks or so!
John Cody (July 31 - October 31, opening July 31, evening): A second exhibit, a one-man show honoring the work of John Cody will also be presented at the royal palace.
Poster Session Court Yard (July 31 - October 31): An enclosed smaller courtyard centered on a garden has been selected as the site for our poster session. The covered arched walkway will be perfect for displaying poster presentations and afford plenty of cooling shade.
Monsaraz Field Trip - For everyone-August 1, late afternoon - evening): Well board buses and journey to the frontier with Spain and the nearly 2000 year-old walled village of Monsaraz with its 700 year old castle for a spectacular evening and cookout. The castle will be the site for our Bar-B-Q as we watch the sunset turn the white stuccoed buildings of Monsaraz to gold. Folks, towns dont come much prettier than this. Load your cameras then come load your belly. Were in for a wonderful treat.
Sudoeste Alentejano e Coasta Vicentina Natural Parque: Field Trip 1: August 2 (6:30 AM-7 PM) Explore the diverse, rugged and wild SW coast of Portugal. Coasta Vicentina Natural Park offers unparalleled vistas of a truly wild coastline. Towering cliffs dropping hundreds of feet into the sea. Vast stretches of pristine empty beaches, rich inter-tidal ecosystems, geomorphology exposed like a petrified textbook, rare plants and animals including fox and lynx. This is a paradise for bird watchers, nature lovers, artists, photographers and soul searchers. For all the world-class discoveries credited to Portuguese explorers through the centuries, thankfully a stunning part of Portugal was left for us to discover. Includes a light lunch.
Reserva Natural do Estuário Sado (Sado Estuary Natural Reservation Field Trip 2: August 2 (6:30 AM-7 PM) Explore the Rio Sado ecosystems west of Évora, and discover quaint traditional fishing villages, salt pans, and riparian habitats. An abundance of birds including the Perna-Longa, flamingo, a variety of herons and egrets, white storks and the raptor, Águia-Saperia. One might also see dolphins and sea otters. The beauty of this area comes in its tranquil simplicity. Includes a light lunch.
Informal International Ball, Praça do Giraldo, Évora (August 2, evening): A sculpted marble fountain dated 1556 serves as the centerpiece at one end of the ancient cobblestone plaza that once saw the beheading of the Duke of Bragança in 1483, and an Inquisitional burning in 1573. Surrounded by graceful Moorish arcades and centuries old buildings with the true character of a European village this now more peaceful plaza will serve as the perfect site for our International Ball. Live music featuring traditional and folk songs from all over Europe will be played as the band members offer guidance and instruction on performing the dances. This should be great fun for members and families alike. Informal means anything goes from shorts to skirts, but leave the jackets and ties at home!
Serra de S. Mamede Natural Parque (S. Memede Mountains Natural Park): Field Trip 3: August 3 (7 AM1 PM) Northeast of Évora tracing the boarder of Spain this mountainous natural park embraces both ancient villages and castles as well as rugged wild landscapes. The environment has a rich diversity of both plant and animal life. It is composed of both Atlantic forests and Mediterranean bush ecosystems. So step back in time to a medieval world and experience Portugals wilderness frontier with Spain at its best.
Évora Countryside: Field Trip 4: August 3 (3 PM-7 PM) Tour cultural, historic, and pre-historic sites in the beautiful rolling countryside surrounding Évora including some of the following: the mysterious 4,000-6,000 year old pedras talhas (hewn stones). Older still are the cave paintings at Grutas do Escoural, believed to be between 15,000 and 20,000 years old. In addition there are the 95 stones at Cromlech of Almendres thought to be a solar temple. Dolmens also exist in this agriculturally rich area.
Lights! Donations! AUCTION! (August 3, evening): The annual GNSI auction, both silent and live(ly), will take place on Thursday night in the same room as the portfolio sharing. These tables will also be great for the silent auction. When it comes to the live auction, look out! John Norton and the MC will be sharing a finely carved professors pulpit raised up on one wall. A perfect setting for the antics of the auction. Bring along works or supplies to contribute, or perhaps a local item youd like to donate. And be ready to bid for the bargains. This is Europe after all and who knows? You might come home with a Rembrandt (paint set).
Évora after hours: Évora is blessed with a host of fine eateries, scattered around town. But dont go looking for McDonalds, thankfully Ronald has never breached the castle walls. For those of you who never sleep you will be pleased to find that Évora never sleeps either. Dinner often starts after 9 and can last past midnight. (Of course you can eat anytime you would like.) Then its on to one of the taverns or bars for a drink or two. But these are not boisterous bars like in the US. Somehow they seem more civil. And at least one dance club that we dropped into at 1:30AM was almost empty. It seems dancing begins at 2 or 3AM! (Even wondering around the dark narrow streets of Évora in the small hours of the morning we felt safe. But the wise always stay alert.)
Vale do Guadiana Natural Parque (Guadiana Valley Natural Park): Field Trip 5: August 4 (6:30 AM-7 PM) The Rio Guadiana creates the southeast border between Portugal and Spain as it winds its way south to the Golfo de Cádiz. Centered on the ancient village of Mértola with its historic castle Guadiana Natural Park offers a uniquely rugged landscape with interesting geologic formations, waterfalls, and a variety of plant and animal life. Includes a light lunch.
The City of Évora Walking Tour: Field Trip 6: August 4 (5 PM8 PM) Touring the historic and cultural sites inside the city walls of Évora including a visit to the Roman temple, the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Francis and the intriguing Chapel of Bones and many other places of interest.
Oceanário de Lisboa: (August 4, evening) Designed and constructed as part of Expo 98 Lisbons world class oceanarium ranks among the top five in the world. Director Paulo Serra Lopes will open the doors to the Guild for a private tour of this fabulous facility. Built along the north shore of the Tejo River in the ultra-modern venue of the Expo, the newest entry in the world of oceanariums takes full advantage of the latest technologies and innovations in design to make each exhibit as informational and approachable as possible. The habitats are so well created that at times you feel as if you are apart of it. The show continues with a back-stage tour of the computers and systems that keep the oceanarium operating like Mother Nature herself.
Ray Troll (August 4-October 31): While we are at the Oceanarium we will open a one-man show featuring the creative, fun and imaginative work of Ray Troll, last years key note speaker. I wonder if we will all be dancing to the fossil record? (Tentative)
500 years of Scientific Illustration in Portugal (August 5-October 31): The exhibit will feature botanical, zoological, and paleontological illustration among others from the first described species gathered by Portuguese explorers in Africa, India and South America to the present. Several prestigious museums have offered portions of their collections for this exhibition including the Museum of Natural History, Lisbon Museum of Botany and the Lisbon Museum of Geology. This exhibit is being generously sponsored by Lisbons City council who is providing the exhibition hall and covering the $25,000.00 cost of printing a color catalog of the exhibition. This is a rare opportunity to see such a vast collection of original historic scientific art.
Alfredo da Coceição (August 5-October 31): One-man show. A retrospective honoring 81 year-old Alfredos life-long work as scientific illustrator for Portugals Nature Conservancy Institute.
Medical Illustration (August 5-October 31): Max Brodel, a retrospective along with works by various United States medical illustration program staff and by individual invitation.
Non-scientific Animal Art (August 5-October 31): Works by other artists who dip their brushes into the animal kingdom.
Mural (August 5-6, times to be announced): A Ray Troll/Pedro Salgado concept to be painted by groups of Guild members. Space generously donated by Lisbon City Council. (This will be fun!)
Core Conference Banquet, Castelo de São Jorge (August 5, evening): Begun in the 5th century and later added to by the Moors and still later the Christians the ancient castle offers a commanding and beautiful view of Lisbon and the Tejo River. Join us as the evening sun goes down and the lights of Lisbon come up. The City of Lisbon and Castelo de São Jorge will host our banquet featuring a wide assortment of foods and wines from many regions of Portugal. This would be a charming place to end the fairytale adventure known as the core conference of Portugal 2000: A Voyage of Discovery, but there is still more to discover
Estuário do Tejo Natural Parque (Tejo Estuary Natural Park): Field Trip 7: August 6 (8 AM-7 PM) Just east of Lisbon is a tidal estuary preserved as a natural park, a year-round gathering place for many shore and wadding birds. The area is also attractive to those who enjoy the scenic quality of traditional fishing villages and farms. Includes a light lunch.
Parque Natural da Arrábida (Arrábida Natural Park): Field Trip 8: August 6 (8 AM-7 PM) Along the north shore of the Baia de Sestúbal lays a unique natural park with nearly 1000 species of plants, butterflies, beetles and birds normally found only in the Mediterranean. But they are living here due to the unique climate and geography. Just an hour south of Lisbon palm trees sway in the breeze, lush forests and a rugged coast await you. Texugo, a Portuguese badger-like animal, Lynx and several birds of pray including the Peneireirofalcon may be found here. For those who like to spice-up their nature walks with a touch of culture, you will find beautiful white washed windmills, villages, churches, and shrines. If you head farther west to Cabo Espichel you will find a wonderful lighthouse and a very enchanting church, monastery, and small Moorish temple all perched on the edge of a five hundred-foot cliff. Includes a light lunch.
Parque Natural da Sintra-Cascais (Sintra-Cascais Natural Park): Field Trip 9: August 6 (8 AM7 PM) The western most point of Europe, Cabo da Roca resides in fine mix of nature, culture, and history. Perhaps one of Portugals oldest and most beloved regions this compact yet diverse region has something for everyone. From the tiny resort town of Cascais at the mouth of the Rio Tejo to the castle topped mountains in Sintra you will be using up your quota of "ooo"s and "ahhh"s. Long a favored resort of kings and the wealthy the countryside is dotted with fine homes and palaces. However, the natural splendor and charm has not been lost to development. There are plenty of open wild coasts with fine beaches, tide pools to explore. But consider too a hike through the moss covered ruins of the Moorish castle overlooking Sintra. The romance of the place might just overwhelm you.
Footloose in Lisbon, a Walking Tour: Field Trip 10: August 6 (Half-day tours, morning and afternoon) Tour the historic and cultural sites in Lisbon. A local individual who is well versed in history, art and architecture will guide you on this field trip. You cant hire a better guide for a more personable tour. Enjoy Gothic and Romanesque cathedrals like the Sé. Walk the tiny twisting cobble streets of pre-earthquake (1755) Moorish Graça. Ride a classic trolley car. Get a lift on the Elevador de Santa Justa. Visit Praça do Comércio in the heart of Lisbon and the triumphal arch symbolizing the gateway to the city. (Although the actual tour destinations will be similar to this list. These are simply samples.)
Marine Laboratory at Sines (August 6): The University of Evoras Marine Sciences Laboratory at Sines will offer its facility, lab equipment and low cost housing to those who want to study the flora and fauna of Portugals coastal ecosystem. (Sines is located halfway between Lisbon and Sagres)
Oceans:Illustrating Marine Life (August 7-October 31): Fortaleza de Sagres, site of the worlds first school of navigation built by Henry the Navagator, will also be the site of an exhibition featuring the work of marine biology artists.
Farewell banquet: (August 7, evening) Fittingly Portugal 2000: A Voyage of Discovery will hold its farewell banquet at Forte do Beliche, near the point of departure for so many scientific voyages of discovery through the centuries. Now we are the voyagers. Enriched with new discoveries and renewed inspiration, each of us will travel with newfound knowledge and skills as we embark from Sagres and journey to the far reaches of the globe. We are now on our own personal voyages of discovery as we endeavor to perfect the art of scientific illustration.
Field Sketching near Sagres (August 8-10): This will be lead by Jenny Keller and Pedro Salgado (Got your attention, huh!) Jenny will be primarily sketching on land while Pedro puts on flippers, mask and tanks and works with his group while diving underwater. Yep, you MUST be a certified diver and present your dive certification card and dive log in order to dive with Pedro. This is not the time nor place for open water checkouts. But even if you dont happen to be a diver-most members are not-there is plenty of beauty to be found all around. The location is remote and spectacular! Join Jenny on hikes along the rugged coastline with towering cliffs, tiny untrod beaches, emerald coves and miles of wild land all beckoning the creative spirit. Beaches are a-la-natural if that spirit moves you as well.
As I said early on, in a word, "Fantastic!"
© 2000 GNSI - Guild of Natural Science Illustrators - All rights