ESTREMOZ NATIVITY SCENE
The material is extra-fine argil (clay) from Estremoz, Alentejo and the model a local version of the Bethlehem nativity scene and the finest example of Portuguese handicraft that dates back to the 18th century. The Estremoz craftsman that created this piece added three Alentejo shepherds to the Wise Men and Holy Family, and they all stand on different levels, not dissimilar to the region’s fountains, which are called “altars”.
This is an old tradition that has been rediscovered, explain the three sisters Flores, Marina and Perpétua, who went to work for Sabina Santos, who owned a potter’s workshop and was highly-skilled at modelling and painting the clay of this region of Portugal. And this famous item from Estremoz is in good hands. The sisters’ workshop produces “traditional figures” and “original figures” (their own creations) for the entire world. As for the nativity scene, it went down a storm at an exhibition in Paris last year. “They sold out. It’s a shame we couldn’t go, but at Christmas we really got our hands full and demand outstrips production”, they state proudly.
Rua da Madalena, 87, Lisboa
It was on a grey winter’s day that Ana Menezes decided to plant flowers in her umbrella: roses, marigolds, dahlias. This is how the then recently-qualified industrial designer’s most famous piece came about four years ago. She kept the prototype and her mother got a replica, then her aunts wanted one and the family became so enthusiastic that Ana decided to sound out the commercial angle in specialist shops.
“I humbly went from shop to shop, starting with Alma Lusa, owned by Ana Sousa Dias [not to be confused with our guest journalist in this edition of UP], who has publicised my work the most.” In 2006, the Flores-de-chuva (Rainflowers) umbrella was selected by the Centro Português de Design (Portuguese Design Centre) to represent the Lisbon shop for exhibitions in Barcelona, London and Milan. “I have clients who collect them, and everywhere I go, people stop me and ask me where I bought it and how much I want for it”, Ana Sousa Dias tell us enthusiastically. Her children have told her she can’t go anywhere with them if she’s carrying the umbrella.
Rua de São Bento, 363-B, Lisbon
By Oriana Alves