February 28, 2009


I could hold her in one of my hands when we found her, she lived with us for around 5 months found her this morning downstairs....

February 25, 2009

portrait sketches

February 19, 2009

craft portraits 2

This portrait from an old woman from the fishing village of R'gueiba in the National park of the Banc d'Arguin, was done a couple of years ago. I was interested in all the necklaces she was wearing and which I could see while she went about her daily activities. I asked to take a photograph and as she was getting ready for it, covering herself up and sitting upright, I told her that I really wanted to have her necklaces. She opened the veil for the photo and when back in Nouakchott I painted this portrait.

necklace woman, acrylic on craft paper, 1.22 x 0.92 cm

From all the portraits I've been doing since 2005 its the one I took further in a realistic way. I made a decision that that was not the way I wanted to go and that I rather do things that looked like a sketch or half finished.
But I didn't want to part with this lady, so I exhibit it in Nouakchott but didn't put her up for sale and she is now in Portugal in my mothers place.
For great photos of the exhibition at the French Cultural Center in Nouakchott check: www.thisfabtrek.com/journey/africa/mauritania/20061106-nouakchott.php

February 15, 2009

The Island of Gorée, Dakar

Dakar is the capital of Senegal in West Africa, A country that borders the Atlantique Ocean but also Mauritania, Gambia, Guiné-Bissau and Mali. A busy capital with a melting pot of nacionalities. Trying to get away and finding quiet spots is not hard though. Close by to Dakar's train station you'll find the port where boats depart regularly to the Island of Gorée.

You get a small ferry boat to get from mainland Dakar to Goréee, locals call it "chaloupe", it takes less than 20 minutes and people commute to and from work using it.

Gorée is part of the "World Heritage" and were the habitants of the Island that got together to recuperate all the beautiful buildings of the Island that time was eroding. There are no cars or other engine veihicles in the island and in a leisure afternoon stroll you get to see the whole of it.

As you approach it , the red tiled roofs and colors you can see from far away start making you eager to discover this beauty.

Her past its tainted, though, as Gorée was one of the places used to send slaves to the new world.

Getting lost in its alley ways is a pleasure for the eyes and after busy and noise Dakar, Gorée is like a balm.

You'll find plenty of places serving food from classy to home made meals, for all pockets.
The Island elevates (it was an old volcano) and you can reach its top by walking along a winding stone paved road surrounded by street sellers. An enormeous amount of souvenirs are made of local paintings that repeat themselves in some well known Senegaleses styles.

Your reward after venturing in this shopping ascent are the magnificents vues of Gorée tiled roofs and Dakar cityscapes surrounded by the sea.

Marie-José Crespin, an activist for the proctetion and promotion of Gorée is part of the comité that organises every year the Festivel "Regards sur cours"
http://www.goree-regards-sur-cours.org/2008/index.html, where artistes are invited to present their work within the gardens or patios of the houses that are normally closed to the public. She 's a well known Dakaroise figure.

Her family's house is a museum harbouring all the pieces that she collected in her travels, her own jellerewy creations and during the Festival some of the best comtenporary artistes of Senegal like Solly Cisse http://www.africancontemporary.com/Soly%20Cisse.htm, a contemporary painter of international aclaim. in the basement you can still visit the old quarters and cells used to keep the slaves before they boarded the ships taking them away to the Americas.

February 11, 2009

Lebou fishing vilage within Dakar, Senegal

I was told to visit this place by the seaside in Dakar, Yoff. Its a fishing village within the city and the people living here are from the african ethnie Lebou. koña, the young woman above came to say hello and asked me to draw her, a rare thing as women can be really shy.

I didn't draw the village itself but was more interested in all the activity that was going on infront of it in the beach. Horses were being washed and they would roll in the sand to dry themselves, others that were still attached to carts were picking fights. A man was selling "cola" nuts.

Children were approaching and asking to be drawn as well, like the twins on the left with their stylish hair cut or the little girls that kept going. Draw me ! draw me !

"pirogues" kept arriving with fish that was taken to the horse pulled carts. Some people protected themselves from the heat with big colorful umbrellas.

Woman will get the fish from the "pirogues" ( maybe their husbands or family) and put it in big buckets or cold boxes and they would start selling it in the beach. As the sun moved across the sky and the heat started to diminish more people started arriving looking to buy fresh fish.

February 08, 2009

landscape paintings 2

I was invited last year to exhibit in the Island of Gorée, Dakar, Senegal as part of their yearly Festival "Regards sur cours". 2008 was also the Biennal of Dakar, "Dakar'art", and the artistes at Gorée where included in the OFF from the Biennal.
Gorée is a small island just facing Dakar and part of this big metropolis. There are no cars and bikes in the island and people take a ferry to get to work and back. A small pearl. But also known for being one of the places from where slaves departed to the Americas.
http://www.goree-regards-sur-cours.org/2007/index.html (worth just looking to see the magnificent gardens and interiors we got to exhibit in ).
I made 18 small landscapes, 20 x 20 x 4 cm, acrylic on paper mounted on board. Those five were reserved before I departed to Dakar, so they travelled back and forth. They're now in Portugal as the person never came back for them.

February 05, 2009

drinking tea with the moors

Tea was introduced in Mauritania in the XIX century by the tribes of the Ouled Bou Sba, who also introduced the first riffles.

It is green tea that comes all the way from China and that's drunk from morning to night. In the early days only men drunk it as it was expensive and hard to find. Nowadays no one goes without.
You'll have it for breakfast and will be the last thing you drink before going to sleep. Any occasion is an occasion to make tea.
Its served in three turns in very small glasses. If you're only offered a glass take it as you're not welcome. If you came to visit after the third glass you'll wait for the tea maker to clean its tray and gear and then you leave.
If serving the three glasses seems to go on for hours it means that you're really welcome and conversation is flowing. On the other hand if the three glasses are served in a record time, better leave.
You boil the water, (check what they use from the drawings; gas bottle, charcoal, wood, electric heater, favourite a charcoal fire) add the tea, brew, bring it up to boil, take it, add sugar, mix and taste by pouring it to the glasses and back to the tea pot, back to the fire, take it out add fresh mint or special herbs, let brew and serve. That's the first glass.
At the saharawi refugee camps they used to make a special one where water was substituted by camels milk or milk and special herbs added. Its supposed to help you with the cold, it was delicious.
The glasses have a kind of cappuccino froth that's achieved by pouring tea from a glass held at a height into a glass on the tray, these movement has to be done for a while in order to achieve a nice looking froth. You keep changing glass, let's say you have three glasses and you pour from one to another to another and so on. Each time you place the empty glass on the tray there is a small glass touching metal noise, this noise will repeat itself at regular intervals and when I stay with a family in a village, that's my wake up call.
For the second glass you'll just pour fresh water into what's left and when it boils you add sugar and before you leave it to brew you add the fresh mint.

For the third glass you add less sugar and its the softer glass, tea is not as strong
If you get into the habit of drinking this small glasses that are quite addictive (once you've overcome your first reactions of aversion because they can be really sweet) you'll suffer like the locals of bad headaches if you don't drink tea in the morning or during the day.

And worse you can stay really letargic untill the second serving of tea that happens usually around 11 am.
So you have the first three glasses for breakfast, second one at around 11 am, third one after lunch, a fourth one around 5 pm, another round before or after dinner, those are the set ones. Then if there are visitors you'll have to bring the tea set and start from zero.

Do I drink all those teas? I would have my heart banging if I consumed so much, people here are used to them a bit like us with strong coffee, remember how your first expresso got you on a high?
I love them sometimes I just go to my neighbours to drink it but if staying in a village I'll avoid drinking a round after 5pm.