Porto is an ever-inspiring and creative city. But Campanhã area is certainly not the first that comes to a cultural wanderer’s mind. Yet, there is a gem there that I only recently discovered.
A short film festival was my pretext to finally visit Espaço Mira and Mira Forum, two adjacent former warehouses that now work as artistic spaces. One is primarily an art gallery, the other is multi-functional and has a commercial component (offers a possibility to rent the space for book presentations or exhibitions – we all have bills to pay, after all).
I arrived a bit ahead of projection time, knowing that Mira pursues more than one initiative at a time and curious to peek into the exhibition spaces. What a warm welcome we had by Manuela Monteiro, who lead the visitors throughout the ongoing exhibitions! Together with João Lafuente, she created Mira three years ago, in October 2013. They uncovered the potential of the row of abandoned warehouses in Rua de Miraflor, that even played a part in their families history. Former storage spaces for coal and wine were converted into spaces of culture with a lot of respect and sensibility.
One of the current exhibitions in Mira lead me to learn important facts about the cultural landscape of Algarve and the threat of complete eradication it has been exposed to because of the aggressive oil extraction initiatives. The initiatives have been stopped for now, but drawing attention to the problem is of huge importance. With its engagement, Mira gives hope that art may be able to save the world!
Last but not the least, the Mira experience inspired me to share a (holiday) thought: all we need is less.
The world is small, indeed! Many years ago, I discovered an inspiring blog named swissmiss, run by a Swiss lady who lives and works in New York – Tina Roth Eisenberg. I revisit it often, and only now I realized that it has to do with my today’s theme – CreativeMornings! The free monthly breakfasts + interesting talks for the creative community began in 2008, when exactly Tina Roth Eisenberg founded the event in New York. But then, they started spreading around the world and currently 89 cities are “infected”. I am happy that Porto is one of them!
I know it’s the end of September, but my memory of the CreativeMornings edition for July still remains fresh! The theme (common for all the participating cities) was heritage, and the guest speaker was João Rapagão – a professor, a thinker and an architect from Lisbon (but, from what I deduced, teaching here in Porto), dealing mostly with the problems of built patrimony. The site was just right: the CreativeMornings of Porto take place in its Palace of Arts.
The first thing one usually does at CreativeMornings is presenting themselves through a sticker with a name and a personal view to the topic on the table. This time, the question was “Memory and heritage: why preserve?” (it’s me on the photo!).
And then, so many more issues to think and rethink were brought up by João Rapagão:
- “heritage as alibi for the fear of change”;
- “demolition as a way to, actually, give value to heritage in certain cases” (because “there is also old that is bad”!);
- “sense of loss that creates obsession” (this has to do with the non-existent Crystal Palace of Porto);
- the role of foreign architects in Portugal (related to the above mentioned Portuguese fear of change and evolution);
- the question of reuse – “our epoch is just another epoch in the monument’s life”. When conceiving the intervention, one has to keep in mind that current use might not be feasible in the monument’s future and that there has to be room for change.
The summer has passed, and I am still “digesting” these questions! For me, CreativeMorning with João Rapagão was one of the most inspiring mornings since I am in Porto.
Photos: CreativeMornings Porto