When my boyfriend Richard and I went to Lisbon earlier this summer (for the most amazing holiday – port in the sun, beer in the sun, long walks through winding streets, fresh fish and seafood, Radiohead, Santigold, more beer, wine and sun and a coincidental meeting with great friends), I developed a minor obsession with the azulejos, or tiles, that can be seen just about everywhere in the city. This is what I especially like – they are not limited to civic buildings or stately expensive ones, but are as likely to be found on the wall of an apartment building in an out-of-town backstreet as they are covering a monument or museum. The word azulejo derives from the Arabic al zulayj, meaning polished stone – the art of tile-making was brought to Portugal through Moorish and Hispanic influence from the 15th century onward. This is my little cross section, perhaps somewhere to start a future project, but mainly for the satisfaction of lining them up together 🙂
Not tiles, but I loved how the tramlines have pushed their turning circles into the pavement/sidewalk in the city’s narrow old streets. It looks somehow organic.
The use of tiles became widespread initially as they were used to replace woven and embroidered cloth to cover altar frontals. There is a resonance between embroidered textiles and these painted tiles as the artisans emulated textile patterns and embellishments such as tassels and fringing in their designs.
Catherine of Bragança crossing the river, Lisbon, c. 1662
Welcoming Shadow (1980-90) by contemporary artist Lourdes Castro
Tile panel (1998) by Ivan Chermayeff. This piece is a copy of some of the stencilled tile work covering the Lisbon Oceanarium at Parque das Nações.
Have you seen any cool tile work you want to share? Also if I’ve got any facts wrong (very possible) then please correct me!