Installation for Projecto Travessa da Ermida
Lisbon, 2009 

Photo credits: FGSG Fernando Guerra + Sérgio Guerra

 They sing, chirp, tweet, cheep, peep, chit, chirr, warble, trill… many swallows produce a lot of sound, but their sound is more like a pleasant rumor. One that announces the arrival of mild weather and flowers. Aristotle used to say that “one swallow won’t make Spring”, but when many can be spotted, then it’s a clear sign that the cold days are over.
They come over from Africa on a 20000 km journey returning to the eave where they were born. Always.
Sang, declaimed and perpetuated in clay sculptures that we scatter around our homes, the clay swallow is part of our culture and collective memory. The first record of decorative clay swallows dates back to 1891 and belongs to Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro. Different versions followed the first one, and since then they became a treasured token of the Portuguese Spring used for embellishing facades, chimneys and balconies here and there all over the country. They are like a signal indicating those arriving from afar where to build their nest. A yearly memory cheering up the ones missing the warmer days.

Photo credits: FGSG Fernando Guerra + Sérgio GuerraPhoto credits: FGSG Fernando Guerra + Sérgio GuerraPhoto credits: FGSG Fernando Guerra + Sérgio Guerra

 Invited by Spring and by Ermida Nª Srª da Conceição, studio Pedrita has crafted a special celebration for Spring 09 inviting 2000 clay swallows to return to Lisbon. A custom edition was specially produced by Bordalo Pinheiro using their original mold, and with a painted finishing developed specifically for the case of this installation. The swallows are scattered along Travessa do Marta Pinto indicating the way to Ermida, where they finally gather together on a scenic moment against the building’s facade, revealing it to the passersby and remembering everyone about the charms of the season.
This is a project as we like doing them… simple. Working on it during a particularly cold winter, this project is filled with references to the Portuguese folk culture, and relates to the working tradition and highly relevant heritage of Bordalo Pinheiro that we hereby duly remember. We would also like this project to be an omen to better days ahead. A sign of joy and hope in a pessimistic and indolent country.
The installation opened to the public on the first day of Spring, March 21st, 2009, in ensemble with the work of João Noutel “Giant, The Voyeur Project”. By an happy coincidence, on the same date it is celebrated the 163 anniversary of the birth of the acclaimed illustrator, cartoonist, sculptor and ceramist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro.
Ermida Nª Srª da Conceição is a cultural project aimed at promoting the city area of Belém and the work of young artists of different working fields. Opened for the first time on 24 July 2008, it has exhibited the work of artists such as Rui Chafes, João Maria Gusmão, Pedro Paiva, Albuquerque Mendes, Miguel Palma and R2.
The swallows of Bordalo Pinheiro can be bought in the shop “A Vida Portuguesa”, which since 2006 sells a bluish black re-edition according to the original mold of Bordalo Pinheiro, that represent the most beautiful and steadfast Portuguese swallows.

Photo credits: FGSG Fernando Guerra + Sérgio Guerra Photo credits: FGSG Fernando Guerra + Sérgio Guerra Photo credits: FGSG Fernando Guerra + Sérgio Guerra

 Production assistant

Catarina Violante

Special thanks
Elsa Rebelo
João Ricardo
(Faianças Artísticas Bordalo Pinheiro)

Very Special thanks
Gonçalo Prudêncio

FG+SG Fernando Guerra + Sérgio Guerra