It was wonderful to catch up with Jacqueline de Montaigne all about her incredible mural in the Algarve ‘Raizes II’, which celebrates São Brás’ extensive history and heritage.
Jacqueline ranked in the world’s top 100 in urban art, coming in at an impressive 35 and is also the first Portuguese woman to be in the list which she explained “it is exciting seeing I only painted my first mural at 37, 6 years ago.”
Jacqueline works around the world painting ethereal large-scale murals and exhibits her work in fine art galleries. “By the end of this year, I would have painted in 6 countries and exhibited in 4 including Guinea Bissau, Romania and Cape Verde.”
When asked how the project came to fruition, Jacqueline told The Portugal News that “A few years ago, I had been putting up some paste-ups in São Brás which are hand-painted paintings on paper that you apply to walls like publicity posters, someone in the town hall saw me doing this (with my son) and said they had been trying to figure out who had been doing this during the summers as they had wanted to invite the person to do more.
This started meetings with the town hall whose president is a passionate street art appreciator, and from these meetings came an invitation to create a project which is called raizes, meaning roots. I have now painted two murals with another even larger one planned already for 2024.”
Raizes II is inspired by accordionist, Inês Sousa who is part of the local folklore group Rancho Típico Sambrasense. “The beautiful mural shows the accordionist, on a road, lined with olive and almond trees, a typical symbol of the Algarve, a pattern extensively used throughout the mural with 2 almond flowers tucked behind her ear. The gold circle, which is real gold gilding, represents the gold of the olive oil, which was also used in the lamps they used in the same streets to light the roads at night.”
The mural comes following Jacqueline’s previous mural ‘Raizes’, which was unveiled in 2022 and was also inspired by another member of the folklore group, dancer Carlota. “I photographed various elements of the group at the time, deciding then that eventually, I would like to paint another girl in the group who plays the accordion, Inês Sousa.”
Jacqueline then shared her strong connection with the Algarve, “I grew up spending my summers in São Brás de Alportel as my grandparents bought land there the year I was born and built this up over the years. It was also from my summers in the Algarve that I first fell in love with swallows which are consistently present as a symbol/signature in my work as you can see on the ear of the mural in question.”
Jacqueline confided that it has been great reconnecting with her roots, “Painting in São Brás is something I always look forward to as it is one of my soul places where I feel completely at peace, where my grandparents' land and house is full of memories, where we have grown up with the constant of the neighbouring farmers down the hill as have my children who love it as much as I do. Even every corner of the old town is a magical place for me as I have been escaping to São Brás for over 40 years.
So, to paint at this scale and bring my art to a place I love so much is definitely a special experience for me".
What was also particularly sweet was that Jacqueline dedicated the mural to Celeste who was the lovely lady who kindly allowed her to paint her home last year, “she has sent me lovely messages on Facebook ever since. She is extremely proud as is her son who works for the town hall.”
São Brás focuses on Urban Art
The São Brás Câmara expressed that “The municipality of São Brás de Alportel has been focusing on Urban Art in recent years. We believe that Urban Art is an excellent way to bring the community closer to art, to promote cultural development and to value heritage. It is also very important to promote the attractiveness of the territory. We have the blessing of being a land where art germinates... where young talents sprout which is what we like to value most!”
The Vice President of São Brás de Alportel, Marlene Guerreiro, shared “A work of art by Jacqueline de Montaigne that intends to pay homage to the ancestral lessons of nature and which contemplates a tribute to Mother Nature is to the traditions of rurality, and to remember the anonymous work of generations of women who were the light of their homes. Having the opportunity to host works by the artist Jacqueline de Montaigne is an immense privilege that greatly honours the municipality"
Related article: Jacqueline de Montaigne’s Ethereal Urban Art
Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.