Article for RTP Acores Comunidades

Lelia Nunes | Publicado 21 Abr, 2012, 04:46

À Janela-The Poetic Soul”

by Maria Miranda Lawrence

What a joy and feeling of accomplishment to realize my project is now complete! I have just released the first edition of my book entitled “À Janela- the Poetic Soul”.

As the artist/illustrator and author of this book I would like to especially thank the many talented people, whose work and images I am very proud to present to you in this publication.

I was born on the island of São Miguel and was brought up in northern B.C., Canada from the age of three. In 2006 I was awarded the Canadian-Portuguese Copa Award for outstanding achievement in Arts and Culture. My works have appeared in several publications; however this has one has extra special meaning to me. It expresses my journey and perspective in discovering the poetic spirit of Portugal. With every visit and encounter there, I remain in awe of its great features and history.

In 2005, I received an invitation from the Direcção Regional das Comunidades dos Açores to participate in a cultural exchange. During the week of the Construir Cultura conference the participants toured the island of São Miguel, taking in the sights and cultural features. We were entertained by local music, dance, art and film. We were asked to create something from the week long experience in exchange. Our contributions of paintings, photography, poetry, essays and music were published in a book titled “Construir Cultura” (2008).

My choice was to paint a scene from a photo I had taken the previous year while I was visiting a seaside view in Rosário, Lagoa. I recall feeling saddened with the thought it would be a long time before I could return to this island. I spotted two young girls nearby looking out from their window towards the sea. I asked to take their photo, they agreed without changing their expression.

When this painting was nearly completed, a participating poet, José Francisco Costa, raved about how I managed to capture the typical Azorean eyes looking out at sea. The painting reminded him of a line of his poem and I chose this line to be the title of my painting. This poetic connection sparked the idea for the series “À Janela-The Poetic Soul”... more “à janela” paintings with corresponding poetry.

I felt quite motivated to research the possibilities for this project as I have been an admirer of Portuguese music and poetry for many years. Now that it is complete I would like to take the originals and publication on tour to other communities and continue promoting Portuguese spirit.

In 2011 I received a grant for this project from the Direcção Regional das Comunidades dos Açores, to take thirty original paintings to the first –“À Janela – The Poetic Soul” exhibition held at the Câmara Municipal de Lagoa gallery, not far from the place I first captured this image.

This book is presented in English and includes the original Portuguese poetry written by exceptional poets and songwriters – José Francisco Costa, Eduardo Bettencourt Pinto, Carla Cook, Márcio Faraco, José Medeiros, Samuel Lopes, Paulo da Costa and other leading writers of poetry and lyrics.

Each of the singers is presented in their own sections in the book, which includes the Azores and Portugal. I begin with Amalia who graces the cover and is in the introduction of the book, followed by the singers Sara Marreiros, (Suzana da Câmara, Catarina Cardeal from Canada, and Catarina Avelar (Mass. USA), Helena Oliveira (Azores) and the rest in Portugal, Claudia Leal, Ana Laíns, Liana, Ana Moura, Dulce Pontes, Mariza and Cristina Branco. These twelve singers are individually portrayed at least three different ways in paintings "À Janela" - the Portuguese phrase for "at/or by the window". Each painting corresponds to a piece of poetry describing the feeling of the image. The window is used as a metaphor to express the various moods and contrasts of life. The connection to the sea or separation from loved ones has also inspired much of the poetry; as well, the lyrics from rural folk to urban Fado. "À Janela - The Poetic Soul", is a celebration of the collective creative spirit and serves as a tribute to the Poetic Soul in all of us.