– I’m coming NOW! – I felt more than excited when my portuguese friend, that shares passion for ceramics in particular and arts in general, told me about Caldas Late Night. I’ve become familiar with the art scene of Porto, which I admired for unique style and the feel of quality graphic design everywhere, including metro map; so now the discovery of a contemporary art village seemed specially entreaguing.
Caldas da Rainha means a “Queen´s Spa”. It is located north of Lisbon, close to the coast, an hour away from the portuguese capital. According to the legend, the Queen Leonor, consort of King Joao II founded the thermal hospital in the town at the end of the 15th century. She decided to do this after discovering the therapeutic benefits of the sulphur-rich waters, that now became famous for treating skin. Some people say that this is thought to be the first spa-hospital in the world.
I went there with Boleia – the portuguese ride-sharing group, and the guy that took me was a real astrologist and by real I mean that he would make a living from telling people the advice on their lives according to the stars. On skype. This little detail covered everything in a shade of surrealism even before I entered the town, adopting my mind to the unpredictability of our days.
One of the central squares was called Praça Das Frutas – The Fruits Square. It was full of fruits and the fruits were sweet as if someone would have sprayed some sugar inside. I was eating them sitting at the cafe and realizing that I had no idea about how all this event would look like and how should I try to pop in. I only new the keywords, but no structure nor schedules.
I wrote to a facebook group of Caldas Late Night, sending a link to my blog, online shop and a portfolio, asking if I could participate. The only thing I knew was that the whole city had to be transformed into a hand-made contemporary art museum during three days and three nights. They got back to me, saying that I was very welcome. Later on few people told me different hours of the event opening and I got lost in time and space; the space and time were great, so I didn´t mind.
As soon as I arrived to my couchsurfing host, she gave me the booklet with a programme. Without searching for anything in particular, I stumbled upon something, that looked like nothing but my brand name. This found me totally unprepared but made me scream and jump.
“Does this thing literally mean that now everyone who is getting this programme is going to see my jewelry brand name and the indication of how to get to my stand?”. This wouldn´t fit in my head. There was a street name and a number 28. So I went there.
Apparently there was a little shop inside the shopping center just for Lostrego. The shop director came to ask me how many tables and what kind of lights did I need.
I have spent the whole day talking to people that visited my shop and everyone was surprised that I was a foreigner. I got to know that usually, the event is organized by art students and most of the people that expose their creations were the ones that live and study in Caldas da Rainha. It was not so usual that some people from other cities or countries would come to participate as artists.
The city is famous for art faculties and ceramic culture.
After selling in the shop, I went to a bar where a friend, that told me about the whole event, invited me. he introduced me to the bar owner and asked if I could use couple of tables to expose and sell my jewelry. The owner seemed to be happy about that. So I stayed there, accepting beers, coffee´s, snacks and payments, practicing my portuguese and watching people.
The event was an inspiration. Old factories, streets and shopping centers were converted into a huge contemporary art festival. There were performances and exhibitions. You could buy sculptures, stickers, jewelry, drawings, enjoy the innovative design and touch everything; talk to the creators and get overwhelmed by colors and shapes, the eternity of concepts and ideas. All you needed was a good filter that would help not to get lost among all this.
The city itself seemed like someone ´s dream, that you secretly entered, by confusing the door, but now you didn´t want to get out. I knew that when I would leave it, it wouldn´t seem to have been real at all. The tiles of soft colors and clouds, tiny streets with cats and dogs and flowers in the balconies. It all looked like a decoration for a toy-house or marriage-cake.
To get a ride back to reality after three days, I was literally waiting on the road forever. But the kind man that finally took me, gave me a bag of cherries.