HISTORY OF CLAY ART
Between Serra da Gardunha and Serra da Estrela, with a panoramic and exquisite view to the heart of Cova da Beira, Telhado’s parish derives from Zêzere’s orography. Its occupation is remote, supported by inumerous archeological traces including a letter about its occupation, written by the landlord during D. Dinis reign, known before as “Carantonha”.
Pottery has contributed decisively for Telhado’s identity and for the origin of this lands name. In matter effect, this village housed inumerous pottery ovens to this very purpose. During centuries pottery has been the main attraction in this village, providing for many generations of potters and spreading throughout the country Telhado’s pottery tradition. Of uncertain temporal and foundational origins, it was from the 18th century onwards that this community took root in this land, assuming its identification in a toponym indicative of a specialisation in the set of rural communities of Cova da Beira. Porcelain’s production was an activity that was reparted by family members. The potter lived his daily life on the wheel and cooked the porcelain. His wife and children prepared and cleaned the clay, supplied it with water and collected the wood and branches to be used for cooking and selling.
The resting Mondays, the devotion to Nossa Senhora da Rosa, the celebration of Santa Luzia, the words and the sounds of materials and gestures, the colours, the smells and the temperature of the potteries and furnaces become a map of senses and feelings of Telhado’s identity as a land of clay.
CASAS E LUGARES DO SENTIR
Casa do Barro
In 2017, Fundão’s Town Hall and UNESCO celebrated a protocol which originated Centro UNESCO – Rede de Casas e Lugares do Sentir – Casas do Território, a network of houses in different parishes of Fundão, that honours local knowledge and traditions, forming a touristic and educational itinerary for the region.
The territory being like a big common house, it’s a living and conceived space inspired in an experimental ecology, fulfilling the etymological origins of Ecology oîkos, the “house”. Logos, the language and knowledge.
It is precisely to remember this local art that Casa do Barro was created, located in an ancient village palace. Here you can discover the whole pottery process, from raw material extraction – clay, to the burning and cooling, going through intermedium phases of this process, such as shaping, in which the potter’s hands transform the clay into different forms – vases, jugs, bowls and also sculptures.
The visitor can also find old photos showing the era in which Telhado was clay’s capital and catch a glimpse of the old faces and hands that worked it over the decades. Stories, material and photographical evidence of this pottery community, their ancient knowledge and production spaces are all portrayed in here. There is also an interesting collection of ceramics and traditional porcelain lent by local inhabitants, who have embraced and cherished this project. During the visit, we can still observe a potter working the clay in person. Casa do Barro regularly promotes pottery workshops. In addition, Casa do Barro develops some cultural initiatives, such as debates, exhibitions, participation and representation in municipal and national events.
Mayor of Fundão
In an ever-changing world, where the challenges to the promotion and conservation of traditional knowledge arise on a daily basis, resilience and the ability to innovate in tradition is one of the greatest assets of the counties. Therefore, the town of Fundão, bearing in mind the needs, uniqueness and specificities of its surrounding society, assumes the main role of promotion, conservation and preservation of the territory along with its material and immaterial heritage.
This is how the “Casas e Lugares do Sentir” were born – an immaterial structure that houses the existing structures and where all the ancient skills and knowledge coexist within a singular space, which is dynamic and interactive at the same time, available and at the service of everyone. “Casas e Lugares do Sentir” have the UNESCO seal, allowing to understand the true sense of citizenship and therefore feeling of belonging to a community.
Casa do Barrro, which is part of the “Casas e Lugares do Sentir” project, is a fine example of how to preserve the traditional know-how born in Telhado’s community, between Serra da Gardunha and Serra da Estrela with a panoramic and exquisite view to the heart of Cova da Beira. It is possible to know the whole cycle connected to clay, which goes from the extraction of clay in the old Barreiros to the spinning wheel. The times follow the change of the simple and useful ancient pieces produced in the village.
Nowadays Casa do Barro assumes a more contemporary language supported by the creation of Olaria Lab, using 3D impression. It´s a laboratory of experiences, feelings and memories. Through Telhado artists and pottery travellers come and go, sharing their new ideas.
“Escolinha do Barro” it is another educational project we take pride of. Directed specifically towards children, it’s considered a good educational tool of personal development viewing educating foreigners about the deeply rooted clay art in our community. Fundão and Casas e Lugares do Sentir are part of our land and of the district.
Mayor of Fundão