Porto, the city of the camellias, inspires amazing artwork

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The camellia is the flower of Porto; it was brought from England in the beginning of the nineteenth century and now it wins its place in the city’s street artwork, namely in a mural in Rua Antero de Quental and in an art installation that invites passervbys to share the collective memory of the quintessential flower of the Invicta. Porto City Hall invited urban artist Third and the architect duo FAHR021.3 to pay a tribute to the camellia. This is what they did.

There is an entire mural that fully displays this polished and refined flower, the camellia, which came from Southeast Asia, namely from countries stretching from China to Japan, was cultivated in the gardens of China and Japan for centuries before they were seen in Europe. Now, it is a sight of enjoyment that is planted in the side of the municipal building, at the crossing of Rua Antero de Quental and Rua de Damião de Góis.

Nuno Palha, aka Third, the artist from Porto that was chosen to paint his perception of this polished and refined flower in the mural at Rua Antero de Quental, states that the painting themed “Casa das Camélias”, represents the affection by the people of Porto to this flower. “The image I have created represents the house of someone in love with camellias, so this indoor image also goes outside. The sky opening, the swallows refer to springtime, and I wanted them to be a sort of invitation to the lifting of lockdown, when people can come here and appreciate this work”. In the meantime, Third is happy to see people driving by and bust in a huge smile to the sight of the mural.

The artist also explains that he seeks to combine colours and choose an environment that “pleases the largest possible number of people”, even because the main purpose of this work is “to create something that people can enjoy”.

The mural on the side wall of the building at Antero de Quental is part of Porto Urban Art Programme. This was the best way to “celebrate and bring back the camellias to Porto, in such unprecedented times”, as stated by Porto City Hall councillor for Youth and Sports, Catarina Araújo.

In the iconic garden of Marques de Oliveira, also known as Jardim de São Lázaro, people can appreciate an installation by the collective FAHR 021.3. These days, this temporary artwork is joining the already blooming camellias that surround that garden.

Both artists, also architects by trade, Filipa Almeida and Hugo Reis, have created an object inspired by the shape of the camellia’s petals in order to keep a 200 year long tradition alive in Porto. “The idea is very much this celebration of Porto as the city of the camellias; it was all about taking the literal meaning of this symbol and reshape it, somehow, in a space devoted to enjoyment and leisure”, explains Hugo Reis.

In the centre of the garden, those who cross the entrance gates can immediately perceive this artwork. “It is a concentric design that inspires this idea of reunion, all the more important in such times we are living. Gardens perform a relevant role, as they draw people together, to celebrate flowers, colours and all the joy they can stimulate”, further explain Hugo Reis.

As for Filipa Almeida, the goal of the installation is to “provide a stage to the people, so they can perform, as well, and the piece is not conclude by us, but also by the work and the will of the people”.

The work was created for the enjoyment of people of all ages, and the most important thing is that it is “interpreted and approached” by children and grown-ups alike, “they can get carried away, climb on it, sit on it and even decorate it. Anything goes”, the artists launch the challenge.

The installation is placed in the Jardim de São Lázaro until the end of June and then it will be permanently placed in the Jardim do Parque de São Roque.

Both artworks are the result of the invitation launched by the Municipality of Porto to the three artists, as it was not possible to hold the traditional Camellia Exhibition.

“We could not do without the celebration of the flower of the city, the camellia, which is something we have been doing in the past years with a series of exhibitions and events in the city”, explains the vice-Mayor of Porto City Hall, Filipe Araújo, who is also councillor for Innovation and Environment.

Even in the hardest of times, the camellia still is the flower of Porto. It was brought from England in the beginning of the nineteenth century and it still fully blooms in the city, bringing a scent of a new beginning as the city is filled with new colours.