Bragança, Portugal.

Friday 12 July 2019

Leaving Zamora, I thought I’d entered Portugal with without spotting a sign. I travelled through a neglected landscape of decaying buildings and forgotten fields, such a contrast to the Spain seen before, the one town on route (Alcanices, though I might be wrong) looking lost like the landscape before it.

Then a blue sign with yellow stars announced Portugal, one kilometre, most of which was a bridge over the Rio Maças, and then I was there, my first time in Portugal, and back on UK time.

Bragança is the first town of any size. Like the child of loving but poor parents, it’s scruffy but clean, dressed in many styles and difficult to get a sense of. The aire is nice, just below the castle,

a significant historical edifice, being on the border. The original settlement was on the hill,

and increasingly fortified over time. There is a village inside the walls still.

A short walk brought me to the town and the Graça Morais Contemporary Art Gallery. Graça Morais is seventy-one, lives in Lisbon but hails from this region. Hence a living artist having her own gallery, which rotates her work in half its space. I liked her work.

It was colourful,

with a dreamy, magic realism about it.

The other spaces were given to Israeli artist Zadok Ben-David, well known internationally.

The title of the exhibition, People I Saw But Never Met, says what it’s about. The people are from all over the world, their photos reproduced as line drawings on clear plastic.

4000 in this space.

A video of his, called Conversation Piece,

was also very good.

The town is peppered with artworks, some large,

some smaller,

some scrappy,

(made of painted scrap), and others,

of differing styles.

If someone had turned a seventies skirt into a town, Bragança might be it.

The town has a welcoming feel to it, people I’ve met have been lovely, and I’m enjoying hearing Portuguese. Similar to Spanish but, to my ear, softer and rounder. Just as incomprehensible, unfortunately.

It’s 36 degrees, but the weather forecast tomorrow is cooler with an afternoon of storms, though it feels like it’s going to break this evening. I’ll stay put, and see what else Bragança has to offer.

(And as the blog seems to be up and running again, I’ve a few days to catch up. Posting with fingers crossed.)

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