The first time Toin Adams held a ball of clay in her hands she was 15 years old. It was a life-changing moment. She “knew instantly” that she wanted to be a sculptor – but the mayhem of her 20s in London, after a wild childhood in Africa, meant she “got sidetracked for a while, working in graphic and web design and making lots of money”.
It’s funny how naturally gifted people make it all sound so easy, but at some point in Toin’s madcap hurly burly “a property developer” asked her if she wanted to do a giant sculpture and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
The sculpture was the biggest commission she has had to date: “Greenman” – a gigantic 12-metre high pagan construction designed to embellish the opening of the famous Custard Factory, a creative industries centre in Birmingham.
Bold and awe-inspiring, it put the dynamic artist firmly on the map.
Since then public and private commissions, always large-scale and invariably with a strong mythological feel, have stretched out weirdly and wonderfully before her.
“I like making large scale sculptures, playing with diverse materials and figuring out how to make them… not fall over” she explains with customary self-effacement.
She works with the backup of engineers, architects and technicians whose experience and expertise allows her to affirm: “I can weld, bend iron, cast almost anything, draw anything, hang anything, build anything and design anything”.
Nonetheless, it is a journey that has been characterised by “feast or famine” Toin concedes from her bohemian home in the countryside midway between Boliqueime and Loulé.
Technical-wizardry when it comes to the Internet has meant that efforts towards self-promotion and networking have paid off in spades.
Only recently she got an invitation via facebook to create a giant sculpture in India where she had the good fortune to meet a client who believed “the artist should work unencumbered by any financial restraints”! (“Boy, if only they were all like that”, more laughter.)
Another “fabulous” commission looks like taking her to the 14th Changchun (Nong’an) International Sculpture Symposium in China.
Forever “shipping out and working all over the place”, Toin’s dream is to get more commissions in Portugal, particularly as she juggles her career with the demands of single parenthood.
A plan she is currently developing with artistic friends and colleagues in the “Imaginary Beings” collective is for a three-day arts festival for the Algarve – with random crazy ‘wild stuff’ involving interaction with people in the streets, and very possibly set against the ruins of Paderne Castle.
“It’s all just thoughts at the moment. Who knows where it will lead”…
Meantime, Arte Algarve will be taking delivery in the next few days of one of the few sculptures that Toin still has to hand (“I never have new work to show because it is all sold”) – so eyes peeled when driving through Lagoa. If you see a massive Medusa craning her snake-bedecked head towards the EN125, you’ll know it has arrived safely…
Something of a poet as well as an artist, Toin sums up the compulsion that fuels the life of a creative being.
“We do it because we must, and because the act of creating is what it is to live fully awake everyday”.
For a further look at the powerful work of this indefatigable lady sculptor, see: www.toinadams.com. Toin will also be submitting paintings and drawings in our upcoming Open VIII, starting at 3pm on June 15th.
Written by Natasha Donn
Street artists and musicians are a huge part of the summertime charm of the Algarve. Every town has its share of mime artists, caricaturists, jugglers and singers – but there is only one Lothar Vroegan.
Lothar arrived a few years ago, with his barrel-organ and stuffed monkey, and has been delighting crowds up and down the region ever since.
You find him at weekends, either in Olhão (between the markets on the seafront), Loulé, or playing the flea markets of Ferragudo and Lagoa. He’s thinking of starting also in Portimão.
In the frenzy of modern life, though, what is it that impels a man to put on a funny outfit (he takes infectious delight in his selection of hats) and turn the crank of a mechanical music box? It is certainly not the stuff of making fortunes, particularly as Lothar doesn’t even charge for his performances. “People can give if they want to”, he tells us.
“This is nothing about making money”, he agrees with a carefree smile. “I do it because I love it! I just love the sounds of these little organs. I have two. One which I play when I am in the street, and a smaller one that I play at parties, or inside.
“I fell in love with them when I was a child in Germany. I always dreamed of having one of my own”.
The dream eventually became a reality. Lothar has around 650 different melodies that he can play on his instruments, handmade in Germany by “Raffin”, the Mercedes of barrel-organ construction.
Sadly, there are no Portuguese songs available on the general barrel-organ market. Lothar has to order them especially – which is very expensive.
His first Portuguese melody was ready only recently, and he played it last weekend. What was it?
“Grandola Vila Morena!” He beams. He was delighted by the reaction. “It was absolutely brilliant! Everyone started singing. The Portuguese people who heard me loved it!”
Love of music, love of life – these are Lothar’s magic ingredients for contentment in the Algarve. When he is not playing his organ, or tending his garden, he is leaping onto his much-loved Harley Davidson and taking part in various bikers’ club get-togethers.
Still fairly hesitant when it comes to the Portuguese language, he has succeeded with charm and the universal bond of music. “I play at nearly all the bikers’ lunches and celebrations now”, he smiles. “Everyone likes it so much. The bikers, their families, the children… In fact, I have to come home after all our rides, leave my bike and drive in the car to the meals we organise, just so that I can take the organ with me!”
Lothar is available for private functions (birthdays/ weddings, etc.) and can be contacted on email@example.com
Written by Natasha Donn
Instead of going to the beach, why not head for Quinta de Oxalá in Estômbar and enjoy “interesting art, questionable company and light al-fresco nibbles and drinks”, not to mention cool breezes coming off an idyllic lake?
The plan is to show art in the making, under the olive trees – an afternoon of sharing, with aspiring artists and interested art lovers.
Your hosts will be:
-Caroline Wood, who lives in the Algarve and has participated in many exhibitions working in oils and watercolours
-Kate Evans, who paints in oils but is currently using watercolor or colored pencils to create beautiful botanical illustrations of Algarve wildflowers
-Cliff Martin, who describes his painting as a mixture between Jackson Pollock and Rembrandt – “I’m just not as famous “… until he paints his masterpiece, that is!
-Gaelle Hamp-Adams, originally from Africa and who loves to paint wildlife and animals, and experimenting with various mediums.
-BJ Boulter who has made the leap from her profession as film production designer to artist, sketching and painting – exploring watercolour and acrylics
-Kerstin Wagner, renowned as an abstract painter in acrylic and pure pigments; watch out for our interview upcoming with her next week!
-Bonnie Appleyard, enthused by abstract art: the mixture of colours, shapes and textures gives wings to her imagination, and
-David Trubshaw, who loves painting abstract trees and skyscapes in acrylics and is currently investigating painting without brushes…
One of the best-selling artists from our last exhibition, Claude Müller – a mistress of improvisation – rose to the challenge to conduct a “fun workshop”, holding on to her sense of humour with the skill of a trapeze artist.
Art teacher Marta Dyer-Smith deserves an endurance medal for her work, as indeed do all teachers of secondary school children the world over.
It is possibly the most trying age bracket, 13-16, and thus we consider ourselves lucky that the gallery has remained standing – particularly as one of the attending teens has something of a history for starting fires.
So what of the talent? Well, happily there was some. A diffident young man in a hat showed a skill beyond his years. “Please, no!” he winced in mock horror when an observer remarked that he was an artist.
It turns out that it is his mother who is the artist. But more of that in another post. The young man in the hat meantime insists that he wants to be a computer programmer…
For now, we leave you with some of the images of a morning where for a few hours the younger generation got to be our “artists of the day”.
Written by Natasha Donn
Believing in the Algarve!
You either love it or hate it, but Saturday sees another Eurovision Song Contest – and this year a very special lady who loves the Algarve is singing for her country, at the age of 61!
The UK’s Bonnie Tyler and her bid for Eurovision stardom is the subject of this week’s blog by Len Port, on algarvenewswatch.blogspot.pt.
Ms Tyler was also the special guest at KissFM radio station recently, talking about how much she enjoys life in the Algarve, and how she hopes the people of Portugal will vote for her.
One of our readers, and well-known figure in the west Algarve, Val Window (the other half of Kiss FM’s Sir Owen Gee), recently won a painting she is delighted with in a charity raffle.
As you can see from the photos attached, the signature is open to interpretation.
“Sometimes I think it says Barbara Flanagan”, Val tells us. “Other times I am not so sure”.
Queries via facebook have no far led nowhere.
Anyone who recognises the painting, should contact Val through Arte Algarve’s website.
Meantime, the lady who used to run a business grooming cats and dogs, and has a penchant for fast motorbikes, is now considering standing for her local parish council for the wonderfully green and “let’s-do-away-with corruption” Earth Party (MPT-Partido da Terra).
Anyone who holds a voting card and lives in Praia da Luz, should put their cross next to Val’s name in the upcoming municipal elections in October. We’re told that if she polls just 500 votes, the seat is her’s …
But back to our “whodunnit”, the first person who can accurately identify the artist responsible for Val’s mystery painting will win a free bottle of delicious “Porches Primeur” wine… to be claimed in person from the gallery.
Written by ND
Every Saturday from June 15th to August 17th we will be organizing an “Open Air Art Festival” along the picturesque port of Ferragudo. Starting at 6pm and lasting till midnight, the quayside from the Old Bridge to the Mercado Municipal belongs to the artists. Traffic will be blocked on those evenings.
Ferragudo is already famous for its Saturday nights. A well-known band performs in the adjacent central square, and thousands of people regularly come to enjoy the atmosphere – to dance and party. It’s a unique summertime attraction in the Algarve.
Entre os dias 15 de Junho e 17 de Agosto, todos os sábados organizaremos uma “festival de arte ao ar livre” ao longo do cais da aldeia pitoresca de Ferragudo. O cais, entre a ponte antiga e o Mercado Municipal, estará fechado ao trânsito. Entre as 18 horas e meia-noite o cais pertence aos artistas.
Ferragudo, que já popular pelas suas noites de Sábado, receberá bandas reconhecidas na praça central que alegram milhares de visitantes e convidam com música ao vivo para dançar e viver umas noites de verão divertidas. De certeza será uma atracção única durante o verão no Algarve.
An allen Samstagen, vom 15. Juni bis 17. August veranstalten wir in Ferragudo eine „Open Air Festival der Kunst am Kai“. Von 18 Uhr bis Mitternacht gehört der Kai zwischen der Alten Brücke und dem Mercado Municipal den Künstlern. Der Autoverkehr wird an diesen Abenden gesperrt.
Parallel dazu tritt auf dem benachbarten zentralen Platz eine bekannte Band auf, dafür ist Ferragudo ja berühmt geworden. Tausende von Menschen strömen herbei, viele tanzen, es herrscht eine tolle Stimmung – einzigartig in der ganzen Algarve.
Feasts for the Eyes
Art and food – it is a combination one increasingly finds when dining out these days, designed to benefit everyone: restaurants have something fun (and free) to put on their walls, artists have the chance to show their work to a captive audience, and diners are able to feast the eyes, as well their stomachs.
But in Praia da Luz this season, the Mirage Bar & Restaurant is showing some rather unusual works of art. From a painter well-known in contemporary art circles, a lot of these paintings are highly political. Bernd Schwarzer’s work deals with the issues of Europe, reunification of East and West,Weimar and human rights.
When you see his pictures these underlying messages are not immediately clear, but the colours of the German flag are predominant, as well as the telltale blue circle, which we discovered later is Schwarzer’s symbol for a united Europe. Early influences include Vincent Van Gogh, and this can be seen very clearly in one of the smaller paintings at the back of the pretty pastel-decorated dining room.
The rest, well, it’s anyone’s guess – and there are more to come as the season continues.
“I am still getting used to them myself”, Mirage owner David Jones tells us. For a close-up look at these unusual artworks, enjoy a trip to the Mirage. It is “celebrating 25 years of good food and fun” this summer and has a delicious menu, free wi-fi and an excellent
choice of Portuguese wines.
Mirage Bar & Restaurant: 282 788524/ 912771713. Portuguese, English and German spoken.