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15 candid portraits of Lisbon community life

Walk around the Mouraria area of Lisbon, one of the city’s oldest parts, and you might discover a series of portraits printed onto the ancient walls.

This is the work of Brit-born photographer Camilla Watson.

  • A portrait of Sr Henrique in the exhibit 'a Tribute' in Mouraria, Lisbon
  • Candid portrait photographs of the streets elder residents on Largo Dos Trigueros in Mouraria are displayed on the walls of houses
  • Portraits of Fado 2013: A permanent exhibit. Image of Fadista (singer) 'Fernando Mauriçio' printed directly onto the wall using silver emulsion and a mobile darkroom with a window at one end fixed against the wall. This is part of an outdoor permanent exhibit about the history of fado in the Mouraria neighbourhood of Lisbon. It follows a route a mile long and consists of 26 images of musicians and singers linked to the local families and community. It was a collaborative project with families in the community who have lived there for generations. This was funded by the city hall in Lisbon
  • A Tribute to Dona Antonia. Outdoor permanent exhibit which is ongoing. Elderly over 70 exhibited onto the walls. They choose their images. This is a community and collaborative project
  • Candid portrait photographs of the streets elder residents on Largo dos Trigueros in Mouraria are displayed on the walls of houses
  • A tribute to Dona Egilda on Largo dos Trigueros in Mouraria
  • Camilla Watson in Mouraria, Lisbon
  • Candid portrait photographs of the streets elder residents in Mouraria and Alma de Alfama are displayed
  • Candid portrait photographs of the streets elder residents on Largo Dos Trigueros in Mouraria are displayed on the walls of houses
  • Dona Egilda and Dona Maria in 'A Tribute' in Mouraria
  • Portraits of Fado. These are the first 5 images in the exhibit
  • Alma de Alfama - Soul of Alfama 2016. 20 images printed onto stone. An exhibit in Alfama area of Lisbon of the most
  • Images drying outside my studio in Largo dos Trigueiros
  • Alma de Alfama - Soul of Alfama 2016. 20 images printed onto stone. An exhibit in Alfama area of Lisbon of the most traditonal and charimatic figures in the area. An attempt to preserve memories and traditions which are disappearing rapidly with gentrification. Funded by the City Hall. 20 images spread throughout the neighbourhood with short texts written by the people themselves in the photos
  • Camilla Watson in front of her studio preparing wood for printing with neighbour Dona Violeta who is part of the project 'A Tribute'.

 

Named ‘A Tribute’, the wall-based artwork is a series of portraits of the elderly members of the community, which weaves its way physically and metaphorically through the neighbourhood.

“When I began this project, the old part of Lisbon had not been renovated for at least 200 years,” says Watson. “The walls were full of holes and cracks – and the area had a high density of elderly so for me the old people were ageing together with the old buildings. They were one and the same. So I imagined their faces as part of walls in the streets. And I set myself the challenge of printing them onto the walls themselves.

The 50-year-old artist learnt to print on surfaces like concrete, wood and stone in ways that allow her art to exist undamaged through the sun and rain, while incorporating the stories of locals and their connection to the physical space around them.

“I have always worked in collaborative projects with communities,” says Watson. “And it had always frustrated me that when I had exhibits they were in a ‘gallery’ and so far away in spirit from the communities and people who were the subjects. I wanted the community – the elderly to be part of the project and to exhibit in a place that was part of their everyday lives. So that they could enjoy it too.”

Watson first started out in the business as a 25-year-old theatre photography apprentice in London, where she eventually worked on documenting community projects. By 2000, she had moved to Brazil, teaching pinhole photography techniques to young people in the favelas of Sao Paolo – photographs that appear in her Lisbon installations.

It was while working for UNICEF in Sao Tome & Principe, that she passed through Lisbon, deciding to set up her photography work there permanently.

Watson has just completed a new project, which is a display of 100 tiles of a community in Lisbon, featuring a mixture of images from the beginning of the 1900s until today. Next up, she is focusing on the fishermen of Azores, on the isle of Pico, where photographs will be printed onto stone and mounted outdoors together with their stories.

Click through our gallery above to see Camilla Watson’s ‘A Tribute’.

Source: Standard