"Sir" Ribeiro Telles

In the midst of the blackness that is the country's state of mind, behold, a small flash appears. No, no […]

In the midst of the blackness that is the country's state of mind, behold, a small flash appears.

No, it is not a EuroMillions deficit savior. No, it is not the magic formula that allows our politicians to grow and understand each other in the name of the national interest and the resolution of difficulties, leaving aside the thirst for pots and obscure interests. The jokers will always be the jokers, and in this case, their toy is us, Portugal, and the future.

It's something simpler. Simple because the best things are almost always like that.

Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles, landscape architect, was awarded the Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Prize.

Put like that, it doesn't say anything to a lot of people, maybe most. To give you an idea, it's Pritzker, or the Nobel Prize for Landscape Architecture. In other words, it is the international recognition of someone who, in his life course, has made an incomparable contribution to the profession.

It is a tremendous honor for the winner, for the professional class of Landscape Architecture in Portugal and for the country.

Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, who lends his name to the award, was recognized as the greatest English landscape architect of his time, and left, in addition to his human and professional legacy, institutions dedicated to the subject of his work, such as the Landscape Institute or the International Federation of Landscape Architects.

Ribeiro Telles is not “Sir”. Nor could it be, Portuguese from Lisbon, with seven sides, as it is. But on the other hand, it could be. In an age of giants, it was, and is, the greatest. Not because it's above, but because it's ahead.

It could, without a doubt, have greater national recognition. Not for him, who, in his detachment, eclipses himself before the work. Ribeiro Telles is a simple and affable man, with immediate empathy. His teachings are inspiring stories, which flow at the flavor of the gaze and what he finds.

Recognizing it internally would be a favor we did ourselves as a society, elevating our priorities above the pitch or some television gutters.

And it's not even a recognition around the bonfire of vanities, but a recognition of their work.

Ribeiro Telles dreamed of a better country for us.

He dreamed, and dreams, of a country with balanced landscapes, a productive country, a country with identity, quality of life and social justice. I knew, and you know, that dreams are built with pragmatism. “Utopia and feet on the earth”, as the title of the exhibition dedicated to his life and work perfectly sums up.

That's why it fought and worked, against winds and tides. And from his dream of a civilized Portugal, and identified with its culture and its values ​​and natural resources, crystallizing its meeting in ancestral landscapes, erected by a People on the amorphous structure of a territory not always generous, was born a work.

A work embodied in the legal instruments of strategic planning, planning and management of the landscape and the preservation of its fundamental structures (National Agricultural Reserve and National Ecological Reserve, today violated and dismembered, in the name of nothing), in the preservation of remarkable values, in a network of protected areas.

A work built on water, air, fire, earth, time and people.

A work we despise.

Ribeiro Telles showed us a path to the future, projected us further ahead.

We didn't want to listen to him, we didn't want to follow in his footsteps. Rather, we have listened to false prophets, with sweet eyes, telling us “come this way”. We would have been more like José Régio before.

We prefer not to go forward. We really prefer to regress.

We would have followed his warnings and teachings before, and perhaps we would not have come to this point. At least we would be endowed with greater and better resources to face the difficulties.

It is probably due to our deafness and blindness that we no longer deserve such figures.

Professor Ribeiro Telles, congratulations on the award and thank you. After all, good people don't end up last.


Author Gonçalo Gomes is a landscape architect
(and writes according to the old Spelling Agreement)