After four months of interweaving, the TASA project gains two new artisans

It took four months to learn the art of entwining with artisans from the Algarve, but also with masters from abroad, […]

It took four months to learn the art of intertwining with artisans from the Algarve, but also with masters from abroad, including the Andalusian António Rodriguez, «the Cristiano Ronaldo da Palma». Now, Cláudia Guerreiro and Vanessa Flórido have been hired by TASA – Ancestral Techniques, Current Solutions and became part of the team of this program, which aims to recover the traditional arts of the Algarve.

The two young artisans were graduates of the woven course of the “Artisans of the XNUMXst Century” Program, which took place between February and May. Altogether, six people participated in this training action, who learned directly from those who have been dedicated for decades to the handling of materials such as sugarcane and palm, among others, and to the art of contract work.

This initiative "aimed at directly responding to the need to transmit knowledge in the arts of woven to a new generation of artisans", according to Proactivetur, the company responsible for managing TASA, a program that was launched in 2010 by the Regional Coordination and Development Commission of the Algarve.

According to the current promoters of the project, the training came «at a critical time, when the traditional arts of the Algarve are on the countdown towards extinction and when the market awakens to the artisanal production of high cultural value, differentiating and inserted in a logic of sustainability from a social, cultural and economic point of view'.

Moreover, it was because they recognized that there is potential in traditional arts and a future for those who practice them that Vanessa Flórido and Cláudia Guerreiro embraced the challenge launched by Proactivetur. And, despite having very different life stories and different experiences, both stood out during the course and were hired by those responsible for the TASA project.

Vanessa Flórido grew up in the city of Tavira and had little contact, in her childhood and youth, with the rural world and traditional arts. “I am a city dweller, I never had regular contact with the countryside as a young man. My grandparents already lived in Tavira, where I grew up. But I always had this call to the interior and to issues related to nature. I've always wanted to live in the countryside, something I got now. I'm very happy (laughs)», the young artisan told the Sul Informação.

It was on his own initiative that he had his first contact with the manual arts. «I had never had experience with laces. At some point in my life, I tried making basketry in newspaper. We made tubes out of newsprint and used the wicker technique. At the time, I was fascinated by the amount of things that could be done», she said.

«I had also had experience with pottery and I really enjoyed making origami, which, despite not having to do with our craft, is also a handicraft. But with vegetable materials, I had never worked before», he added.

Cláudia Guerreiro, who grew up in Almancil, had more opportunities to get in touch with traditional arts as she grew up. «I applied for this course because I have always identified with this type of art. Anything that is handicraft is something that says a lot to me. My grandparents, who are from Alcoutim and Alentejo, were already making handicrafts», he told the Sul Informação.

And, although he had never tried lattices, he had already had experience «in the area of crochet and macrame and other types of work».

The two artisans "are already collaborating in the development of prototypes that will bring added value to innovation in traditional weavings, such as cane basketwork and construction, and also in aligning these arts with the values ​​of sustainability." revealed to Proactivetur.

In the coming weeks, they will jointly promote workshops at TASA stores in the center of Loulé and at Hotel Anantara, in Vilamoura. In these creative experiences, participants are challenged «to create their own object to take and remember», using materials such as sugarcane, palm and other plants native to the Algarve.

In other words, the two young artisans will start, from now on, applying the techniques they learned in the course, not only with artisans from the Algarve, but also with guests from abroad. One of the highlights of the training was the module led by António Rodriguez, palm specialist, respectfully nicknamed “Cristiano Ronaldo” by the director of Proactivetur João Ministro, but who “prefers to be called Messi (laughs)”.

O Sul Informação he attended one of the classes given by the Spanish artisan and spoke with António Rodriguez, who shed some light on how he manages to make a living exclusively from his art.

“I believe artisans have to evolve, acquire new techniques and do new things. If they do a better job, they can sell the piece at a higher price. It's like going to buy food at a store. You have the normal ham and the pata negra ham. And the latter is worth more because it has more quality. And people recognize this and that this difference is paid», he considered.

In the case of handicrafts, for people to begin to understand the difference between the pieces that are created with greater care and those of lesser quality, «it is necessary to educate them from a young age. We have to take the children to the countryside, to see what is happening there, to have contact with the creation process, so that they understand how arduous this work is».

António Rodriguez believes that if people know what is the reality of artisans "they will be willing to pay more".

The life of someone who dedicates himself XNUMX% to a traditional trade is not easy. António Rodriguez confesses that he is “a nomad”, because, in addition to producing the pieces, he is also dedicated “to selling and providing training”. Every year, he goes “to five or six specialized fairs” in Spain.

The contribution of this experienced artisan was welcomed by the trainees. “It was, without a doubt, an inspiration for us. He grew up making and seeing objects made in palm. Later, he dedicated himself deeply to this activity, as he had a health problem. He has a lot of panache and dedicates many hours to improving his products», framed Vanessa Flórido.

The message that the Andalusian master conveyed to his students from the Algarve is that «it's not worth doing things with three shovels, to sell to the English for tuta and a half. He loves what he does and he passed on that passion to us. I am very grateful to TASA for putting us in contact with this person,” said Vanessa.

“He went through some difficult phases, financially, but he made the decision to dedicate himself to his art out of passion. Because if you want to feel disconnected in any job, it's better to do what you like, even if you have to struggle a little longer», added Cláudia Guerreiro.

Now, both artisans are already looking forward. «I think that this activity has a future, but not in the way it was done in the past, where mass products were made, of average quality, to make some money in a hurry. That way it is not sustainable, in financial terms. Today we can do it differently. In addition to being artisans, we have to be versatile. We have to do workshops, to care about the history of the people involved, about the origin of the materials, about the sustainability around our activity», considered Vanessa Flórido.

For the young artisan, «it is important to convey this information to those who buy the products, as this is what gives value to the piece. I think that people are already beginning to have a different awareness of consumption and the TASA project meets this, bearing in mind that it is ethical with those who work and in relation to the materials they use, which are from here and harvested sustainably».

Cláudia Guerreiro makes her own the words of her classmate (and, now, by profession). “It's challenging to think about the future, but I believe it exists. I think it will go a long way towards the points that Vanessa highlighted, the ecological part and the interest it is generating. Opting for consumption alternatives and involving our cultural identity here, which is what we are trying to preserve», he said.

What is certain is that, after months of intense work, both feel that the effort was worth it. «It surpassed my expectations, due to the contact we had with all these artisans. They pass everything on in a very genuine way, which means that the format is not so much that of training, but an interaction, which was how they learned», summarized Cláudia Guerreiro.