By Sofia Jesus

One thing that has always attracted me while traveling was people painting on the streets. Many of them were travelers, just as me, sketching away their impressions of a place — instead of freezing them in a mobile phone’s camera. But there are also those who actually live in that place — or know it well — but have never lost the ability of being amazed by it ,and look daily for the thrill of a new detail, a new hanging-shadow, a new sunset-façade.

Lisbon Sketchbook — Seven Hills, Seven Sketches compiles a series of portraits of Portugal’s capital city. This bilingual edition — in Portuguese and English — includes sketches and accompanying texts by artists Eduardo Salavisa, Filipe Leal de Faria, João Catarino, José Louro, Pedro Cabral, Pedro Fernandes and Richard Câmara.

In this wonderful collection, you will find an urban landscape made of open views as well as of little details. And people. You will find narrow streets, churches’ tops, trams under a wire network, outdoor stairs going up a hill, and wine glasses on tables in outdoor terraces facing the cultural heritage.

Eduardo Salavisa explains, in the book’s introduction, that the project behind it was “to record seven routes on a specific support, the so called ‘Travel Diary’ sketchbook”. Usually, this kind of travel sketchbook is “a personal, private object, meant to be seen at close range, and only by its owner or by someone it has been given to”. So, he warns, the mere fact the sketchers knew their drawings would be published in an actual book may have made them feel “some constraint”.

Well, if so, as a reader, I do not think that poured into these pages. Yes, they are certainly well-thought works, but what I have treasured most about these sketches is the sense — illusion? — of spontaneity and freedom they passed on to me.

The sketchbook, published by Quimera, features an essay by João Seixas, who has a PhD in Urban Geography and has been working “for the political, economic and cultural regeneration of the Portuguese cities,” as said in the book. He observes: “[Lisbon] is not exactly the best planned and governed city in the world. But old or new, clean or dirty, red or grey, Lisbon is a hands-wide. It is, inevitably, a place of hope.”

I hope you find this sketching journey as appealing as I did. As I am convinced this book would be as interesting to those who know Lisbon well, as to those who have never stepped foot there.


Lisbon Sketchbook — Seven Hills, Seven Sketchers

Sketches and text by: Eduardo Salavisa, Filipe Leal de Faria, João Catarino, José Louro, Pedro Cabral, Pedro Fernandes and Richard Câmara.

Essay by: João Seixas

Quimera, 2011