Great Portuguese artworks feature in exhibition at two Australian museums

Japan, Dutch trading ship in Japanese waters, c.1870 four-panel screen, opaque watercolour, ink and gold on paper, 67.5 x 138.0 x 11.0 cm, Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth  2006.004

Japan, Dutch trading ship in Japanese waters, c.1870 four-panel screen, opaque watercolour, ink and gold on paper, 67.5 x 138.0 x 11.0 cm, Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth 2006.004

Unusually for Australia, there is a great museum exhibition on at the moment that focuses largely on Portugal’s “golden age of discoveries”. It’s the Treasure Ships: Art In The Age of Spices exhibition currently on at the Art Gallery of South Australia until August 30, and then at the Art Gallery of Western Australia from October 10 to January 31, 2016. As well as the Portuguese component, the 300-odd pieces in the exhibition – which examines the interaction between Europe and Asia from the 16th to the 19th centuries – come from private and public collections in India, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and the US.

I have always been interested in the Portuguese maritime exploits. When I was a young boy growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, we would often go to Mombasa on the coast for our family holidays, and visited Fort Jesus regularly. My dad would relate the story of the famous siege of the fort, and how the Portuguese bravely held out for months in the hope of a relief party arriving, but finally surrendered – only for relief to arrive the very next day. To me it all sounded heroic and tragic. But if you read the brief account of the siege here you will see that my dad was exaggerating as usual, and relief actually arrived a week after the surrender. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. I’ve also been to the maritime museum (Museu de Marinha) in Belem, Lisbon – a fabulous place (both the museum and Belem as a whole), for anyone who is interested in this period of history.

Portugal, Salver 1520–40, silver gilt, 46.5 cm (diameter).  National Museum Machado de Castro, Coimbra  MNMC 6092A

Portugal, Salver 1520–40, silver gilt, 46.5 cm (diameter). National Museum Machado de Castro, Coimbra MNMC 6092A

I asked one of the curators of Treasure Ships: Art In The Age of Spices, Russell Kelty, which Portuguese museums and institutions had contributed.

“The gallery worked closely with the Australian Embassy in Lisbon as well as the Secretary of Culture and three Portuguese institutions: The National Museum of Ancient Art (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga), in Lisbon; the National Museum/Museu Nacional Machado de Castro, in Coimbra; and the Museu do Oriente / Fundaҫão Oriente, in Lisbon,” Russell said. “It became apparent that to fully contextualise this age which was initiated by Portuguese mercantile and ecclesiastical expansion into Asia, the great collections of Portugal would be integral. As far as we know, this is the first exhibition in Australia to highlight those collections.”

Portugal, Reliquary cross of St Francis Xavier  first half 17th century, silver, 36.0 x 18.5 cm  National Museum Machado de Castro, Coimbra  MNMC 6210

Portugal, Reliquary cross of St Francis Xavier first half 17th century, silver, 36.0 x 18.5 cm. National Museum Machado de Castro, Coimbra
MNMC 6210

Asked to nominate the highlights of the exhibition from the point of view of anyone who is interested in Portuguese culture in particular, Russell said: “There is one designated national treasure from Portugal, the silver gilt Salver, which portrays the opulence of the early 16th century when spices provided great wealth for the Portuguese. Also there is a silver crab and cross (pictured right), which elucidates missionary activities in Asia, particularly the Jesuits and Francis Xavier, known as the ‘Apostle of the East’ who travelled throughout Asia and even to Japan to convert.”

A lot of work goes into curating an exhibition of this nature. Russell said his own involvement took two to three years of research and travel, and five years for co-curator James Bennett.

We’ll have a look at other aspects of the exhibition in another post soon.

The images here have been supplied courtesy of the Media section of the Art Gallery of South Australia and may not to be distributed to any other party. Please respect the copyright restrictions. 



Vale young Brazilian singer Cristiano Araújo

Popular Brazilian singer Cristiano Araújo, 29, and his girlfriend died after a car crash in the early hours of Wednesday morning this week in the state of Goiás. He had been touring and was due to appear at a festival in the north-eastern city of Fortaleza this weekend. His death shocked Brazil, as he was seen to be one of the stars of his generation and was also popular with the Brazilian and Latino community in the United States too. As the video clip (below) shows, his concerts certainly don’t lack visual spectacle.

Like Michel Teló, who had a massive hit worldwide with Ai, se eu te pego!, Araújo’s musical style is heavily influenced by sertanejo, the “country” music of the north-east. Here, in a different style though, is another of Araújo’s recent big hits, Caso Indefinido (Undefined Case).


Trying to get back into the groove

Hi, apologies for not having posted much recently. Work has kept me incredibly busy since January (extra projects on top of my normal job and another deadline is looming). I have hardly had time to think about Romance languages, and am really missing them. In the past couple of days I have been having cravings to listen to the music of Delia and her ilk again. The Romanian top 100 airplay chart website that I relied on for much of the past couple of years has gone offline, so instead I am using this blog site as a reference, but it has only the top 40 (often the songs that don’t make the top 40 are more interesting than those that do). The site also has a lot more English tracks on it, but never mind.

So here’s what quickly caught my ear…

This is not Delia, but it could easily be… It’s a Moldovan singer, Nicoleta Nuca. She’s at No.16.

I also like this by Dan Bittman, the lead singer of Holograf (and before that IRIS), who is wrestling with angels and demons. He’s at No.6 but I think was at No.1 not so long ago. I particularly like the guitar licks around the 2.50 minute mark.

And now for Delia, at No.14 with this…

Now here are some live performances of the above…

I hope to catch up with some French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish music soon. To all the people whose blogs I follow, I hope you are well 🙂