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Interview with Artist
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I don't remember why we decided to visit the Algarve in August but I'm fairly certain we weren't thinking about the fact that pretty much all of Europe is on vacation in August. I used to check the New York Times "rentals other areas" ads regularly and found a listing for an apartment in Lagos (pronounced lagohsh) on the Mediterranean coast. It sounded perfect so I booked it for the first two weeks in August. We rented a little Ford Escort, which was considered a large car in Portugal at the time.
We flew into Lisbon, picked up the car and started what should have been a four hour drive. After ten hours of bumper-to-bumper crawl under a beating sun with no air conditioning we arrived in Lagos. We managed to find the woman who would give us the keys to the apartment but were distressed to find that the electricity had been turned off. The woman gave us candles and a very complicated story explaining the problem and promised that someone would be around the next day to fix everything. The apartment was owned by an American and I remember coming to the conclusion that the woman who was our contact in Lagos had pocketed the electric payment. Early the next day a guy arrived and spliced some cables together. There was nothing at all official about the guy and I'm pretty sure he just tied us in to the neighbor's power.
It was a very neat little apartment with a tiny balcony and a small terrace in the back. There was a lime tree in a pot on the terrace which sported a few tiny limes. The windows had metal roll-down shades which came in handy because the owner had neglected to tell us that there was a disco up the block. The disco was quite soundproof but not the street when the disco closed at about three in the morning and all the drunken customers poured out into the street on their way home. Every night we would have to decide whether to get a little breeze with the windows open or close the shades and sweat but keep some of the 3AM sound out. The streets would quiet down just in time for the rooster that lived across the street to announce that it was time for a new day.
Thinking back, it was quite a noisy town. There was a traveling circus appearing and their sound cars struggled to be louder than the one stroke motorcycles. We heard the pitch for the Circo Cardinali so much that we finally went to see it. I don't ever again want to be that close to circus tigers. They were in a big cage but it did not seem to be a particularly strong big cage.
In spite of the noise we had a great time. The town was beautiful. The beach was like a travel brochure with craggy cliffs surrounding fantastic little beaches. The Mediterranean was wonderful to swim in. We took a water taxi ride one morning and the driver took us into an amazing grotto. He had to time the waves in order to maneuver through the entrance archway without getting us dashed on the rocks overhead.
I did two big drawings while we were in Lagos. This street scene came out the best. I leaned up against a wall at the foot of the street and drew when the crowds thinned out. The basket shop on the left was actually up the block from our apartment. I think there was a travel agency in the space and I was unhappy that there wasn't any focus for the bottom part of the drawing so I put the shop in there instead.
The church spire at the top of the street was also in the other drawing. I did that one from the little balcony of our apartment.
Artwork and Images Copyright 1987 Neil Borrell - All Rights Reserved
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