This exhibition is composed of earthenware utilitarian crockery, which belongs to renowned pottery centres established in the north of Portugal. This typology of pottery items was conceived for daily domestic use and meant to address the needs of the family. Thus, here are pieces of black, red opaque and glazed earthenware from the following locations: Parada de Gatim, Barcelos, Guimarães, Bisalhães, Vilar de Nantes, Selhariz, Pinela, Felgar and Gondar.
Although in the past, it was used in all Portuguese houses, the utilitarian pottery started to decline in the Seventies of the last century, replaced by plastic and metal utensils.
The Montemuro Mountain twists and turns, site of well kept secrets, guarded an ancient community of potters that has survived until today. Nestled between the Douro and Paiva Rivers, it was the birthplace of countless hands that turned the low wheel. In their mounds, piles and spikes of beating the sopping clay. The ground is carved with soengas (ancient ovens for cooking crockery, consisting of holes covered with earth and firewood), open like anthill entrances, where smoke and clay merged, resulting in black clay.
In this scenario, and separated for about 15 years, came into the world, José Maria Rodrigues (1906) and Joaquim Alvelos (1920). They started their professional life during their childhood – times were different – within the family, learning the craft with their parents. The change in the consumption paradigms led them to entrepreneurship, changing from pottery production to the imagery art. Although they had never entirely abandoned the first one, they stood out and became best-known by the second one. Something that led them to travel the country from top to bottom, being present in countless craftsmanship fairs.
The persistence of the memory is capsuled in the creations of both, bringing a forgotten universe to the light of today. The exhibition, Masters of Black Clay – Joaquim Alvelos and José Maria Rodrigues, presents the works of these two memorable and singular ceramic artists from Viseu.