PHYLLIS ODESSEY

a blue and white kind of girl

A house in Provesende, Portugal, high in the Duouro Valley.

I recently invited a neighbor over for a drink.  She said, “I’d love to come. But I want you to know I am mock cocktail kind of girl.”  I had no idea what she was talking about until I gave it a little thought.  Well, I am a blue and white kind of girl.  Those who know me, have been in my kitchen:  only blue and white dishes and tiles and the bathroom follows suit with only blue and white tiles and towels and finishes in the bedroom with blues on the bed and floor.  On a recent trip to Portugal, I was in blue and white heaven.  You can read: the flora and fauna, the evolution of the wine trade, the vastness of the landscape  and the religious and historic events  by looking carefully at the exteriors and interiors of Portuguese buildings both large and small.

Sao Bento Railway Station, Porto

The Sao Bento Railway Station in Porto is the star of the blue and white tile craze.  Called Azulejo, the word is derived from the Arabic meaning polished stone.  These tile murals were designed and painted by Jorbge Colac beginning in 1904 and completed in 1916.  Threre are 20,000 tiles in the station.
These tile murals tell the story of Portugal’s history, but also document the life of ordinary people.

Sao Bento Railway Station, Porto, Portugal

Train station mural

Train station mural

Train station mural

Train station close-up from larger mural.

Igreja do Carmo, Porto, Portugal

You expect to see these vast murals on the sides of large churches.

Tile mural in Lousa, Portugal

These murals are remarkable, but in some ways more to more liking are the tile murals you find in small unexpected places.

The bus stop in Sabrosa, one of the Douro Valley Villages.

A bench in front of the town hall at Lousa.

Exterior murals on the outside of the Pinhao Railway Station

These two murals are from the railway station in Pinhao, an assuming building of small portions.

The tasting room at a small quinta in the Douro Valley

And of course the small churches are covered with geometric blue and white tiles.

Not blue and white, the tile mural above (from the Coimbra, the city with the oldest university in Portugal) tells me a lot about the flora of the period.

The above were some of my favorites – not only because of the plants they represent, but for the beauty of the painting.

Not blue and white, but a companion piece to the individual floral tiles above.  Those were the days!

A favorite, the ordinary personal gardens that line the streets of the small towns of Portugal.

Fragmentary Blue
By Robert Frost

Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?

Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet) –
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

 

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