Photo credit: IOM/Tiago Figueiredo
"Olá! I’m Dave, an artist and arts coordinator from London now living in Lisbon. My mission in life is to convince everyone that we are ALL artists.
I first arrived in Portugal for a holiday in 1983. It seemed very chaotic, workers and friends arrived would arrive late yet no one seemed stressed. Every clock showed a different time. There was an abundance of street cafes and down cobbled streets. You could find quite a few old time taverns playing Fado, the melancholic Portuguese music.
My favorite part of Lisbon is Mouraria, the second oldest district in the city Centre. Here there is a mixture of local Lisbon-etas, people from Portugal's former colonies such as Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Macau plus Chinese people and Romanians. I am disappointed by how people from different ethnic groups seem to have less job opportunities than the Portuguese but love how there is a lot of socializing within the local communities themselves.
I'm a self-taught artist and I sell my own drawings, paintings and a book of my prose/poems in bars, cafes and street markets. I make just enough to get some tasty Portuguese stew in many of the local cafes.
Since the year 2000 I have coordinated drawing, painting and creative writing workshops. In doing so I learned that the Portuguese culture is very moderate and timid, full of potential artists simply too shy to even try. Art courses in Portugal are usually too expensive for those on an average Portuguese wage. Therefore I teamed up with other community arts coordinators and created the group: CHOCA – Chill Out Community Arts. CHOCA runs art activities for all levels. People can "pay" for their lessons by making donations: either offering services or paying with objects.
Over the years CHOCA has run arts workshops in schools, art clubs, centers for senior citizens, clubs for the unemployed, festivals and more. In June 2017, CHOCA opened a community arts house in Lisbon for the general public to do art in a relaxed homely atmosphere of a residential apartment open to the public. There is an arts activity every day and one or two activities on the weekend.
I think Portugal is still a very relaxed moderate place, but I also feel it is becoming more confident and positive. Could it be that CHOCA’s help for people to do art has played a part in this?"