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Drawn Surfaces Exhibition: Mértola Islamic Ceramics and Textile Design

Mértola Museum – Islamic Art – from 18th May to 4th September 2022

The 2nd year students pursuing the Fashion Design Degree of the University of Lisbon Faculty of Architecture were challenged to explore textile technologies to obtain designs on the textile surface. Within the curricular module of Fashion Materials II, they studied ceramic pieces from the catalogue of the Mértola Archaeological Site.
The virtuosity of Islamic ceramic design in dialogue with the symbolism inherent in the designed motifs has been transported to textile surfaces, filtered by current finishing processes. Dyed and stamped samples were developed, using different materials and techniques, which influenced the obtaining of colours and textures, in a western reading of a graphic representation of ancestral and Islamic culture. It is therefore not surprising that what stood out, in some cases, was the shape of the pieces and the design of the ceramics and, in others, its symbology, which was also the subject of study.
As a cultural and identity reinterpretation, design is sustainable from a social point of view, preserving the look to the past, and relying on intelligible local inspirations; but it is also sustainable from an ecological standpoint, by taking advantage of natural dyes or digital methods applied to printing, which are more environmentally friendly processes. Others, which explore special effects provided by materials that react to stimuli, allow a second reading, capable of attracting new looks and alerting consciences.
It is this mixture of creative adaptations with technical and re-signification processes that enriches design, offering possibilities of innovation to it. As for the Museum of Islamic Art, whereas it was considered then a source of inspiration for the creative process, it is now a place of questioning how antiquity is brought to contemporaneity through textile design. In this dialogue between past and present, with a glimpse of the future, the 1st floor of the museum houses the exhibition of textile samples, produced mainly by manual processes, in a total of 160 works, divided into 5 areas: figurative samples, consisting of about 100 works, 2/3 of the collection; abstract samples; reversible samples; technological samples, obtained by digital means such as sublimation, digital printing, laser cutting and laser abrasion; dynamic samples with special effects provided, for example, by photochromic, photoluminescent or reflective elements, producing an e-textile.
The exhibition, open from 18th May to 4th September 2022, is part of the DESIGNING TOMORROW’S WORLD project, which aims to implement a sustainable model of design in the area of slow fashion, with the aim of creating a fashion brand based on Mértola’s local culture and heritage, with an impact on the health, social, economic and environmental areas. In this context, the students’ contribution materialises the transfer of urban/rural knowledge in the field of design. The project is promoted by ASSOCIAÇÃO VIA CRIATIVA – Design for Local Development, with Mértola City Council and the Parish of Alcaria Ruiva as main partners. It is supported by the PROGRAMME BAIRROS SAUDÁVEIS (Healthy Neighbourhoods Programme) launched in 2020, a participative initiative promoted by the Portuguese Government to improve the quality of life in vulnerable territories.

Curator: Alexandra Cabral and Hugo Queirós
Producer: Hugo Queirós, Alexandra Cabral, Maks Tatiana and Margarida Palma
Organisation: Via Criativa Association – Design for Local Development
Collaboration: Fashion Materials II students in the 2nd Year pursuing the Fashion Design Degree.
(Faculty of Architecture of the University of Lisbon)
Partnership: Mértola City Council/Mértola Museum – Islamic Art
Support: Programa Bairros Saudáveis (Healthy Neighbourhoods Programme) – Portuguese Government

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