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Mértola Exhibition is in Fashion

Ermida de S. Sebastião (St. Sebastian Chapel) – from 18th May to 30th June 2022

The heritage of Mértola, particularly of the different museum units, was thus the starting point for the exercises of the 9th grade 2021/2022 school year in the subject of Visual Education, which involved design and fashion as artistic areas. The works developed are a result of the collaboration between the project ‘Designing Tomorrow’s World’, coordinated by designer Alexandra Cabral from Associação Via Criativa, and São Sebastião Secondary School, through its pedagogical project, implemented by teacher Nádia Torres.
The students started by photographing an object from the different sections of Mértola’s Museum, some chose other places within the historic centre or overlooking it; others chose contemporary works of art or architectural details. The exercise consisted of producing an embroidery, a seal and a logo. This was done using sewing, printing and graphic design techniques, generally used as creative tools in fashion design. After the exhibition, the works selected through a competition will go through a redesign process to be integrated both into the patterns of the garments created and in the corporate image of the SAFRA clothing brand.
The 9th-grade students’ exhibition is an example of how the museums’ collections contribute to the dissemination of local heritage but are also the target of innovation through new techniques and creative approaches, in Design, Textiles and Fashion. It is a fortunate coincidence that the exhibition site is the museum unit of the Ermida e Necrópole de São Sebastião (St. Sebastian Chapel and Necropolis), which is part of the Mértola Museum. As 2022 has been chosen as the European Year of Youth, the fact that the exhibition site is inside the grounds of the São Sebastião Primary, Middle and Secondary School is also a highlight, as the school is a fundamental reference for young people. It is important to mention the importance of the students through their work in the municipality’s cultural sustainability, renewing imagery through urban arts, Design and Fashion and creating new legacies of and for Mértola.
The ‘Designing Tomorrow’s World’ project consists of a sustainable model of participatory design in slow fashion, creating a fashion brand based on the culture and heritage of Mértola and Alentejo, the SAFRA brand. It is intended to have an economic and social impact, but also an impact on the environmental and health areas. In this context, the students’ contribution fulfilled several objectives inscribed in the project, such as the ‘integration and revitalisation of craft techniques, culture and heritage and the ‘transfer of urban/rural knowledge in the craft/design dichotomy’, both related to Fashion. The promoter of the project is Associação Via Criativa, whose main objective is the promotion of Design for Local Development. Mértola City Council and the Parish of Alcaria Ruiva are the main partners. ‘Designing Tomorrow’s World’ is supported by the Programa Bairros Saudáveis (Healthy Neighbourhoods Programme) launched in 2020, an initiative of a participatory nature, promoted by the Portuguese Government, to improve the quality of life in vulnerable territories.

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