Tag Archives: artists

Encounters #6 Swallows – Andorinhas

“True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings.” – William Shakespeare


If it’s true that one swallow does not make a spring, as Aristotle already knew, does it then mean that many swallows do make summer?

That should mean that wherever I go in Portugal, there’s eternal summer, for the swallows are everywhere. Blue and red, yellow or black. In one iconic shape but all sizes. On electrical wires, walls and fridges.

For a long time I just accepted their existence, saw them, liked them, felt that their presence made me happy. Until, only recently I found out that there’s more to their existence, here in the land of fado and saudades, of big waves, green wines and explorers of the worlds gone by.

According to local legend, swallows – or andorinhas, as they are called here –  are symbols for family and home; the place for which they always have saudades, to which they always return. Also, very romantically, they find a single partner for life and thus have become symbols for love, loyalty and faithfulness.

In the 1890s, the Portuguese artist Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro, one of the most influential people of his time, started to design and produce little colorful swallows in his ceramics factory in Caldas da Rainhas in Central Portugal. Quickly, his handcrafted beautiful birds gained popularity, and the exchange of swallows, not only between lovers, has become a token for harmony, happiness and prosperity in the home.

And, of course, seeing them in real life, they are simply, magically beautiful, and, after all, they do bring the summer.

Thank you, swallows! – Obrigada andorinhas!

“HORiNg” – by JP Meyer

JP Meyer, one of my favourite local artists, created “HORiNg” for the Velvet Exhibition at the KKNK 2013 in Oudtshoorn.

He says he would be delighted to donate the rhino work to any institution or organization that is working to save the rhino and that would also like to own it.



Description of work:

Long before the birth of Aphrodite, from the severed testicles of Uranus, aphrodisiacs have fascinated mankind in the pursuit of energy, love and sexual rapture.

In his book, “The Doctrine of Signatures”, the 17th century herbalist, Jacob Boehme explores a form of sympathetic magic in which like affects like.  “The signature of things” means that a herb or other object often resembles the malady it is meant to treat. Yellow flowers, for example becomes an effective treatment for urinary complaints and rhino horn excites the libido.  Although this doctrine of signatures was formalized in early modern times, the theme of natural objects’ shapes having significance is an ancient one and not confined to Western thought. Similarity-based thinking is still encountered in alternative medicines such as homeopathy, ethnic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine.

The work I made for “VELVET”  explores the continued belief in and pursuit of potions, herbs, food and other substances which is believed to stimulate sexual desire and energy and enhance erectile function. It also attempts to address the supply and demand of global trade and the impact it has on endangered plants, land- and sea animals.

 JP Meyer

Thank you, JP!