Creative colourful cooperative

Pictures by Kyle Rodriguez

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine March 2016

The art on display in Fábrica dos Sentidos has one thing in common: namely that it doesn’t have anything in common. There are incredible intricate one-line-drawings, but also didgeridoos. You’ll find new urban graffiti next to old traditional azulejos. Oh, and don’t forget about the books, the second hand clothes and what looks like giant Christmas balls hanging from the ceiling.

There are plenty of spaces to sit and chill, but no two chairs or pillows are the same. The whole place smells of incense and if you need to go to the loo, there’s the choice between boxer shorts and bra’s. The description could go on and on, but if you’re creative, you should check this place out yourself (and if you aren’t creative then you should check it out as well, just to know what you’re missing).

Funky and colourful, Fábrica dos Sentidos is Faro’s answer to Camden Town. It’s the project of Marco Tomé (41), artist name Mató Le Freak, who was born in the Algarve and has been into arts since his childhood. “My grandmother took me to the opera in Paris (France) when I was six years old – an experience that left an impression. I love the world of art and have wanted to do something like this for all of my life.”

“When I was 15, I already sent a proposal to the Câmara Municipal de Olhão for a project involving a cooperative of artists.” Still, young Marco had to wait for a bit. Studies, courses and working in performing arts all over Europe followed until he set first foot in the old factory hall in Faro that is Fábrica dos Sentidos in December 2012 and started transforming it into the place it is today.

Normally, artist collectives like these can be found in bigger cities, such as Camden Town in London (UK) and Christiania in Copenhagen (Denmark). Why did Marco decide to set his project up in the Algarve? “It was needed here,” he explains. “Culture and arts aren’t developed here at all; people in the Algarve see it as something for the rich or snobby.”

“We try to change their point of view and make them come closer. Both to the art and to their own culture; poetry, for example, used to be something traditional Portuguese. Now, it’s almost forgotten. Also, in big Portuguese cities like Porto and Lisbon places like this already exist. Here in the countryside not, and it’s important to have them. Because being an artist in Lisbon is easy; being one in the Algarve is a struggle.”

The aim of the Fábrica is to build a collective of creative people, exchange ideas, and help everyone to develop. “Artists need to organise themselves in order to survive,” says Marco. According to him, there’s also a role for local politics: “They should be included in projects like these as small entrepreneurs help the Portuguese economy. Big golf resorts or hotels aren’t actually such a big help to Portugal as most of that money goes abroad, to foreign investors. With local projects, it stays in the area. Faro-based hostels and guest houses in the area have helped us immense.”

Everyone who wants to develop themselves creatively is welcome at the Fábrica dos Sentidos, as is every style. Artists are encouraged to join, also if they haven’t got the means or money to realise their dreams. “Our goal is to show, share, improve our knowledge and discuss: ideas are more important than money,” Marco insists, explaining that everyone on the project is an unpaid volunteer. “We don’t need money to succeed, we just need to go ahead and do things.” As a result of this alternative approach, the Fabrica is constantly evolving.

A small selection of what’s currently on offer: hula hoop, circus, dance, theatre, film and cooking classes. Together, the various hands on activities form almost an antidote against today’s hectic lifestyle.

Marco explains: “In the last decades, people have moved far away from simple pleasures such as reading a book. It’s easier to turn on the TV. However, society is already changing back to basics again. People come here and discover – drink some natural grown tea, enjoy a performance, read a book. They choose to live a real life instead of losing it thinking about how to get the latest make of mobile phone and pay off their credit card bills. They always leave with a smile. I see it happening every day.” Marco thinks about it again and concludes: “Sometimes the general population think I’m crazy. I see that as a compliment.”


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine March 2016

Posted in Features, People.