If you visit Ponte de Lima, you’re bound to see at least one of the stone sculptures made by the Sequeiros brothers. I’ve admired their work and photographed it on previous trips but this time, I had the opportunity to visit their workshop and showroom in Calheiros.
The grassy verge in front the of the reception area is covered with examples of their work, from plaques to religious and folkloric statues and modern figurines. As I admire their handiwork, clouds of white dust billow out from the covered but open-sided work area from which intermittent sounds of grinding almost drown out conversation.
Sculptures with stories
The oldest of the three brothers, Martinho, tells me the stories behind some of the pieces, his greying hair dusty with powdered stone from a piece he’s currently working on. “This one has a sad story behind it,” he says, pointing to a sculpture of a shoe shine man and his seated customer. “We were on our way to the Fair in Lisbon when we had an accident. The lorry was a write-off and most of the pieces, including this one, were damaged. Luckily, me and my brothers weren’t seriously injured and we managed to arrange for another truckload of pieces to be sent down so we could still take part in the fair. We repaired this one when we got home.”
The annual International Handicraft Fair in Lisbon, along with the one in Vila do Conde, are important events for showcasing their sculptures. After 25 years, however, it’s important to turn up with something new to interest collectors. “We started making statues with different types of stone,” explains Martinho as he shows me the multicoloured collection of miniature monks and saintly figures on a shelf in the showroom. “This black one is made from schist, which is very difficult to work with. These limestone pieces are popular and we’re also working with river pebbles.” Of these three modern mediums, I prefer the smooth grey river pebbles.
Martinho trained as a stonemason when he left school and set up his own business in 1981. His brothers, Eliseu and Diogo joined him in the trade and together they decided to develop their skills and produce more ambitious, creative stone sculptures. Their back catalogue includes ornate fireplaces, coats of arms, municipal statues and, one of my favourites, a giant granite wine bottle decorated with vine leaves. Another wonderful piece has three boys in toy cars sitting atop a montage of traditional boys’ and girls’ childhood games.
Sadly, the economic crisis has affected the demand for decorative stonework and a large part of their current work involves traditional civic stone-masonry. Hopefully, circumstances will change and allow them to put their artistic skills and creativity to full use again.
For more details or enquiries, visit their website: www.pedrassequeiros.pt
Do you have a favourite among these sculptures?
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