Every July, in the context of 180 Creative Camp, Abrantes receives more than a hundred strangers who are eager to bring some inspiration and new ideas to freshen up the city. With the seventh edition of 180 Creative Camp wrapped up, we wanted to collect our thoughts on a relationship that has been created between our participants, artists and the city, reflect on the identity of Abrantes and see how old generations can inspire new ones.
How come Abrantes? is thus a series of articles that will invite you to give some thought on these topics, starting with the first chapter 180 Creative Camp community.
The hilly, concentrated streets of Abrantes portray the beauty of Portuguese regional architecture. It didn’t take much time for the newcomers to realize that yellow colour is “the thing”, beautifully combined with other tons of white, green and blue around the walls and facades of the city. Abrantes is known for its flowers and a unique viewpoint it offers from the tower, located inside the castle. “I wish my city was like this”, could have been heard in the crowd of participants during their first tour around Abrantes.
Apart from the charm of the city, the silence and tranquility of it was received with some curiosity. Why is it that everything closes so early? No billboards in Abrantes? Where are all the people?
Little they knew that Abrantes, as many other Portuguese cities, live a very relaxed and easy going life style. There is no hurry and now that the summer heat comes out… There are indeed times it is hard to find that many locals moving around the city. The historical city centre, that served as the main location for most of the workshops at the 180 Creative Camp, has also been fading away in the last years. Most of the locals are now living out of the centre, leading thus to this notable calmness of the streets.
For many participants it was their first time in Portugal. For some others, Abrantes was the first place they visited in Europe. So how must it feel to come to such a small city like Abrantes from places like New York, London or Singapore? What can they find there? What can they bring to it?
You don’t get as distracted about your surroundings, you are much more inclined to have a conversation with people because it is in a smaller city…- Ioana Lupascu
Ioana Lupascu, a participant from Romania, based now in London.
I have been to a quite few workshops before which are either specialized in design or architecture… They are more based in bigger cities, in capitals. And I didn’t know how I felt about it being in a smaller city initially. But now I realize it is so much nicer. It is a completely different experience having it in a place you easily feel familiar to. You don’t feel lost, wherever you go in the city you are automatically encounter another 180 Creative Camp participant. You don’t get as distracted about your surroundings, you are much more inclined to have a conversation with people because it is in a smaller city … You can have slower path and that’s okay.
Jordy Van Den Nieuwendijk is a Dutch illustrator, painter and drawing teacher at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. During the 180 Creative Camp, he led a workshop with the aim of creating an identity for a micro-nation with the use of brushes and ink.
I am very much into wandering around the quiet streets, mostly meeting old people that are local.
I enjoyed that there is time to actually think a little bit. You can read, you can sit outside and think about what it is that you like to do…
Charissa Kow, a social media content creator that flew to Portugal from Singapore just to participate at 180 Creative Camp.
It’s a very beautiful place. It is very quiet and the first day we came here it was Sunday. I think all the shops were closed and there was nobody… Very interesting experience to walk through the streets with nobody at all. And I was thinking: did they close a small town just for the Camp? It is nice to see such a small place because after a while you recognize some of the old people here, walking along the streets with their dogs. It is quite cute.
During this kind of camps it is something that you remember doing when you were a kid. I think it is important as well to do this when you are older… — Lorena Cao
Lorena Cao, a participant from Mallorca in Spain, based now in Berlin.
During this kind of camps it is something that you remember doing when you were a kid. I think it is important as well to do this when you are older… It is important to learn from people, especially in our age. I think it is interesting to see how we evolve living together every day. I think it is a nice thing and we should do that more often, especially in a little city like this and with all these creative people we have met.
An opportunity to “connect” through offline, learn from someone through talks while sharing a meal or walking around the city…
A week of creativity in Abrantes is also a week of leisure and inspiration, valuable knowledge and networking. We are sure that many of the connections made during the 180 Creative Camp will flourish into some beautiful projects and memorable friendships. We believe that providing this opportunity to “connect” through offline, learn from someone through talks while sharing a meal or walking around the city where there is no need to rush, is a chance for young creators to emerge themselves into the atmosphere and take the most out of it. Abrantes might be a small city, but it can definitely create a whole new world for those who let themselves experience it.