Pedro Serrano comes from a long line of collectors. His grandfather was an antique dealer and imported interesting old items to sell at his shop in Lisbon. Pedro has never forgotten his childlike fascination with these antiquities, and he and his six siblings always dreamed of acquiring their own treasures.
WORDS Sophie Sadler
As an adult, Pedro started his own collections. Through his Portuguese heritage he feels a connection with the ocean and maritime objects. As a vet, he has an affinity with animals. For years, he has trawled auctions, antique shops and markets to enhance his collection of objects and pictures related to the sea and animals. He also has a personal collection of pocket watches– some dating back to the 18th century.
Although a vet, he originally moved to the Algarve from Lisbon as a fish inspector for the local market, ensuring that vendors met food safety requirements. He also acquired a workspace in Luztor in Praia da Luz to make into a veterinary clinic. However, the bureaucracy of getting permits frustrated him, so the premises stayed empty. In the meantime, his wife Helena, a school teacher, started to become slightly exasperated that his collections were taking up more and more room in their apartment. Pedro, therefore, started to move some of his collection into his unused vet practice.
After 32 years as a school teacher, Helena became tired of the system and wished to embark on a lifestyle change and harness her creativity. She looked at her husband’s storage space and had the idea of turning it into a shop to sell some of Pedro’s collection and allow her to spend her days upcycling old objects and creating handmade items.
After working tirelessly to clear all of the clutter, she opened Gaaleria. The space is a welcoming and intriguing blend of fascinating objects, both old and new, which is a dream to browse. Helena is obviously completely happy in her new space and works on her creations while welcoming people in to find a unique object that will give their home some character.
“Of course, we know that young people like new objects, however, people’s homes come alive with a few unique items that tell a story,” says Pedro. Many of his purchases have a tale to tell, like the African chief’s chair. There is also a fascinating instrument which comes from an old steam boat, which was used for the crew on deck to give instructions to the crew below deck. An old wooden fishing rod stands in a corner that was owned by an English Duke.
The shop has many beautiful paintings of local maritime themes. Helena tells me, “One painting was bought by a young couple who wanted something interesting to hang on their wall in Stockholm. Another older couple bought a grandfather clock for their apartment in the Algarve as it had always been a dream to have one.” She admits that many of the older residents of the village sometimes just pop in for a chat.
Helena has also started transforming some objects that no longer have a use in the modern world and giving them a new purpose. She has just transformed Pedro’s grandfather’s gramophone cabinet into a washstand, which incorporates a wash basin.
In our modern “throw away” culture it was a lovely surprise to find a local shop celebrating antiquity and placing importance on the stories that old objects have to tell. Helena and Pedro have created a box of delights for the local community.
Rua Helena do Nascimento Baptista Luz (Next to the pharmacy)