Jacqueline de Montaigne has developed a worldwide following, so it’s especially fortuitous that we can see examples of her work adorning public buildings here in the Algarve.
Jacqueline de Montaigne creates highly original and inspirational artwork which can be found in international art galleries and on public buildings all over the world, including in São Brás de Alportel.
With an academic background in medical ethics and health sciences, Jacqueline only decided to pursue her artistic career full-time in 2018, having previously worked as a consultant for the Ministry of Health and as a director for IBFAN Portugal (International Baby Foods Action Network). Five years on, and she’s now completed over one hundred large-scale murals. Such is her talent, one of them – The Language of Flowers – was recognised by Street Art Cities as one of the world’s best murals. It was the first time a Portuguese woman has featured in their prestigious awards.
To say Jacqueline’s work is awe-inspiring would be an understatement. The scale of some of her creations are jaw-dropping – her most recent large-scale mural in São Brás de Alportel adorns a 200-sqm building in the heart of the city. As with all of her creations, there’s an emphasis on storytelling with the São Brás piece featuring a local girl named Inés. “She’s a dancer in the local folklore group where she also plays accordion,” said Jacqueline. “I love to feature local people and Inés and her friends are very proud of where they live and their traditions.”
Watercolour is Jacqueline’s preferred medium and regardless of whether she’s working on a canvas or even on concrete, she uses her skills to create the fluidity that’s inherent to watercolour-based creations. Jacqueline often illuminates her subjects with precious metals, making it a way of working that’s unique to her.
As remarkable as it might seem, Jacqueline is entirely self-taught. To my mind, this raises the question of whether artists are born or made. “I believe they’re born,” said Jacqueline. “To a certain extent, they can be made, but you do need an inherent talent for what you’re doing, whether that’s painting, music, or writing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no harm in studying art, so long as you have good teachers, but I can tell you that when I’m approached to take on work, no one ever asks me whether I’ve studied art.”
So, how does someone take that innate talent and earn a living as a professional artist? “To get noticed, you really need to create unique and eye-catching work. It’s also hard work. I often work 100 hours a week and it’s not solely about the painting – you need to understand the business side of things and have an ability to network and make good contacts.”
Jacqueline dedicates at least 20% of her annual artistic practice to volunteering and supporting social causes. “I am passionate about social change, especially mental illness awareness and women’s and children’s rights. This year, I have already supported a project in Guinea Bissau to bring awareness to the desperate need to end violence against women. Next week, I am in Romania, where I will be donating my fee so it can be used to finance art interventions in orphanages. I’ll end the year in Cabo Verde for another volunteer project.”
The two works in São Brás de Alportel were commissioned by the city council and there’s every chance a third will follow next year. Tomorrow will keep in contact with Jacqueline as seeing her ‘in action’ in the Algarve, creating her next work of art, is not to be missed. In the meantime, with her street art and passion for social justice, Jacqueline de Montaigne is making our neighbourhoods – and our world – better places to live. Long may that continue.