Vaughan Willmore speaks with the owners of Sentire, a local business dedicated to developing environmentally friendly projects and making the most of the owners’ artistic and architectural expertise.
When I first visited the Costume Museum in São Brás de Alportel in April of this year, one of the highlights was the chance to watch conservation and restoration specialist Patrícia Varela at work.
Patrícia was painstakingly and lovingly restoring one of the museum’s many delightful murals, each of which dates back several decades to when the building was used as a bank, and bank managers had the discretion to commission such work! Intrigued, I spoke with Patrícia to learn more about her work.
I asked Patrícia about the restoration work I witnessed at the museum and how she went about doing that. “Firstly,” she said, “I started with the chemical cleaning of the dirt and the old varnish that was turning the mural yellow. After that, I consolidated parts of the mural that needed it and removed fillings previously applied with poor materials. After that, I refilled and painted the missing gaps and applied the varnish.”
Patrícia added, “The cleaning is the most difficult aspect but also the most enjoyable. It requires patience and expertise so you don’t remove the pictorial layer but it’s also the part where you see the painting coming to life again, as it was originally painted by the artist.”
Patrícia and her husband, Rui Moura Jerónimo, have been inspired to establish Sentire – a new business dedicated to developing environmentally-friendly projects – making the most of their combined expertise.
Patrícia and Rui met at high school in Faro and have been together for eleven years. Patrícia has a degree in Cultural Heritage and Archaeology from the University of Algarve and a Masters in Conservation and Restoration Sciences from the University of Lisbon. Rui has a Masters in Architecture, also from the University of Lisbon, and is an active member of the Order of Architects.
After completing university, and for Patrícia, a two-year stint in the army, this engaging couple worked for private sector companies in Rome and Lisbon, using their time well, absorbing the atmosphere, art, and architecture of two of the world’s most beautiful cities. After several years of paid employment, they became frustrated at the lack of creative autonomy and in 2019 established Sentire, which is based in Faro.
Rui described how the word Sentire has, in the Italian language, a double meaning. “It can mean ‘feel’, just like in English, but it also means ‘hear’. We felt it a good name as we have a shared belief that in this digital world, art and architecture can help people to listen and connect with each other more.”
Despite the obvious challenges of the last 18 months, the couple have been busy working on numerous public and private sector projects. Rui explains, “We believe the correct use of space, light and materials significantly contributes to improving quality of life. I’m especially proud of a project I did with a small lot in Loulé that was transformed into a T2 with a garage and a garden. This was quite an achievement, given it’s in the somewhat cramped historical centre of the city.”
It was truly inspiring to talk to Patrícia and see the quality of their craft. You can see more of their work on their website and at the Costume Museum itself, where Patrícia hopes to return soon to restore the remaining three murals.
As for the future, Patrícia and Rui are keen to undertake a wide range of projects both here in Portugal and abroad. I’ve no doubts they’ll achieve their ambitions and, with their combined expertise, help improve people’s quality of life by bringing art and architecture back to life.