E X P L O R A T I O N  A N D  C O N N E C T E D N E S S

Ancient art practices captivated my youth with their creativity, ways of relating and connection to their ecosystem. The genius and ability of great past sailors, inventors and artists; the powerful spiritual and symbolic connection of artistic representations of nature. These seemed to have meanings that transcended the Western art I was familiarised with. These art practices spoke to me about a harmonic relationship with nature, a profound sense of calm that I longed for but also felt a natural, innate expectation to have, despite what I would witness in my social surroundings.

During my sabbatical, as I looked with attentive eyes into nature’s manifestations – its patterns and shapes, compositions and geometry -, I came to a deeper appreciation of those references and the meanings behind their work. More even so, due to the challenges we currently face regarding the environment, that sensibility and integration became a vital part of what I wanted to pursue.

Ligia Oliveira

Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa mentions that until his forties, he used to divide his library by separating architecture and non-architecture books - until he came to the realisation that, fundamentally, there is no difference between those: all is the work with and about humankind. I came to deal with my own library and body of work in the same way: any study comes to the aid of a more complete understanding of our common humanity. Each book read and landscape felt contributes to the understanding of aesthetics, colour theory, sensibility and the functioning of the human mind and life - a knowledge I bring into the different facets of my work.

One of the things I loved the most when studying urban design was the observation of the multiple elements that define a physical city. Once we think we can explain an urban transformation through the understanding of the law and policies, we have go deeper and study the social, economical and cultural processes; the technological, and quite often, environmental. Each discipline is tied to another in a never-ending chain of events, perspectives and scales. It’s also a captivating mystery, how all these actions and consequences eventually end up making remarkable places of extraordinary beauty and meaning. These convey underlying qualities of a myriad of aesthetical aspects, materials, skill and the profound revelation of intangible forces of an atmosphere, appealing to our sensory experience as if reminding us of an innate language, long forgotten: we just know. That wider lenses, working with different scales and the intangible forces of place are treasured qualities I keep in my current practice.

By bringing this approach into my work, I am able to share nature and its benefits in a more complete way; so many are disconnected from nature, and don't value it enough. There isn't enough work touching and reaching people about these critical subjects for their own wellbeing.

Behind each of my artworks there is a life-long dedication to the study of art history, in its fascinating large scope: the several meanings art-making has held throughout time, specially those committed to environment and community; the historical role of women in the arts, from their creations related to the measurement of time and its cycles, to their representation in art history and their own biographies, throughout the ages. The inquiry to understand the individual paths of creative genius, their choices of materials and techniques. There’s something mysterious and incredibly grounding in connecting to different moments of our collective ancestry; a tremendous sense of curiosity and peace. I aim to bring that wonder into my work, with the timeless feeling and rhythm of nature for people to experience, once again.

I perform specific research into the subjects of each series - an intensive reading into what makes each place, landscape, subject, unique; what are the challenges, and what are the solutions currently presented by science. This was very present in my series Between the Sea and the Shore, for which I read a massive amount of research, including United Nation’s official reports on the environment and specifically on seagrass meadows - the arduous work of bringing these incredible habitats into the public eye, the need and benefits of its regeneration. I also performed several fieldwork research - going where seagrass meadows are to experience them myself, to observe directly the shapes, colours and rich atmosphere of this incredible habitats.

Storytelling has been a central part of every culture since the beginning of humankind. Telling the stories of subjects such as seagrass meadows allows for its beauty to be shared, while forging its connection with us.

The learning about each subject is performed by direct observation and by reading many sources of documentation - academic and institutional, across the disciplines of architecture, neuroscience, design, psychology, economy, policy-making, geography, biology and other related environmental sciences, in a constant update of state-of-the-art knowledge and insight.

The science of perception has been unveiling how abstract representations can conform qualities perceived by the human mind as relating to natural ones, producing calming, nurturing effects. All the elements of an artwork, from colours to textures, have the power to touch our senses in ways that can have a strong impact into our wellbeing. This is among the knowledge I'm constantly researching about.