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A gallery with a twist

AS YOU walk into the courtyard of the Corte Real Gallery in Paderne, you realise that you have discovered something very special and unique. Owners, Tom Compton and Pedro Corte Real, have created a sanctuary where artists can paint, art lovers enjoy visiting, and a place where both are able to completely relax. The Resident’s Ruth Sharpe and Louise Pimm spent an afternoon with Tom in the fantastic setting of the gallery, exploring its history, ethos and future of one of Portugal’s most original and rustic artistic havens.

First opened in August 2004, Corte Real Gallery was converted by the two owners, Tom and Pedro, from an old farmhouse to an art gallery in the style of a traditional Portuguese home. They took the adventurous step of creating an art gallery from the ruin, after leaving the fast-paced world of Lacoste, Habitat and others in Paris and New York, to work in the tranquil setting of Paderne. Located in the hills around the back of Paderne, off the beaten track, this is an art gallery with a difference. There is a homely feel throughout the grounds, complete with Russell the dog, and a welcome cup of iced tea always on offer.

Its origins are as relaxed as its atmosphere. Tom described its beginning as an “accident, that’s why it’s fun, it’s not just a business,” and you certainly get that feeling when you wander around the many rooms.

The gallery has many different exhibits from artists hailing from Brazil to Norway, as well as local artists from the Algarve. The gallery’s philosophy is that the quality and feel of the work is more important than who painted it. “I hate the word professionals, painters are painters, it’s as simple as that,” Tom said, “we look for unique, one off designs, they have to have a certain something about them,” he said.

As well as paintings, the gallery also houses lamps made from glass, wood, light bulbs, silk rose petals and wood carvings. Many of the pieces are created from re-claimed wood, or materials that local people have brought in and donated for Tom to work on, for example, chairs, tables and sun loungers. They are produced in one of the two workshops in Silves and Caramageira. Jewellery is available, imported from Paris, as well as from a Dutch lady living in the Algarve.

Once the paintings have been received at the gallery, Tom then designs and creates a unique, one-off frame to complement the style of artwork. Corte Real also offers homewares – textiles, throws, bags and cushions – which are inspired by individual paintings in the gallery.

When you have finished your browse around the gallery, and step into the courtyard, you will be greeted with a selection of Italian Mascheroni animals, hand painted in Turin.

“Our hopes for the future are to branch out and have more homeware and pottery on offer. We are also planning the opening of a yoga area, which will overlook the pool and surrounding hills.”

“After opening, we have met many people and many of the artists have become friends of the gallery. “It’s a crazy place to have a gallery, but once people find us they always come back.”

Corte Real artists:

Jessica Dunn; Meinke Flessman; Pedro Corte Real; Mary de Lave; Clifford Martin; Garret Walsh; Marion Grant; Luísa Seabra; Sally Thirkettle; Tom Compton; Marie Emanual Billard; Sunshine Taylor.

Open everyday except Mondays from 10am to 6pm, follow the green and red signs through Paderne. For more information call 289 368 600 or visit their website at www.corterealarte.com