Created by local artist Daniela da Silva, LUZALBA takes inspiration from the wild and beautiful Algarvian coast
A visual artist and art therapy researcher based in Raposeira, in Vila do Bispo, Daniela graduated in Design and later studied Fine Arts and Sculpture. Her work ranges from visual art, sculpture, performances as well as old print techniques, wherein she uses natural elements mixed with ancient rituals and scientific references that “introduce an unusual vision of art, affording mystical senses from other dimensions”.
After graduating, her artistic journey took her to Venice, Italy, where she lived for eight years and worked alongside many influential artists. Although she had established herself as a successful artist, “something was missing”. Daniela felt she had a hole to fill but had no idea what with. So, she trusted her instincts and returned to the Algarve.
For a while, she worked in a surf lodge in Raposeira and her soul was beginning to feel full again as she found herself “surrounded by nature, waves and quality of time and resources”. Inspired by her environment, she started creating.
LUZALBA is an artistic brand, which currently consists of Daniela’s popular necklaces and other jewellery items, her fascinating fish prints, and her collages. Everything is made in her studio, and the colours and materials used and the singularities in each piece reflect those of the Atlantic coast and the unique southern Portuguese landscape.
According to the artist, everything started when she was looking for some jewellery for herself. “Simplicity is hard to find, especially for those of us who are not used to jewellery, so I wanted to find something small, simple, natural but also resistant.” She searched far and wide in several stores, online and in markets, but was unsuccessful in her mission. So, she used her creative expertise and created her own.
Nowadays, the LUZALBA Original necklace is a solid product recognised by many customers around the world. Daniela uses amazonite gemstone in her pieces, which is said to have “healing properties, and can help with self-discovery and in the empowering of the search of our own truths”. It is commonly known as the stone of courage and, throughout history, it was believed that legendary female warriors used the gemstone to turn their anxieties into harmony and balance.
Another string to her bow is her collage work. The principle of this project was to explore the relationship between the sky and the ocean. Using her own analogue photographs, she created a series of stunning, distinct collages in different sizes and combinations. Thanks to her continuous research about pagan rituals, esoteric worlds and exotic scenes in this part of the world, the stories behind these images have achieved a remarkable perception value.
Having spent a lot of time fishing herself, Daniela’s latest concept acts as a tribute to the Portuguese sea and the fishing communities. To create stunning visuals, she uses fresh fish from the west coast and employs a traditional Japanese method of printing called Gyotaku, which dates to the 1800s and was originally used to record fishermen’s catches.
To create the prints, she applies black ink (usually squid ink) to the fish and transfers the resulting image onto 100% cotton fabric. Each fish series are limited to a maximum of five art pieces and the resources used are consciously selected, including the origin of the fish, which are captured using traditional, local methods such as spearfishing. To ensure nothing goes to waste, the fish can still be eaten afterwards.
Another method Daniela uses for the fish prints is Cyanotype, which is a chemical process using two solutions – potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium – and a little help from the sun. Discovered in 1842, this process was quite popular up to the 20th century as an inexpensive method for reproducing photographs or documents and for making impressions of biological specimens in the field. Essentially, by exposing the mixture to sunlight, it turns into a stunning cyan blue colour, which makes for striking prints.
In addition to working on her own brand, Daniela is also an Art and Design teacher at the Aljezur International School and runs several workshops as part of LUZALBA’s concept. The workshops are around three hours long and are available for private groups around Algarve, for a minimum of five and up to 10 participants approximately, with all materials provided.
The Portuguese coast is indisputably beautiful and admired by many, and Daniela’s unique and distinct interpretation shows a different perspective of its magnificence.
By ALEX BRENNAN