Designer Isa Fernandes, who created the concept of the ‘Ria Formosa Seahorse’ sculpture, and Olhão Mayor António Pina (Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP)

Olhão celebrates municipal holiday with unveiling of two sculptures

Olhão celebrated its municipal holiday on Tuesday (June 16) with the unveiling of two sculptures that pay tribute to the town’s cultural and natural heritage – one depicting a female fish factory worker and the other a Ria Formosa seahorse.

The first is a detailed and faithful homage to the women who worked at the town’s old fish factories.

Located on the roundabout of Avenida dos Operários Conserveiros near the Faropeixe and Conserveira do Sul factories, it depicts one of these women as she sits on a bench gutting a fish with scissors.

The sculpture was created by José Carlos Almeida and António Faustino and is made almost entirely from fibreglass. Only the bench and table were made with stainless steel.

The process involved a significant amount of research. Several photos of old fish factory workers from Olhão were provided to the artists by the local council to help them to recreate these historic figures and their specific traits.

As José Carlos Almeida explained, the way fish factory workers dressed and looked varied according to which region of Portugal they came from.

“But we had access to documents which helped us greatly,” Almeida told Barlavento newspaper.

The second sculpture has been erected on Avenida 5 de Outubro and pays homage to the Ria Formosa’s seahorse population, considered by local mayor António Pina as “part of the town’s heritage”.

The idea came from the mind of local designer Isa Fernandes, who was also the talent behind other local sculptures such as those located at Largo da Fábrica Velha and Largo do Gaibéu.

However, it was brought to life by Alexandru Groza, a Quarteira-based artist. To create the five-metre tall and 1.80-metre wide sculpture, Groza used around 5,000 pieces of ceramic material.

“In recent years, we have tried to call ourselves the ‘capital of Ria Formosa’. This comes with an increased responsibility on how we manage this area,” said the mayor. “We see the seahorse as our mascot and want it to become one of the symbols of Olhão.”

Original article written by Bruno Filipe Pires for Barlavento newspaper.

The making of ‘mulher operária conserveira’
Sculptor José Carlos Almeida at work
The unveiling of the sculpture – Olhão mayor António Pina (centre) with António Faustino (left) and José Carlos Almeida, who created the artwork (Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP)
Designer Isa Fernandes, who created the concept of the ‘Ria Formosa Seahorse’ sculpture, and Olhão Mayor António Pina (Photo: BRUNO FILIPE PIRES/OPEN MEDIA GROUP)