Visiting the artist Thomas Schittek and his Óbidos Ceramic Academy
Óbidos is a town of about 3,000 inhabitants and is located 80 km north of Lisbon, capital of Portugal. In this picturesque town you get the feeling of being right in the middle ages, because almost all of the buildings from this period have been preserved. The whole place is surrounded by a city wall that can be walked on.
Immediately before the gate that leads into the old town of Óbidos, there is the Óbidos Ceramic Academy, which was founded by Thomas Schittek. The German painter who is known beyond the borders of Portugal has lived in Portugal with his family for over 20 years. In his studio he offers artists of different styles, such as painting, theater and, of course, ceramic art, the opportunity to develop their creativity and work freely.
Many years ago, Thomas Schittek specialized in modern ceramic art and teaches young talents old Portuguese craftsmanship. In addition to many art projects that he undertakes with and for schools and kindergartens, Schittek is also engaged in other “collaborations” in the region that young people open up innovative ideas for the future.
In his studio I could experience firsthand how young artists cut ceramic tiles in custom shapes to own designs and paint it with special pigments and ground glass. For this, it needs already some experience because the actual color and structure will be visible only after firing. The color pigments are rather colorless in its original condition. After painting the tiles, they are baked in a special oven at about 1000 degrees for 24 hours. The results are fantastic, as it can be seen on a beautiful large mural that was created by a kindergarten class under the guidance of Thomas Schittek.
Thomas Schittek raves about his disciples and barely speaks of his own art. Moderately, he mentioned that he works every day from 7-9 in the morning on his own projects. The rest of the day he devotes himself to his students, yet his columns and murals are simply breathtaking. Partially up to 9 meters high columns are made by Schittek, which can be admired in churches and museums. The designs reflect the elements of nature, animals and landscapes. The colors have an incredible force and express pure joy. The pillars withstand wind and weather and, when the temperatures allows it, even stand outside in the winter. I myself have been a fan of his art for many years and rejoice every day to “my” column that the Portuguese sun can shine for me to even gloomy days.
Muito obrigado, Thomas Schittek!