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My country through our eyes

Rodrigues, Cristina (2016) My country through our eyes. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

My original ambition for the research work underpinning this thesis was to study and register Portuguese territories with low population density. As explored here, my motivation centred on doing research through observing the effects of several years of migration by younger generations to main urban centres in Portugal, namely Porto and Lisbon, as this had left physical marks in the rural territory. The evidence of human decline was so visible in the abandoned buildings, streets and plots of land to the extent that some of these areas looked like ghost villages, where a human soul was hard to find. This was the face of depression. My approach to social inclusion in settings affected by human and environmental des-ertification presents a model for transforming oral traditions into something tangible through collaboration between artists and artisans, and by (re)presenting this knowledge (back) in new ways to rural and urban centres. The present research study has been a journey across architecture and art, Portugal and England and also a journey from urban to rural Portugal. It shows that it is possible to retain an authorial voice as an artist, whilst developing a model for participation and social inclusion rooted in issues which are shared by a whole nation. It presents a form of practice-led research that cherishes the art, as well as the people who live and work alongside the artist.

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