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In 1986 Ar.Co’s Executive Director, Manuel Costa Cabral, invites the ceramist Alberto Cidraes to set up a course in Ceramics at the Quinta de S. Miguel, financed by the European Social Fund. In 1987, Cidraes coordinates the construction of a high temperature wood-fired kiln using a japanese scheme (norborigma) and school training begins. At the same time, Ar.Co organizes the Ceramics International Symposium – Alcobaça 87 with the participation of  national and international ceramists. In the following years, foreign guests will share their knowledge, orient courses and workshops, exhibit their work publicly in Portugal and help consolidate an experimental structure for Ar.Co’s Ceramics program. The July 1988 workshop remains a crucial landmark, thanks to the participation of  Christopher Gustin, Arnold Zimmerman, Patrick Loughran and Nancy Smith, who initiate an important connection between Ar.Co and UMASS - University of Massachussets-Dartmouth and show their own work in the exhibition “Cerâmica na Quinta de S. Miguel”. Other international collaborations will follow: Aline Favre (Switzerland), Gilberto Jardineiro, Megumi Yuasa and Cristiano Quirino (Brasil), Jeremy Fiennes (who builds a new large Norborigma wood-fired kiln with the students in 1989) Barry Bartlett (Bennington College, Vermont), Patrick Picarelle (Belgium), Masayuki Inoue and Yuki Nakaigawa (Japan). An exchange program is set up with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), bringing the school’s Head of Ceramics, Bill Farrell, to Ar.Co and sending out Portuguese students to Chicago. The presence of Graça Costa Cabral at the École Nationale d’Art Décoratif of Limoges in 1991, together with the contributions from that school in the years that follow (Jean-François Demeure, Jean Jaques Dupuy, Jean Charles Prolongeau and Joel Capella-Lardeux) will help introduce porcelain into Ar.Co’s Ceramics programs. In the early 90’s Anne Kraus (USA) works and orients courses in Almada, followed by Luís Raposo (also USA). Almada’s City Council puts up an exhibition at the Oficina de Cultura ( “Ar.Co: Cerâmica 1994”) that shows the school already has a consistent production of its own making. The training programs will also include more and more national contributions: Estrela Pais Vieira, Alda Reis, Leonor Irra, Manuel Osório de Castro, Bota Filipe, Helena Abrantes, Maria José Oliveira, Ana Ferreira, Maria Felizol, Paulo Óscar, Alexandre Rebotim, Maria Oliveira and Bela Silva. The intense flux of international exchanges contributes to the exploration of new techniques, materials, equipment and pedagocical contents (high temperature firing with reduction, Raku, paper kilns, liquid porcelain) while theoretical and historical themes and issues are brought in by guest lecturers (José Meco, Sérgio Taborda, Ana Viegas, Eduardo Nery, António Marques and Rafael Calado). Under the successive Heads of department (Graça Costa Cabral, António Marques and Teresa Ramos) the training programs and the exhibitions of work will multiply outside the school’s perimeter: “Ar.Co's Ceramics 1996”  takes place at the Oficina da Cultura in Almada, “Three Years of Ceramics at Ar.Co” (1998) at the National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo) and the Ceramics and Jewellery departments collaborate for the  initiative “Os Dias de Tavira” (2001). A formal collaboration is initiated in 2001/2002 with the Museu de Cerâmica das Caldas da Rainha and in 2005 the Almada Municipal Gallery presents the exhibition “Oficinas de Cerâmica do Ar.Co 2004-2005”, a turning point for the department in terms of its public visibility. Between 2001 and 2005 “Clay and Ceramics” is taught at the Quinta de S. Miguel as part of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa’s Conservation and Restoration Bachelor Degree. Elsa Figueiredo, Carmina Anastácio e Martim Santa Rita become guest teachers from 2005 onwards. The technical, critical and compositional dimensions of the training are emphasized, as is the experimentation with traditional skills and techniques, like the  “Empedrado” (Nisa) or the “Verguinha” (Óbidos), with the help of craft specialists (invitations in 2006 and 2007 to António Pequito from Niza and Luísa Tavares of the Óbidos Clay Workshop). Some of the training will eventually concentrate of very specific techniques: Andreas Stocklein and Stefanea Barale teach “Azulejaria”, “Terra Sigilata” and “Smoke Firing” in 2008 and 2010, respectively. In 2010, under the generic title “Ceramics in History”, the department will promote research that connects its contents with other areas, such as architecture and archaeology. The 2012 “Black tableware” workshop includes firing in “Soenga” kiln firings with the participation of the City Council of Seixal/Seixal Municipal Ecomuseum, the Almada Centre for Archaeology, the Archaeology Centre of Lisbon University-UNIARQ and students from the Faculdade de Letras of the Lisbon University.  The department will also start to organize training programs for other publics and institutions (St.Julian’s “Summer School” 2010 and 2011 and “Workshop for Teachers” 2012), will accept professional traineeships (CENCAL and Escola Secundária António Arroio), will participate in exhibition projects and will supply consultant and execution services and technical support to national and international artists’ projects. In 2016/17 Maria Ana Vasco Costa will become the new head of department, having shared that responsability with Teresa Ramos already since 2013/14. The program will keep its orientation of including as great a diversity of techniques as possible in what regards construction, glazing and the use of the kilns while promoting a more intensely experimental attitude. Students are encouraged to explore “errors” and accidents as part of the expanded field of Ceramics and judge their work according to the more general criteria of the visual arts. This general orientation will be further developed when, from February 2019 onwards, Vasco Futscher steps in to share with Maria Ana Vasco Costa the responsability for the department. 

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    Building the wood-fired Norborigma kiln under the technical guidance of Alberto Cidraes. Quinta de S. Miguel, Almada, 1987.

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    "International Ceramics Symposium - Alcobaça 87". Angus Suttie.

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    Works by American ceramists at Ar.co. 1988.

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    Workshop Potter's Wheel with Ricardo Lopes. Ar.Co, Almada, 2016. images: Joana Gonçalves Pereira.

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    Project for ceramics architectural surface - Maria Ana Vasco Costa. Exhibition "Scholarship Students & Finalists 014" at the Museu de Lisboa, Pavilhão Preto, 2015.

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    Works by Masayuki Inoue who orients a workshop at Quinta de S. Miguel, 1990.

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    Information sheet - Ceramics conferences at Ar.Co, 1996.

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    "International Ceramics Symposium - Alcobaça 87". Michel Moglia.

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    Workshop on the "Verguinhas" technique with Luísa Tavares of the Óbidos Clay Workshop. Ar.Co, Quinta de S. Miguel, Almada, 2007.

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    New wood-fired Norborigma kiln built by students oriented by Jeremy Fiennes in 1989, Quinta de S. Miguel.

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    Ar.Co Open Day at St Julian's School, Carcavelos, jun 2007.

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    Ceramics department - Paper kilns with Martim Santa Rita. Quinta de S. Miguel, Almada, 2010.

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    Construction of portable kiln and Raku firing with Martim Santa Rita. Quinta de S. Miguel, Almada, 2014.

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    Plaster and latex molds workshop oriented at Ar.Co Almada by invited artist Katie Lagast, 2015.

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    Workshop with American ceramists at Quinta de S. Miguel, Almada, 1988. Patrick Loughran.

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    Works by Ana Pinto Afonso at the exhibition "Autumn Show Part I", held at the Quinta de S. Miguel in Almada, September 2015.

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    Ceramics Exhibition by the AR.CO Students. British Council, Lisbon, May 1990.