As Bravas (The Brave)

Photos by Paulo Pimenta, based on a PELE project

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“In the mountains of Marão in northern Portugal, we (re)discover our ancestors, women who toil and endure. They whisper silent memories and sing to ward off the loneliness of their daily endeavours. Barefoot keepers of memories of hardships, of stories and chants of old, all the while with a glint of the future in their eye.

The cloak they wear is made from nature’s offerings, collected on their daily journey and sewn by their seasoned hands. It too grows, flourishes and withers during the creation process.

This exhibition celebrates these brave women, living mythological beings, archetypes of nature in its purest and most beautiful form.”

Texto de PELE – Social and Cultural Association


A collective creation developed during the project ENXOVAL – Tempo e Espaço de Resistência (HOPE CHEST – Time and Space of Resistance), financed by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation´s PARTIS initiative. The project has been exploring the issues of gender equality through artistic practices since 2019, bringing together community groups from Porto and Amarante.

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Participants in the Enxoval project Alice Gomes, Ana Miranda, Angelina Leite, António Lopes, Emília Ferreira, Fátima Machado, Maria da Assunção Mendes, Maria da Glória Ribeiro, Maria da Graça Mendes, Maria das Dores Teixeira, Maria de Fátima Azevedo, Maria Ribeiro
Paulo Pimenta
Photography post-production
Mário O Santos
Sandra Neves e Rita Cantante
Audio compositions Inês Lapa, a partir de testemunhos das participantes
Sound mixing Ricardo Carvalho
Artistic directors Inês Lapa, Maria João Mota, Paulo Pimenta e Sandra Neves
Producers Carina Moutinho e Beatriz Brás
Promotor PELE
Sponsored by The Amarante City Council and CLAP – Centro Local de Animação e Promoção Rural

Financed by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation / PARTIS initiative


Paulo Pimenta is a photojournalist at the Público newspaper and a cultural agent intervening in different artistic fields. He holds a degree in photography from the Artistic School of Porto (ESAP) and teaches at the Porto School of Journalism (ESJ). Paulo has received several awards over the years, including “Estação Imagem Mora” (2010) and “Estação Imagem Viana do Castelo” (2017). His work has been published in many books and international publications, most notably his photographs of choreographer Pina Bausch at Internationales Tanzfestival (2008). In recent years, Paulo has participated in different projects, including association PELE’s Enxoval (Hope Chest) project.

PELE is an association based in Porto that develops artistic creation projects as spaces for reflection, action, and civic and political engagement to enhance individual and collective change. Since 2007, it has sought to ensure that its activities remain in line with the needs of territories and communities, prioritising accessibility and artistic participation across multiple centralities. By bringing together audiences, sectors, artistic languages, territories and partners, PELE creates spaces for horizontal decision-making and alternative models of collective creation.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s PARTIS initiative, aimed at promoting equal access to artistic creation and cultural participation for all, has been running since 2013. The initiative finances participatory art projects that bring together professional and non-professional artists for co-creation, reflection and to share learnings. It recognises and values the role of participatory art in developing personal skills, strengthening a sense of identity and belonging, and building more sustainable and fairer communities.



Excerpts of songs and conversations from the Enxoval (Hope Chest) project participants

Eu fui ao rio lavar (I went to the river to wash)

“I went to the river to wash some clothes, oh, wo
But I forgot the soap at my abode
So I washed the clothes with roses, oh, wo
A flowery scent on my hands they’ve bestowed.
I looked towards the river,
for a glimpse of your satisfaction, there you were
wash, wash, washing away,
frolicking and enjoying playful banter”


Flor laranjeira + rosa não consintas (orange blossom + rose you won’t allow)

“Oh orange blossom, take your leave
For my mum won’t let me venture outside this eve”

“Sweet rose you won’t allow me to place a thorn in your hand
a deflowered rose is bound to be damned”


Loureiro + Minha mãe case-me cedo (Laurel + mum marry me soon)

“Laurel, perfectly dried laurel, with a green centre
You courted a maiden, marry her, oh dear sir”

“Oh, mum marry me soon,
while I’m still a fair maiden,
while I’m still fair maiden,
for corn harvested late,
bears no chaff nor cob,
it bears no chaff nor cob”


Quem me dera ser a hera (I wish I were ivy)

“Oh, I wish I were ivy, so I could climb the wall
up to your bedroom, where into your bed I could crawl
Oh how I wish, wish, wish that I could
hug you forever and kiss you until I die”

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