“It began as a dream, a way to start a new life in Lisbon, but when we found our current location we quickly realized it was possible to make it happen.”
Our interview with the artist-led, non-profit arts organisation PADA. Founded in 2018 by Tim Ralston and Diana Cerezino.
Interview by writer Brooke Hailey Hoffert
Could you tell us a bit about yourselves and your background? Where did you study?
Diana: I grew up in Lisbon and moved to London thirteen years ago to go to art school at UAL. Having graduated, I stayed and continued my practice alongside working in a variety of galleries and projects in London We met three years ago when Tim had an exhibition at a gallery I was working at.
Tim: I grew up in London and after a degree in Fine Art, worked in galleries and institutions and then moved on to working in artists’ ateliers. About five years ago, I went freelance so that I could be a bit more flexible around creating projects of my own and pursuing my own practice. I went to Turps Banana and it was the studio environment I found there that inspired a lot of what PADA is. Before moving to Lisbon, I was director of an arts festival in South London and also ran a project space called Recreational Grounds, which has just had its 5th edition, curated by Vanessa Murrell and Martin Mayorga from DATEAGLE ART.
How did PADA start, what led you to create this artist-led organization?
Diana: We both had ambitions to start a project like this before we met, it was an idea that we both had in common. We had also talked about leaving London. Every time we visited my family in Portugal we spent time exploring abandoned buildings in the old industrial areas around Lisbon. Old factories are everywhere and we loved imagining the projects we could create in them.
Tim: It began as a dream, a way to start a new life in Lisbon, but when we found our current location we quickly realized it was possible to make it happen. Lisbon and in particular the south bay, is the ideal place to start a project like this. Aside from the great quality of life, the space is affordable, people are welcoming and the art scene is exciting to be around. It was the right time in both our lives and also a good time to start a project here.
What is the most important part of an artist-led organization?
The artists - we are made by and informed by the artists who come and work at PADA.
What advice would you give to artists who want to apply to PADA?
We like to receive applications from artists who have really thought about what they want to achieve during their stay. How they will respond to the location and how they will make use of the facilities. We definitely reward ambition!
What do you look for in an artist?
We look for artists who are as passionate and hard working as we are.
Tell us a bit about your studios and the building in Lisbon?
The warehouse is an old jute sack factory. It is a huge space that provides six large studios for international artists as well as six long-term studios for artists living in Lisbon. We also have a dedicated gallery space that is linked to the residency program and workshops for fabrication. Off site, we have two cottages in the old workers quarter of the industrial park where there are six private double bedrooms for resident artists. We are surrounded by other warehouses and factories that are slowly being re-populated by small fabrication companies and craftsmen.
How do you differentiate yourself from other galleries or art organizations?
Based within the huge Baia do Tejo Industrial park, we are able to give artists time and space as well as the support and facilities to create ambitious work. We both really enjoy the process of turning ideas into artwork and the journey that happens along the way. We want to make PADA a place that can help this happen, to provide unique support to artists in the production of work.
Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
We are looking forward to a full and busy summer at the residency. We will be launching the next open call for autumn residencies soon and are happy to be working with Turps Banana again in September in a mentored, painting specific residency whilst October and November will be open to all media.
In the gallery we are hosting an exhibition of five national archives in June and then in July we are presenting the first solo show in the gallery by Rhys Himsworth. Rhys is in residency with us for two months working towards this show and we have been talking with the artist since PADA began. Rhys will be producing a series of hybrid painted works, utilizing the materiality of the landscape they depict.
The physical materials for the work are sourced through a complex physical and virtual set of routes and systems - the waste of discarded consumer electronics from recycling centers in China used to produce hybridized substrates and specialized pigments, that in turn are used to produce paintings depicting the landscape and plant matter from which the materials have been originally mined. It seems fitting to host this exhibition at PADA, based in a former industrial site that saw the transition from an industrial to post-industrial economy. Again fitting is to have the exhibition set in the city of Lisbon, which now operates as one of Europe’s largest ports acting as a significant node within this new economic system.
Publish date: 13/06/2019
All images courtsey of PADA