INTERVIEW WITH TIM RALSTON &
DIANA CEREZINO, FOUNDERS OF PADA.
Bislacchi, February 2019
PADA is an artist run gallery, studio and residency based in Barreiro, an industrial area in the south bay of Lisbon. PADA opened its doors in August 2018, offering a residency programme with 6 short-term studios for international artists and curators, and 8 long-term studios for artists based in Lisbon. Artists are invited to live and work in Barreiro through an open call running all year. In the following interview, I speak with PADA’s founders Tim Ralston and Diana Cerezino about the programme they set up in Barreiro and their upcoming projects.
Bislacchi: Tim and Diana, could you talk about how you met and when you first thought about PADA?
Tim Ralston: We met in London, at an exhibition of my work. We ended up talking until 5 in the morning about art and the art world in an all-night cafe in Liverpool Street. We soon began talking about an idea that would later become PADA.
Diana Cerezino: Visiting my family in Lisbon not long after, we explored Lisbon, particularly south bay area. I think on that trip, PADA began.
PADA Founders Diana Cerezino and Tim Ralston
Photography by Fiona Grady © DATEAGLE ART 2018
B: What are the main features of Barreiro? What does this particular location offer to artists?
TR: Barreiro is only a short ferry ride from the centre of Lisbon, but in that time the landscape changes a lot. You leave the bustling metropolitan city and arrive in a quiet town that is more representative of Portugal as a whole. Barreiro has a long history of industry, but since the end of the regime in the 70s, it has slowly fallen into decline and a lot of the old factories and warehouses are vacant and in disrepair. Situating ourselves here, we felt we achieved a great balance for artists – close enough to Lisbon to pop over for openings and events, but somewhere that we can develop big inspiring studios in a calm and focused environment.
DC: There is also a great community in Barreiro and a lot of other cultural associations who are working hard to define Barreiro as a cultural centre.
B: I’m curious to know the meaning of the word “PADA”. Where does it come from?
TR: I’m afraid we can’t reveal its meaning - we don’t really know ourselves. We came up with it on our first trip to Lisbon. We found it exploring some derelict buildings, before we even knew what it would mean or what it would become. Straight away, we started to refer to the project as PADA, and it stuck. It works well as it is neutral, and translates well across different nationalities.
PADA Industrial Park, abandoned warehouse.
PADA Industrial Park, mineral pigments in the pyrite ashes.
B: How did you make the right connections to help to support your project?
TR: From our time in London, we were lucky to have enough good friends in the arts that could guide us, and help us through planning the project. I took a lot of inspiration from my time at Turps Banana, and Marcus, Helen, and Phil were very supportive.
DC: We didn’t know anyone in Barreiro a year ago, but everyone has welcomed us, and we have been shown real support and guidance from the local council, Baia do Tejo, who manage the industrial park, as well as other cultural associations.
B: Lately, many people have acknowledged Lisbon as the new European art capital. For instance, over the last few years, magazines such as ArtReview, Artnet and Artribune have reported that many artists have chosen to move their studios to Lisbon, outlining the best features of the city. I would like to know your opinion on the Lisbon art scene and why artists, eventually, should choose to live and work in this city.
DC: Lisbon offers space and opportunities to start new things. The art scene here is open, friendly, and unpretentious. Some cities are so busy and expensive that they are forcing artists out. Lisbon feels the opposite; artists are welcome and studio rent and living costs are affordable. It genuinely feels like projects like ours are possible. It’s not just the big money venture, but lots of artist-led projects are thriving and shaping the art scene.
PADA Gallery, Ben McDonnell in Fotografie e Materialidade
B: Alongside the studios, you also have a gallery space that artists can use to exhibit their work. Do you use the gallery space for any other projects?
TR: The gallery is a great tool for artists working in the studio to use during production. To be able to take an artwork out of the studio for a moment and look at it in a new setting can generate lots of new thoughts.
DC: It is also important for documentation purposes. As well as a scheduled gallery, we use it as a project space, and we open it up to as many artists as we can. The residency has priority, but after that we are open to all proposals.
B: Could you explain how the application process works, and how you help artists and curators in supporting the costs of their residency?
DC: We run several open calls throughout the year. In some of these, we work with partners or curators to add a new angle on the residency. Applications are reviewed monthly, and we offer places to artists based on the quality of the application, but also try to choose groups that will work well together. When we work with a partner they will sit in on this process, and we will also consider the relevance to their projects.
TR: When we offer places, we work closely with residents who need to secure funding. We have been successful so far in helping residents to find funding to cover travel and accommodation costs, as well as material costs for projects.
B: Let’s talk about numbers. Since you opened up, would you be able to tell me how many artists and curators have been involved in the programme? How many projects have you run? And how many shows have been set up?
TR: We have worked with 54 artists across the residency, studios and gallery since we opened 5 months ago. We are just editing our first biannual publication featuring all of these artists. We hope this will be the first chapter of an archive of artists at PADA. We will launch it in a show at AMAC, the municipal gallery of Barreiro on March 2nd.
B: What would you say is the key of your success?
DC: Hard work.
B: I know you have a busy schedule for the next few months, can you say something about what you are working on?
TR: At the beginning of March, we have a show at the municipal gallery in Barreiro which will feature work that has been made at PADA that responds to the industrial environment. It is an amazing venue, and we are excited to bring a little bit of the industrial park in to the gallery space. We are also working on two exhibitions in London with ASC Gallery and Recreational Grounds that will both open on the 15th March. It is great to be able to offer opportunities in London to Portuguese artists we have worked with, and also to international artists who have participated on the residency.
DC: In the residency programme, we are really excited to be working with Turps Banana next month. Phil King, editor of Turps Banana magazine and Scott McCracken manager of Turps Gallery will be working with the residents for a month in an intensive painting residency. In April, Kate Mothes of YNGSPC will be curator in residence. We have worked with Kate to select an exciting group of artists who will be working towards a group show at the end of the month.
B: Sounds very exciting. Thank you very much Tim and Diana! We’re really looking forward to seeing where PADA will go next.