According to the tale, Mr. Daniel da Silva, which was a Portuguese emigrant in France, when returning to his native town of Oporto was set on creating its own business. He decided to take an all new approach on the French traditional “croque-monsieur”, adding layers of different types of sausages, tender juicy beef and a rich fondant cheese topping with a super-secret spicy sauce…. He found inspiration in his “memoires” of French women, which he thought of as hot and…whatever…And so, a star was born! As every bright star should be named, he called it “Francesinha”, meaning exactly it, French Girl. Of course Mr Silva hadn´t travel much and spent his youngster years in France, what surely accounts for such an infatuation…
On our wall, as in the Francesinha, you´ll be able to discover many layers and unexpected surprises:
1. The French Girl
A visual take on the inspiration behind our soul produce, at first glance it´s just it, a drawing of a French girl…but we invite you to come closer and take on an all new approach yourself.
Head held up high, proud and focused. The eyes shut intend to represent the moment of the awakening of this project, the twilight zone that lies between the dream and real life, as the dream that powers up the hand of the artist looking at a blank canvas yet ready to be filled with paint, and create something unique.
The earring of this French girl is truly a Portuguese kind of jewelry, made famous around the word by some Hollywood stars as Sharon Stone for instance, who fell in love with and wore it proudly after visiting Portugal. It´s made out of really fine hair thin threads of precious metal, mainly gold but also silver and bronze, using a technique called “filigrana”, remounting of ancient Greek and Roman influences. It is, itself, a very delicate, intricate, outstandingly rich piece of art, but only the ones that take the time and attention to look at all the small details get the most of it. The same applies to this drawing…
2. The Heart
This particular part of the art piece is a tribute to Lucia, standing as a memorial to the first stroke of the heart and true inspiration of this enterprise. It´s one of the ways it keeps pulsating, alive and strong, pumping through to all of us it´s energy and happiness, through a complex network of vessels that stands for each and everyone that joined and carried through this project and endured it till the present. Right upon the core of the heart itself is a feminine figure, although discrete and at first glance seemingly of little matter, incorporates, in fact, a powerful presence. If only hidden inside it, lives on, sharing, smiling, keeping pace with the heartbeat. The night doesn’t take on a gloomy meaning here, instead it´s a sky full of stars, filled up with the light of blissful moments and memories, sheltering, protecting…
3. The Shawl
This illustration is an ode to the internationally renowned Portuguese traditional kind of music, which was elevated to the category of oral and immaterial asset of mankind by UNESCO in 2011: Fado. The name originates from the Latin word “Fatum”, meaning fate or destiny. It is usually connoted with sadness, melancholic states of mind or heartbroken grieve represented by the feeling of sorrow for the absence of loved ones, expressed in a word that only exists in the Portuguese language: saudade. But fado can also be joyful, when so it speaks mostly of strong positive human emotions such as love and friendship. So fate may well depend on how we take on life! When sung by women, they typically cover their shoulders with a triangular richly embodied shawl, hence the reference in the drawing. In this piece of art it means to represent the complexity and diversity of the Portuguese gastronomy.
4. Belvedere (viewpoint)
It connects to the Portuguese Maritime Discoveries golden Era. It´s the high place near the riverside where family and friends gathered to wave goodbye to those sailors who left towards the unknown, carriers of the Portuguese culture, hoping to find new places and opportunities to share it with the rest of the world and aiming for great things ahead. All were aware of the risk but also of the amazing outcomes that could come from the journey. It stands for the spirit that moves this project.
5. St John´s Balloon
Colourful stripped paper lanterns in the shape of balloons that are hot air lifted are traditionally thrown into the night sky in St John´s Day Eve, June the 23rd, symbolizing courage and renovation. Friends, family, strangers, all are welcome to gather around and help, sharing happy moments and life lasting memories, summed up in that moment where the balloon leaves the many hands and effort needed and magic happens, rising up high in the warm fragrant air filled with the scent of basil, leek, lemongrass and roasted sardines. The whole town comes out to play in a joyful, crazy and truly popular celebration in honour of St John, who´s not, as you may think, the patron of the city, but is instead the one that owns it´s love. The balloon here stands carrying the produces needed to make our Francesinha, one of the others true loves of Oporto people, with the flame lit up high and mighty, to take it all the way hopefully without fading.
6. The Buildings
One of the many ways of representing the gathering, the bond between the two cities linked by this challenging project is the buildings. “Londonbound” you´ll find a sketch of Oporto Riverside Household (Ribeira); located along and bordering the riverside near D. Luís Bridge, it is part of the historical centre of Oporto, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1996. It still preserves a strong identity forged through over 2000 years of history in a unique urban fabric.
You can pinpoint in between the buildings Clerigos Tower, one of the most famous and cherished monuments of the city, it was a statement of catholic faith of the town people. Built in a rococo style or "Late Baroque”, it rises well above the surrounding buildings and has been used for many years as a navigation reference for sailors approaching the city by sea; and yet as another curious detail, it was used to signal to the traders the arrival of the Royal Mail Steamers, as it approached the river mouth; this was a regular maritime connection transporting money and exchange products concerning Oporto- England export businesses.
Carrying on in the same direction and yet connecting another dot between the two places, you´ll find Canary Warf buildings. These stand as the London reference of the business borough, with a tight bond to the major role of the river in its development. Their height stands for the dimension of the city of London, the opportunities it offers and the huge flow of resources, human and material, it encloses.
And now that you checked it out, did you find Frhappy?
7. D. Luís Bridge
It´s one of the five bridges connecting Oporto, on the right river bank of Douro, to Vila Nova de Gaia, on the left hand side, and the oldest one standing. Built by a disciple of the famous Eiffel, it was chosen because of its uniqueness and beauty. Iron made, it´s framework kind of takes you to the “filigrana” thread. It has 2 trays originally meant for cars with pedestrian sideways, latter on was adapted to new means of transportation and the upper one is now used for the surface metro, in an admirable capability of adapting to modern times necessities. One of the most impressive views it offers is the one of inhabitants of the riverside boroughs, mainly children, defying fear and the tricky streamed river with vertiginous dives into de cold water. It is also the nearest one overlooking Port Wine Cellars on the left river bank, another one of the Oporto ex-libris and one with a strong and traditional bond to England and ancient English families, who helped develop this wonderful wine and showcase it to the world. Hopefully it will do the same with great food…
Conceptually the bridge took on its literal meaning: a pathway to the flow of people and products between Oporto and the world hereby used as a link between Portugal and England or better yet, between Oporto and London…
8. London Eye
The London Eye binds to one end of the bridge and represents the rising. Many of those who come to London seek new perspectives, new angles and points of view, new opportunities; they seek the multitude of cultures and experiences that can only be found in this extraordinary town. The Frhappy project intends to add yet another mouthwatering, heartwarming, happy experience to the huge diversity that can be found here, taking it to another level, be there for the classical Londoner, the couple who´s looking for a romantic dine out, the artist who seeks inspiration or the tourist that’s searching to find in London a piece of a brand new spot of this vast planet.
The world already made acquaintance to some of Oporto´s finest contribution to spread happiness, may that be in the form of outstanding wine (Port Wine), great football and amazingly beautiful women (Sara Sampaio), so now it´s time to showcase the food (Francesinha)…
Hopping you enjoy this experience to the fullest, after all details are just was makes the difference!