The origins of Porches Pottery date to the early 1960s, when Irish artist Patrick Swift first came to the Algarve and encountered a region with a system of commerce and production based around craft activities that had changed little since the Middle Ages. As plastic and metal wares entered the market, the potters found it increasingly difficult to compete and were reduced to making simple flower pots. In his book, Algarve: a portrait and a guide (1965), Swift had noted this decline, saying of the dishes he would insist on using: "All the basic dishes were of the local Lagoa pottery — easily breakable and poorly glazed. But aesthetically pleasing and so cheap that breakages were no tragedy. Replacements after all helped to encourage an industry threatened with extinction. Even now some of the nicer old kitchen objects can no longer be obtained at the pottery. ‘People don’t buy them anymore,’ say the potters, ‘so we’ve stopped making them.’"
Saddened by this decline, Swift was determined to revive the craft and realize his idealistic dream; to prove that the traditional craft-based form of socio-economic production, that had existed throughout Europe until the Industrial revolution, could be successful in the modern world. The artist eventually wanted an arts & crafts centre where traditional craftspeople could ply their trade and sell their goods. He was soon joined by Portuguese artist Lima de Freitas who shared his views and helped him found the pottery. Swift in his book on Lisbon: "My reason for meeting Lima on this occasion was not to talk about art. It was something much stranger stemming from our basically sympathetic view points, we had embarked on a scheme so foolhardy that, looking back on it, I do not know how we had the temerity to start. This was nothing less than to try and resuscitate the local pottery industry in our part of Algarve."
Mestre Gregório Rodrigues
Dona Julia glazing