Sunday, July 8, 2012

Giving life to your ancestors

Link para a página em Português.

As soon as I had in my hands the Marriage Certificate from my great grandparents on my mother’s side, Theresa Lopes and Francisco Machado Drummond, many doors were open in my research as well as finding the place where they lived in the first eight years of their marriage – 23 Travessa do Sereno, Morro da Conceição, downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  My curiosity became even bigger after that.

As an artist and having a degree in Museology and Art History I do have an eye for investigating things associated with my creativity. Since I found the address I started creating a picture in my mind of what would have been the life there and the surroundings of the house – my great grandparents, their house, Rio de Janeiro in the XIX century, besides other small details that came up with my research.

In the beginning I started searching the internet for images of Travessa do Sereno. I had an urge to see the place they lived, where they started their life, where they walked in their everyday life and also where my grandmother, Leonor Lopes Drummond, was born on June 4th, 1900. I found out that Morro da Conceição, Travessa do Sereno neighborhood, was a convergent point for the Portuguese immigration in Rio de Janeiro. So, little by little, I was creating an imaginary picture. 

The universe started working in my behalf and I found the website from João Barcelos and his paintings, one of them was picturing Travessa do Sereno. I really love João’s painting, he not only pictures the actual landscape but investigates the architectural history of Rio de Janeiro creating unique works of art. I saw clearly that João Barcelos was the right person to work with me in my new project. Immediately I sent an email to him and explained that I would love to have my great grandparent’s house painted. He promptly went to visit the address, took photos and sent to me.

Strategically situated close to Rio de Janeiro’s Port, the Morro da Conceição is at the moment being remodeled as it became a tourist point because of its uniqueness in Historic Downtown Rio de Janeiro. 

After a few days I received a sketch from João Barcelos. His ability as an artist was quickly revealed as he was able to remove all that was polluting the landscape, creating a poetic composition for me. Having my approval, he proceeded with his art work.

Now in my living room, besides family photos, I’m happier than ever with my painting. I have a feeling of work done, partially.for sure, as I’m always inspired by my family. It’s through her and its legacy that I guide my life and of those who share theirs with me.

- João Barcelos
Fotos e trabalhos de arte acima.

- Nina Rabha – Arquiteta
Morro da Conceição, patrimônio histórico


  1. I came across your blog tonight and am happy to see the someone else is blogging about Portuguese roots. I run the Portuguese Hawaiian website,, and I run the Research Journal blog.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  2. Hello Melody,

    I'm happy that you too have a Portuguese website which I just visited and like it a lot. You have accomplished a lot of work already. Congrats! I do my best to update my blog that I can only manage in the weekends and will keep work on it.



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