My wife and I were in Lisbon yesterday and met up with an old Portland friend who had been living Portugal for eight years. After lunch she took us to an art exhibition at the Estrela Basilica, by a young Ukrainian artist, Veronika Blizniuchenko.

Looking up at the dome of the Estrela Basilica in Lisbon, from a gardened cloister below

It is not an easily found exhibition, situated as it is in the former convent behind the Basilica. While visiting the Basilica, Bluzniuchenko noticed the convent from its rooftop gallery. She approached the Basilica’s authorities and asked if she could use it as a studio and exhibition space. To her surprise, they agreed. If you are in Lisbon, I recommend hunting down the exhibition. You enter via a side door to the Basilica’s right and then following a maze of corridors to the convent.

The exhibition is called, β€œThe Beauty is a Choice.” When we visited, no one else was there and the former convent offered a lovely refuge from the heat and bustle of Lisbon. Bluzniuchenko walked around her considerable exhibition with us, answering any and all questions and explaining what inspired her. She is a lovely person.

A cloister in the Estrela Basilica showing arches, part of the garden and some paintings from an exhibition

Her generosity of time was even more of note, as when we showed up she shared with us that her home town in the Ukraine had been the object of a new Russian offensive. That was very much on her mind as she painted and spent time with us.

Through her work Bluzniuchenko is also helping to raise money for the restoration of the convent and may, with the help of our Portland friend and again subject to the authorities agreement, do some work on the gardens there.

This painting Bluzniuchenko is gifting to the Basilica.

A view through an open window, outside looking in, with yellow potted roses on either side of the window, the left one flowering, and a large painting inside.