Underneath our feet is an invisible world: the sewer. In order to make this world more visible, on Friday, World Sanitation Day, Águas do Tejo Atlântico surprised anyone who walks around Lisbon with 36 sewer covers, representing 12 emblematic places in the capital, created by the artist Gilberto Gaspar. This initiative is called “There is Art in Sewage”, as it has to do with art, but also with Treated Waste Water (ART), and was carried out in conjunction with the Lisbon City Council and Saint-Gobain, which manufactured the new covers that will remain on the streets of the capital until the end of their useful life.
“We want to make people look where they normally don’t, the drain plugs. This is the motto of this initiative that redecorated 36 drain plugs, giving them a new look and transforming them into true works of art, raising awareness in Lisbon and tourists for the importance of this, which is the gateway to the city’s sanitation system”, explains to DN Alexandra Serra, president of Águas do Tejo Atlântico, company that manages the multi-municipal wastewater sanitation system in Greater Lisbon and West .
The 36 caps can be found on the riverfront of Lisbon and represent the Discoveries Monument, 25 de Abril Bridge, Lisbon Cathedral, Marquês de Pombal, Parque das Nações, Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower, Campo Pequeno, Rossio, Terreiro do Palace, Castle and Restauradores. “My inspiration was undoubtedly Lisbon, my hometown, a city next to a fantastic river. But it was also the concept proposed by Águas do Tejo Atlântico, which intended to link sanitation to urban art, as a way of giving more visibility to the sewage treatment service”, says, in turn, the artist Gilberto Gaspar. “I hope it is a success. Urban art makes a positive contribution to the image of a city, it can promote culture and also be a vehicle for raising social and environmental awareness”, he adds.
According to Alexandra Serra, the “Há Art no Esgoto” project may have several developments, not exclusively in sewer covers, nor exclusively in Lisbon, since Águas do Tejo Atlântico serves 23 municipalities and about 2.4 million inhabitants . “On these covers with art installed in Lisbon, we will develop photographic competitions, hiking and cycling, among many other activities. At the same time, and in other municipalities also served by Tejo Atlântico, we are already developing urban art such as graffiti in pumping stations and registration of phrases by Portuguese writers in various infrastructures in the West region”.