Convento São Francisco de Mértola
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply?
Visual artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians, and those working in related cultural fields.
Do I need to have a specific project in mind?
A specific project is not required but we would like to see an outline/general plan of your ideas and intentions.
While preference will be given to those who have proven experience in their artistic fields, we also are willing to consider proposals from enthusiastic, creative types who will undertake original works during their stay.
We accept applications in English, Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, German and French.
Do you require letters of recommendation?
How long will does the application take?
The application process will take a maximum of 2 weeks.
Do you offer any sort of financial aid?
The residencies are self funded. The Convento is a small independent, non-profit organisation. Many of our residents have received grants from their local arts councils or funding from their native country.
How long do people normally stay for?
It depends on the project but the average time is two months. There is a minimum stay of two weeks and a maximum stay of three months. Longer periods can be agreed on. For residencies shorter than two weeks other rates apply.
What kind of accommodation do I get?
Basically all our studios are two-person accommodations with private bathroom and kitchen, some bigger some smaller. We normally book Studio 1 or the Little Cottage for a single person and Studio 2 and Studio 3 for couples. If a single accommodation is already booked a twin accommodation can be agreed on to accommodate you.
How much of the grounds can be used?
The Convento has 40 hectares of garden, rivers and woodland. This can be used for work, inspiration and meditation. Some areas are closed during breeding season in the preserve. We encourage artists to not only use their studio space but also to use the rest of the Convento.
Can I have visitors to stay?
Visitors can share your accommodation or book a separate accommodation. Different rates apply for visitors and they must respect other resident’s need for a calm and tranquil environment in which to work.
What is the best time of year to come?
The Alentejo has beautiful weather almost all year round but it's also a typical land-climate.We advice you to bring layers of clothes because temperatures can change dramatically from day to night. In January and February temperatures can fall below zero at night. July and August are hot so you have to be prepared. Although the thick walls of our ancient building offer good protection against cold and heat we don't have central heating or air conditioning. Heating in winter is provided by wood stoves and in summer heat is kept out of you accommodation by protecting it from the sun by shutting the windows during the day and cooling it at night by opening them.
Is there heating in winter?
All studios have a wood burner; wood for the burner can be bought in sacks at a small extra cost. The winter period in Portugal isn’t long (about three months) and is a beautiful time to stay.
Does the cost include bills for gas and electricity?
Yes, but in winter, if you want additional heating from a gas heater, gas bottles are paid for by the resident.
Where can I hire a car?
Cars can be hired from Faro and Lisbon on arrival or from the town of Beja, a short bus ride away.
Is the Convento easily accessible?
The beauty of the Convento is that it's situated in a quiet, unspoilt area of Portugal. There is daily bus which link the town to Lisbon (240km), Beja (50km) and the south coast (the Algarve; 70km).
Are there towels and linen provided?
Are mosquito nets provided?
Yes, though we don’t have many mosquitoes in the area.
Is there a kitchen?
The studios have their own kitchens and/or a shared kitchen is available.
Are pots and pans provided?
Yes, all the kitchens have basic utensils.
Where can I buy food?
In the town of Mértola (a 12 min walk) there are plenty of grocery shops, a daily market and several small supermarkets. There are multiple cash machines.
Can I have dinner?
Normally residents self cater as they have their own kitchen. It is possible you will share a meal with another artist or even with the family that runs the facility, especially when the energy is just right, but we leave these moments to chance.
How many artists are usually resident at one time?
It depends on the time of year and other factors. If a resident stays for a few months then they may experience quiet peaceful times interspersed with busier times. The
Convento is a sociable place, but also offers a quiet refuge in which to work.
Is there internet access?
Yes, there is a communal WI-FI internet access point. We can arrange for studio internet access at a small extra cost.
Where can I buy art materials?
Some basic standard materials can be bought in local shops and in Beja there is a good art shop supplying most materials. We encourage artists to use local materials. Please let us know what you need and if we can't arrange it here, if it can't find it here we advise artists to bring the materials with them.
Can I exhibit at the Convento?
Yes, we hold exhibitions in the chapel gallery on request.
What else is there to do?
There is plenty to do in the area and, with good bus links to the rest of the Alentejo region, you can access many sites of interest. Mertola itself boasts several small and fascinating museums, plus there's canoeing, hiking, boat trips and a laid back nightlife at the local bars. There are many restaurants we can recommend during your stay.
See the section on'Things to Do and See' (having said that, in our experience, despite their good intentions to travel beyond Mertola, many people do not end up venturing beyond the Convento. Indeed, there is enough to experience here - physically, emotionally, spiritually, creatively and intellectually - without needing to venture further!)