The Research Unit VICARTE – Vidro e Cerâmica para as Artes (Glass and Ceramic for the Arts) is devoted to the promotion of transdisciplinary research applied to glass and ceramics, focusing on the intersections between art and science, and stimulating the sharing of knowledge, experiences and methodologies between these two areas. The research at VICARTE connects the present and the past, by developing new materials for glass and ceramics contemporary art, by studying the traditional and historical production practices and the exploration of different aesthetical concepts in art. We are committed to uphold and surpass VICARTE's reputation as a center of excellence that encourages cross-disciplinary research, creativity and innovation in glass and ceramic science applied to art, design and cultural heritage. VICARTE is currently a reference name on glass and ceramics archaeometry in our country, responsible for pioneering studies.
The Research Unit VICARTE – Vidro e Cerâmica para as Artes (Glass and Ceramic for the Arts) is a partnership between the Faculty of Sciences and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon and the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Lisbon. VICARTE's members come from both FCT/UNL and FBA/UL, and also from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Oporto and School of Arts and Design, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria.
VICARTE started its activities in 2002 aiming to be a reference research and development centre for the study of glass and ceramics in art, having in mind its interaction with science. To achieve this VICARTE joins specialists in glass and ceramic from art, design, science, technology, history, archaeology, and conservation fields. This project, proposing a pioneer encounter of know-how in such different areas as science and arts, has now proven to be of interest to artists and scientists throughout the world.
Our primary goal is to produce innovative research exploring both the similarities and the differences between the Arts and the Sciences in order that our understanding of both is enhanced. In this century, where transdisciplinary projects are so common, VICARTE seeks the possibility of effective dialogues between fields related to art and science, both at a practical and a theoretical level. In current times there is an urgency to reunite these fields separated for such a long time, demanding new research that crosses knowledge from a critical and creative perspective, in order to reach new and results.
We believe that industry, commerce and society could significantly benefit if our understanding of the relationship between these two pursuits can be enhanced. If it is our goal to innovate, it is unavoidable that we both identify and choose different approaches than those prescribed or habitual in scientific research or art making.
Glass and ceramic are considered materials of the future, due to their environmental friendliness, and the many physical-chemical properties, which can be explored not only industrially but also with important artistic and social impact. Furthermore, the cultural importance of ceramic and glass is paramount, and therefore this Research Unit also invests in the study of cultural heritage artefacts.
Since 2013 research at VICARTE is divided into two main areas: Contemporary Creativity and Materials, and Cultural Heritage, corresponding to two research groups. The group Contemporary Creativity and Materials aims extending the ways in which artists and scientists think about and work with glass and ceramic. The confluence of art and science here created is unique and means much more than simply offering the wonders of technology and the products of science to artists in order to enable them to produce new and interesting forms. It means literally promoting entirely new creative paths and original thought for artistic production and scientific research. The combined effects of the activities of this research group will raise the awareness of the importance of glass and ceramics in art, industry, design and architecture.
The research group Cultural Heritage aims to be a reference research group on the study and preservation of ceramics and glass, in the framework of archaeometry, conservation science and technical art history. The glass and ceramic heritage has been seldom studied in our country and the work developed at VICARTE by this research group, integrating know-how from different fields (materials science, chemistry, conservation science, biology, archaeology, art history) results on relevant data concerning the technical art history of those materials. The involvement of the conservation field signifies that the materials are studied not only for materials sake but also envisioning their conservation problems and permanence in the public art context. It is of strategic interest to create and make available expertise and know-how that may support decision-making processes regarding the study, and preservation of collections in Portugal, in order to reveal their historical and artistic value and improve conservation strategies. VICARTE is a member of the PhD Course in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage (CORES) sponsored by FCT and of the Portuguese Research Infrastructure for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage (RICH).
VICARTE founded in 2009 the Master in Glass Art and Science, in one of the newest and most innovative concepts in glass education. VICARTE is responsible for the supervision of Master and PhD thesis in Conservation involving glass and ceramic at FCT/UNL, and in Art at FBA/UL and FBA/UP. VICARTE is also a member of the PhD Course in Fine-Arts (FBA/UL) in the specialty of Ceramics and (Product) Design.
To achieve the stated objectives, fruitful collaborations with experts in many fields were consolidated and new ones were established in order to access facilities and cutting-edge knowledge, both at the national and international level.
In summary, the confluence of art and science created at VICARTE is unique and means literally joining scientific thinking and creativity, promoting entirely new creative paths and thinking.
VICARTE is thankful for the support of the following entities: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, CRISFORM Marinha Grande, Câmara Municipal da Marinha Grande , Santos Barosa, Jasmim, In-Fusão, Barracha Ltda., Saint Gobain Glass Portugal, CRISAL, FERRO Indústrias Químicas, Portugal, Lta., KERAjet Portugal, Atlantis, Saint Gobain, Portugal, Libbey, Repsol, Culturgest, Fundação Millennium BCP.