“The Guardian”: author and work


Photography: RR


Anyone who knows Ericeira has certainly noticed the sculpture above the most mediatic and cosmopolitan of the seven unique world-class waves that make up the Ericeira World Surfing Reserve – Ribeira d’Ilhas. We speak, of course, of the “Guardião”.

Last year, the artist who created this sculpture, a project on which José Queiroz worked for over 30 years, gave an interview to Ericeira Living website.

this sculpture goes further in time, having deeper roots and moving details

Although the “Guardian” celebrates Ericeira’s consecration as a World Surfing Reserve – which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year -, the truth is that this Work goes further in time, presenting deep roots and moving details.

The Guardian’s features were inspired by a real person. This person was a model for a healthy, sustainable and intimate relationship with the sea. It represents a man who truly loved Nature and whose qualities are worthy of this title.

With his creation, which makes a collective appeal for environmental preservation to everyone, in and out of the water, José hopes to inspire a better version of each one of us.

Together with his wife Catarina, José Queiroz explained in detail in the following interview the process of his most important creation, implemented in 2017 and which has become a local icon. The first four questions belong to children from Ericeira.

What is the sculpture made of?

The sculpture is made of bronze, which is a great material. It is not harmful to Nature and lasts a long time, hundreds of years.


Is the Guardian looking at something in particular? What does the direction of your his mean?

Yes, the Guardian is looking out to sea. Nowhere, just to the sea. The Guardian is the link between the ocean and humanity. Also, he’s a bit like the fish-man type of creature. This makes me think of the Guardian as a bridge that connects us to the sea.

although I have only lived in Ericeira for 20 years, my relationship with the village is much older than that.

Are you a surfer? Have you won many competitions?

Yes and no. Despite surfing, I never competed as a surfer. But I competed as a swimmer once.


What is your relationship with Ericeira?

My grandparents used to spend vacation here, as well as my parents. Although I have only lived in Ericeira for 20 years, my relationship with the village goes back much further than that.

keeping oneself and the environment healthy was a priority for my father, as he understood that one thing could not exist without the other

Where did you find the inspiration for the Guardian?

My father was my inspiration. My father’s love for the sea inspired me to create the Guardian. I remember how my father was excited every time we approached Ericeira and the smell of the sea. Although I was young and a strong swimmer at the time, I remember not being able to keep up with my father’s speed in the water. In addition to his love for the sea, my father had the scientific knowledge and disciplined training that made him an excellent swimmer. He glided through the water like a sea creature. It was a sight to see that.

Another of my father’s qualities that I wanted to pass on through this creation was how much he valued staying healthy. This is something he carried for his entire life. When he was just 5 years old, he used the money he received for Christmas to buy something special, the ultimate health formula at that time – cod liver oil.

Keeping oneself and the environment healthy was a priority for my dad, as he understood that one thing couldn’t exist without the other. This was his passion and his life. So much so that, after graduating as an engineer (mainly to please my grandparents), he started training in sports and teaching at the university.

How did this sculpture end up at Ribeira d’Ilhas viewpoint?

After finishing the sculpture, I tried to take the project forward, asking the City Council to give the Guardian a house by the sea. However, the Council, at the time, was not interested. So I waited for new elections and tried again. And this time I was successful.

We proceeded with the project and the 90 cm high prototype became the full-size Guardian that you can see today. When the sculpture finally took its place, outside my studio and right by the sea, it looked majestic! That was when the Guardian “took off” and the response from the audience was incredible, I must say, moving.

After the huge success with the public after the inauguration of this work, it was only a matter of time before the Guardian also became a brand, first with a clothing line that focuses on sustainability, where the cotton is organic and the impression is made locally, followed, in 2019, by the children’s book “O Guardião – a Mensagem”, whose idea came from Catarina – which works daily with children. Marina Crisóstomo, also a teacher, helped with the elaboration of the story, while José was in charge of the illustration, combining wood and papier mache to create the characters (José and Catarina’s three children, who never knew their grandfather and who have an opportunity here to know him through the character of O Guardião) and the different scenarios.

The book’s message is an urgent call to action, encouraging children to become guardians of the planet, inspiring appreciation and a positive attitude towards Nature and the sea.

The Guardian’s products can be found at Casa Bernardino, in Ericeira, or online.

You can read the entire original interview here.

Esta publicação também está disponível em | This article is also available in: Portuguese (Portugal)