5 Cultural Suggestions — Vera Appleton

What can we do at home? Or what cultural suggestions can help us navigate in uncertain times? From a book to a podcast, album or film, here are the recommendations of artists, curators, gallery owners, cultural activists, friends.

We are going to share the recipe of what makes us better, to remain united and positive.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, UMBIGO weekly invites a person to share their 5 cultural suggestions.


Vera Appleton

Thinking about cultural recommendations (in these semi-quarantine times) is a huge challenge proposed by Umbigo, since I have eclectic tastes that are difficult to fit into a text. I decided to do it with all honesty and share what touched me or accompanied me these days, inseparable from people and personalities who make me go further, who inspire and stimulate me. Having access to books, films, music, exhibitions, conversations, ideas in their great diversity is a privilege that only culture offers us. To value this is a basic principle and a civic obligation.

(Eight recommendations – they would be infinite – instead of five.)

Audiovisual – Film/Series


In a conversation I saw recently about “The role of cinema in the communication of socio-environmental issues”, part of a programme of the ecofolante exhibition in Brazil, where Jorge Bodanzky participated, I encountered for the first time the Brazilian platform Above all, it’s a recommendation for cultural agents, directors, programmers, or professionals in the field of education.

The mission of the videocamp is clear in the presentation text: “Videocamp is an online platform that brings together films with potential impact, which can be seen by anyone, anywhere in the world and for free. Our mission is to create ways to democratize access to culture and information, which are universal rights”.

The Last Dance
Jason Hehir

I’m addicted to TV series. I could recommend many that would occupy time for several months of quarantine. But I drop two here, I just can’t resist: the best ever for me, Breaking Bad by Vince Gilligan, and the unmissable After Life by the legend Ricky Gervais.

But the timeliest suggestion, because it has left a mark me, is Jason Hehir’s The Last Dance, a documentary about Michael Jordan. Besides the quality in terms of image, photography and narrative, it was inspiring to get to know MJ better – his perseverance, courage and strength. It was amazing to find beauty and dynamics in basketball, a sport that I had found uninteresting until now. On the other hand, I was fascinated to find that simplicity of thought in a mythical, almost superhuman figure. In episode X, Barack Obama simply summarizes the importance of MJ as a sports figure, who later became a cultural force, contributing strongly to create a new way of looking at African-American athletes. And also at sports as a form of entertainment.

Books – Biography and poetry

Shoe Dog
Phil Knight

For those of you who decide to watch The Last Dance, I recommend Phil Knight’s biography entitled Shoe Dog. These are memoirs of Nike’s founder, which, coincidentally, I just read during the quarantine. For those interested in management and intuition (and for those who like the Air Jordan footwear), it’s a book not to be missed.

A papoila e o monge
Tolentino Mendonça

At the bedside table, poetry must always be present, capable of inspiring us before we close our eyes, heading to a new day. Right now, my number one suggestion is A papoila e o monge, by José Tolentino Mendonça – the last book I bought before the stores closed in March. Each poem is an inspiration. I must mention these verses that appear to be in line with the time we live in:

“My wish in spring:
that even wildflowers
bloom at my door”

The Magic-Maker E.E. Cummings
Charles Norman

Another pivotal book, connected with the two previous suggestions (biography and poetry), one is always with me – The Magic-Maker E.E. Cummings, a biography about the American poet-painter, written by Charles Norman. It’s an interesting personality from the beginning of the 20th century. The book draws the reader from beginning to end. It includes poems and images of the poet’s works. And I also suggest reading his poem [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in)] – my favourite.


For me, music is the most encompassing art form, as it allows me to “travel” effortlessly. I let myself be carried away and give myself up without thinking.


I discovered Carminho’s record Maria in the wonderful photographs of the artist José Pedro Cortes. It was remarkably interesting the way Carminho decided to promote the album, assuming her connection and interest in contemporary visual arts. She proved that both fields are not stale. Their unification can happen naturally and intelligently. After the initial curiosity, and because I really liked fado, and Carminho for that matter, I felt like listening to every song in Maria with attention and time. During the quarantine, I did it and it gave me (and it continues to do so) great pleasure. It’s a very special record.

Red Bean Rice

My second musical suggestion is the album Water by Red Bean Rice, a band of young Portuguese musicians who were experiencing a deeply positive period, with shows scheduled in Portugal and abroad. But the pandemic forced the tour to be cancelled. I chose Red Bean Rice while assuming my affective relationship with them. Without ignoring that their performance, part of the Gliding Barnacles festival, was Appleton’s last normal moment before COVID. And, therefore, unforgettable. They also represent the precarious and complicated situation that so many musicians, in Portugal and around the world, are living right now.

Exhibitions – On and offline

Como silenciar uma poeta
Susana Mendes Silva

Finally, I suggest visiting an exhibition. And I do justice to the artist Susana Mendes Silva, who has always been remarkably accurate when working with the online medium, anticipating conceptual issues that are now spoken about. Ironically, this is my only suggestion that forces us to leave home: Como silenciar uma poeta, an exhibition of this artist at the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, which opened on June 10 and closes on August 30. This exhibition is part of the programme As coisas fundadas no silêncio, with artistic direction by Marta Rema. Susana Mendes Silva will also present three performances, still without a definite date. I also suggest visiting the artist’s website to look carefully at the archive and descriptive memory of her works: Telescola from 1997, artphone from 2002, art_room from 2005, A bed time story from 2007, a performance she worked with again in 2020 during the quarantine, or even Audio Description, presented at Culturgest in 2013.


Vera Appleton has a degree in communication and marketing from ESCS – IPL. She has a postgraduate degree in marketing management from ISEG. She has a master’s degree in contemporary art from the FCH of Universidade Católica, where she has been a guest lecturer since 2015. She has worked in the communication field in several companies – Seat (1996-1998), Novodesign (1999-2002), Euro RSCG (2002-2003), Croquidesign (2003-2007) In 2007, she started the Appleton Square project as a founding partner. In 2018, it changed its legal status to a non-profit association, assuming the executive management of Appleton Cultural Association. She is responsible for the global management, which includes: programming/calendaring, accounting, communication, human resources, relationships with artists, galleries, investors and clients. In 2020, she launched the Appleton podcast. She provides consulting and advisory services in artistic programming.

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