September Spotlight in Social Documentary Network:
One of the most interesting peculiarities of the cork oak is its outer shell – cork – whose main role is
to protect the tree. The first (virgin) cork extracted has no commercial value; it can only be extracted
30 years after the cork oak is planted and then with a 9 year interval.
Extraction usually occurs between June and August. Hot weather is needed for the cork to be easily
extracted, otherwise it cannot be done without injuring the tree. Work starts early, at 5:30am and
ends before noon.
This photographic documentary was made because I see in it a good subject matter and it is typical
Portuguese work, done with the force of people’s arms where the machines have not yet found a
place because of the complexity and randomness of the extraction.
I hope it translates the strength and skill of cork men.
Being a cork man is not for everyone. It takes physical preparation and audacity, often climbing to
heights of over 8 meters.
Over time cork men learn to look at the cork oak and know exactly where to do the firsts cuts – “you must have a trained eye and understand the cork oak”.
In the present, cork is in the peak areas of innovative design and eco-design. It is an ecological, recyclable and biodegradable material looked for many different applications. With this photographic documentary I intend to participate in the construction of the Portuguese immaterial heritage.
We must look into our future with the awareness of our present and past. Everything that is modern has a path, a story: a soul.