Lopes returned to Mozambique in 1953 and taught in a technical school. During this period of her life, cultural nationalism, embodied by the poets José Craveirinha and Noémia de Sousa, became a significant influence ideologically and artistically. Much of her work featured African fairy-tales and stories along with political events occurring at the time.
Lopes travelled back to Portugal with a scholarship to study ceramics; however, her nationalist attitude was met with persecution by the PIDE (Portuguese International and State Defence police). Lopes decided to move to Rome, Italy in 1963 where she lived the rest of her life. The subjects of African fairy-tales took on a new meaning during this period; they expressed a force of opposition and desire for independence. The work she produced from 1970 through to the 1980s exudes nostalgia for her homeland of Mozambique.
Bertina Lopes achieved significant recognition and received numerous awards and prizes. She won an award from the International Centre for Mediterranean Art and Culture in 1975 and the Grand Prix d’Honneur from the European Union of Art Critics in 1988, to name a few.
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