||On the banks of the São Francisco River, near the town of Barra, the old people still remember the steam boats that used to go down the river, with their roofs full of clay pots and bottles made in the area. Some say the art of modelling clay was started by a man called João Diabrura. “That’s a legend, but in truth everyone has always made pots and bottles, and later we started making other shapes, animals and lady-bottles”, says Eunice Batista Matos (picture on the top), one of the oldest craft artists at Our Lady of Fátima Clay Community.
In the town of Barra this Community brings together artists who make utensils and decorative pieces, and teach the youngsters in the area. “Our work started in 1974 when an Italian priest and a nun arrived in town and organised our work.”
Clays of different colours are used in the technique known as slip, taken from the river bank, the countryside, and wherever the potters know it might be hiding. Some pieces, quite old, are part of the community’s history, such as the ones made by Laura Vieira de Oliveira and Angela Custódio Gonçalves.
Among the younger artists, the work by Marcelo de Castro stands out. He started in 2002.