||Celestino was born José Celestino da Silva (1955), in Juazeiro do Norte. Growing up among pilgrimages, churches and prayers, he could easily have got involved with religion, but being the son and grandson of craft artists, at a very early age he started sculpting whistles to attract birds. In time, the whistles started taking on different shapes and became more sophisticated. Some represent social problems, such as strikes and peasants, and others are erotic – quite a daring feat in the land of Father Cícero.
“When I was young, the elders wouldn’t show us exactly how to make a whistle. They only showed us the pieces after they were ready. So even if you had a good teacher, you wouldn’t learn unless you were really interested. We had to hang around, watching and trying to learn and you ended up seeing other things as well. I also make dolls and marionettes. All of them in the same style.”