Born in Breves (PA), Marcelino dos Santos Borges has been living in Manaus for 20 years, and boats and rivers are his world. “I know Pará’s boats well, but only make the ones found in the Amazon”, he says with pride. And continues: “there’s the shore boat, the fishing one, the leisure one, the one from Escadaria de Remédios that stops in every village”, and so on.
A professional ship handyman, Marcelino also worked as a juta picker and stevedore. Married and father of a young child, working in the docklands in Breves, he used to hear that soon there would only be a future for those with a secondary education. “So, I decided to go to Manaus in search of this so called secondary school, and found it. All my kids graduated.”
While working in a shop at the Manaus Craft Centre, he says that he would wait for his time to go down to the docks (all the workers had numbers and took turns), and in between jobs he would sculpt boats in Buriti palm tree leaf stalks.
His sole complaint is the lack of interest young people have in his unique art, and the lack of help from
the government to change this. “This art will vanish. I am about to retire and I am still considered just a toy maker. But what can I do? In Brazil you only get famous after you die.”