||Zulmira Celestino da Silva seems to have emerged from one of the wooden sculptures she makes. She is proud of being one of the oldest inhabitants of the Parque Triângulo neighbourhood in Juazeiro do Norte. There are many craft artists in her family, but she is one of the few women to give art a try. Her greatest pride, however, is her son Antônio Celestino. “I’ve done laundry for hotels and rich families, I’ve worked for over 10 years at the Craft Artist House just to raise my son. I can’t read or write, but my son went to the local university (with a degree in Literature and masters degree in Sociology) and I worked very hard for that.” Showing a picture of her son on his graduation day, this small woman starts to talk with extraordinary inner strength. With eyes wide-open and trembling voice, her stories are full of emotion.
Her son is a teacher now, but can’t keep away completely from his mother’s work. When he is at home he sculpts huge surrealist insects that seem to swallow the pain of hard lives in the poor countryside.
“I can’t make that many pieces nowadays. My body doesn’t help. It aches a lot but I have to carry on working. I’m fighting to get a state pension to help me, because I still need to look after my father who is in a wheelchair” say Zulmira.
She doesn’t realise how important her work is. Her memory sometimes lets her down, she repeats herself, but she is a strong woman. Her work today is quite limited, but it is the pure essence of the Brazilian countryside.