A personal selection of photographs with their stories.
175. Orange and blue
DECEMBER 2008: Orange and blue
A large-scale handicraft exhibition has been held at Expominas in Belo Horizonte for more than twenty years. This exhibition – generally held late November, early December – is claimed to be the largest handicraft fair in Southern America. Every year, there is a certain main theme. In 2008 it was ‘Japan’, because the ‘Japan Year’ was celebrated in Brazil that year. An entire pavilion was decorated in the Japanese style, and showed a large collection of Japanese handicraft, food and drinks. However, it was not only Japanese handicraft that was shown at the fair. Handicraft artists from all Brazilian regions had gathered in Belo Horizonte: among others, indigenous handicraft from the Amazon Forest, and handicraft typical for the Northeastern, Western, and Southern Brazil. A large share was from the organizing state: Minas Gerais. The colorful cloths shown in the photograph are from the state’s countryside.
© Adriano Antoine Robbesom 2008, 2016
Pontal da Barra is a district of the city of Maceió, capital of the tiny Brazilian state of Alagoas. The district is a peninsula that extends from the center of Maceió in southern direction along the margins of Lagoa Mundaú and the Atlantic Ocean. Pontal da Barra appears to be a small village rather than a municipal district. Most men are fishermen, while many women have dedicated themselves to handicraft. The main street in Pontal da Barra hosts dozens of small stores and workshops where these women (and some men!) work and sell their artsy creations. The most common handicraft type that is produced here is called filé, which resembles embroidery, making use of colored cotton fibers. This technique is already more than two centuries old, but only recently, with help of the SEBRAE institution (Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas: Brazilian Consolatory Service for Small Enterprises) the handicraft became professionalized. More than one thousand women (often many family members helping each other) obtain their income with filé handicraft. Below are some portraits of handicraft workers and examples of their creations (pictures taken with their permission):
Articles about Pontal da Barra and filé handicraft: part 1 / part 2 / part 3
Article about Maceió (history and tourism, with videos).