Ilha do Ferro, Fernando Da

(1928 - 2009)

Fernando da Ilha do Ferro (born as Fernando Rodrigues dos Santos) was born on the Ferro Island, in the middle of São Francisco river. In his early youth he worked on the land, planting rice, corn and beans. As the son of a clog maker, he began in the arts world by small objects in his father’s worhshop. When he was 40 years old, he built his first piece of furniture: a deckchair. In the 1970s he resumed his father’s profession, redesigning the original clogs. In 1979, a trip to Rio de Janeiro was also to influence his inventor’s path, since by 1980 on his return home, he began new projects, building the Bar Redondo, whose tables and sculptural chairs were the start of his career as sculptor and furniture designer. Benches he made were displayed in 1987 at the Brésil Arts Populaires exhibition, in the Grand Palais, Paris, and today are on show in the permanent popular art exhibition of the São Francisco Cultural Center in João Pessoa, capital of Paraíba State. He exhibited in the Paraíba Popular Arte Museum and Casa Cor in São Paulo, in 2001, winning an award for the environment of designer Arthur Casas, wich included Fernando’s three – legged high-backed chair. He took part in the O Sentar Brasileiro exhibition with 100 chair and benches, wich inaugurated the new Curitiba Museum by Oscar Niemeyer, where three pieces of his were displayed in the main room, alongside the furniture by the Campana brothers. He had an acute taste for organic, well balanced furniture. When he turned to sculpture at the turn of the 20th to 21st century, he created groups of terrifying beast-like, very often hybrid, creatures. His presence contributed to the gradual revelation of Ferro Island as a creative center inhabited by numerous artists.