From Clay to Art + Diamantina
The Jequitinhonha Valley is located in the north of the state of Minas Gerais comprising the hydrographic basin of the Jequitinhonha river. The population of the region is estimated to be approximately 1 million people, and it's considered one of the poorest regions in Brazil..
In fact it’s a region of contrasts. The poverty, a result of the persistent drought and lack of jobs, cohabits with rich culture and strong social capital. It's a region where men spend most of their time away from home, in the big cities where they work in civil construction. To these strong women was left the responsibility of taking care of children and elderlies as well as of houses and areas of subsistence farming and, recently, through Community-Based Tourism.
A place of very inventive and unique artistic expressions, the Jequitinhonha Valley is a cradle of beautiful and creative manifestations: leatherwork, embroidery, weaving, drawing, music, wood sculptures, basketry, painting and ceramic crafts. Back in the day women called “paneleiras” (pan makers) started to work the clay for utilitarian purposes. The tradition was passed from generation to generation, from great-grandmothers to grandmothers to mothers and daughters.
Embark with us on that, not only ceramic arts immersion, but a genuine and affectionate connection and sharing with these masters of clay and life!
opening photo: ©
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8:00 Departure from Praça da Liberdade (Square of Liberty) in Belo Horizonte
12:30 Arrival in Dimantina – Voted to be a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is one of the main historic cities in Minas Gerais. A simple walk through the streets will take you on a journey through time. There are museums, churches, stores and restaurants that you will want to visit before leaving. Have lunch (not included) and explore this historic center.
14:00 A visit by foot to the historic center of the city – Walking the streets of Diamantina, you will be guided by our very own art curator. City highlights such as Casa de Chica da Silva and the old jewelry market Pádua, are just a few attractions that we will see during our walk.
18:00 Conversation circle – Our curator facilitates a conversation so that we can join sides and talk about the experiences that awaits us in the communities.
*Overnight stay at either Pousada Pouso da Chica, Relíquias do Tempo, Pousada do Garimpo, Pousada Capistrano or some similar place.
**Distances – approximately 300 km (187 miles) from Belo Horizonte to Diamantina, an average of 4.30 hours of traveling on paved road.
9:00 Departure – We will go from Diamantina to the community of Campo Buriti, in the municipality of Turmalina.
13:00 Arrival – After we arrive to the community we will go directly to the house of one of our skilled artisan ceramists. It is time to get to know her art pieces and enjoy a delicious lunch in her backyard together with her family.
15:30 Walking tour – A walking tour to get to know the pathways for the collection of clay. We will take this opportunity to chat with the young leaders of the community who will guide us while we enjoy the typical landscape of the mining hinterlands. The walking tour ends at the “Barreiro” (barro = clay), where our guides will show us the collection process of this raw material of the beautiful art pieces that we will see and make throughout the week.
17:00 Arrival at your host families – Time to get settled in and get to know one another.
19:00 Have dinner with your host family – The evening is free to rest or chat. Take the opportunity to enjoy the sounds of nature, the starry sky and the silence needed for a good night’s rest!
*Distances – approximately 200 km (124 miles) from Diamantina to the community of Campo Buriti, an average of 2.30 hours of traveling on partly paved and dirt road.
8:00 Breakfast with the host family – The breakfast will consist of good talks and delicacies from Minas Gerais.
9:00 Ceramic modelling workshop – Time to really put your hands to use! The artisans will teach you how to knead and pass the clay through a sieve before mixing it with water and shape anything from your imagination. The visitors will get familiar with the techniques and instruments used to create any desired shape. It is a great moment for interaction and laughs. Fun is guaranteed!
13:00 Lunch in the backyard – We will have delicious and homemade food in abundance in the backyard of one of our artisan hosts and their family.
15:00 Visit the community of Campo Alegre – Time to visit the space where more than 80 artisans from the village exhibit and sell their art pieces. We will have time to visit a small community museum. This is also a wonderful opportunity to walk around the village and interact with locals.
18:00 Return to Campo Buriti – Shower and rest at your host family.
20:00 Time to relax – Enjoy the evening together with dinner and laughter
* Distances – approximately 6 km (4 miles) from the community of Campo Buriti to the community of Campo Alegre – an average of 20 minutes of travelling on dirt road.
9:00 Painting workshop – Paint the molded parts from the day before by using the “oleio” technique (type of finish). The natural pigments, obtained from the soil will serve as the base of your new art piece. By using rare regional instruments, we will see our own art magically changing colors before our eyes. Truly experiencing and experimenting with a genuine Brazilian folk art.
Up next: At the end of the workshop, visit the store of the Association of Artisans from Campo Buriti.
13:00 Lunch – This time at another house one of our lovely artisan hosts.
15:00 Conversation circle – A talk with the Association of Artisans of Coqueiro Campo – artisans, hosts and travelers come together in a conversation circle with our curator Maria Sonia to talk about the exuberance of the popular folk art, looking for a historical red line between the present and the past.
18:00 Return to your host family – Some well-needed rest and a shower.
20:00 Burning ceremony – Time to collect the created pieces, burn them in the wood oven and celebrate!
9:00 Breakfast – A very special breakfast at the house of our host Zezinha. We will take the opportunity to get to know her ceramic garden and chat with one of the most famous and consecrated ceramic masters of the Jequitinhonha Valley.
10:30 Morning off to walk around in the community – Get to know some of the hosts better, watch (or even play) football, take a workshop in making the traditional local milk caramel or biscuits (have to book 48 hours in advance), read a good book, rest, take photos or simply do nothing!
13:00 Lunchtime at the house of a community leader – Her intelligence, articulation skills and care for the community is enchanting! She is a wonderful cook who opens her backyard to receive us with delicious homemade food!
14:00 Moment to remember – Maria Sonia will summarize our days spent together with pictures and learnings from our shared experience.
15:00 Good bye – Time to say good bye to our lovely hosts and take our little art pieces back home as a memory of this beautiful new experience.
19:00 An optional walk – Further explore Diamantina before having a good night’s sleep. The night will be spent at Pousada Poso da Chica, Relíquias do Tempo, Pousada do Garimpo, Pousada Capistrano or some similar place.
*Distances – approximately 200 km (124 miles) from the community of Campo Buriti to Diamantina, an average of 2.30 hours of travelling partly on dirt and paved road.
9:00 Breakfast at the Hotel
10:00 Departure to Belo Horizonte – On the way back in the bus, take the opportunity to exchange contacts and reflections with your travelpartners, watch a good movie or simply have a rest.
15:00 Estimated arrival in Belo Horizonte
*Distances – approximately 300 (187 miles) km from Diamantina to Belo Horizonte, an average of 4.30 hours of traveling on paved road.
Ceramic firing ceremony
Meals at community
- Take the opportunity to interact and get to know the family where you are accommodated.
- If you are buying artwork, consider buying it in different places. We will visit many ceramists and as many as 3 associations. It is a good opportunity to purchase different pieces and contribute to various families. Local sweets and delicacies will also be for sale.
- Bring a notebook, take notes, take photos… make sure to bring a piece of this trip back home.
- There is no phone or wi fi signal in most of the community, but in case of an emergency there is a land line available and some spots of connection.
- This trip does not include food while being on the road, not mentioned in this program or different than offered to the group.
- Bring comfortable shoes and clothing. The days are usually hot and the nights cold, so come prepared! But do not over pack your bag, you will surely want space for your newly acquired art pieces.
- Alcoholic drinks, phone calls or other personal expenses
- Flights to/ from Belo Horizonte and transport to the point of departure – Praça da Liberdade
- Food in Diamantina
- Optional and not mentioned trips or activities.
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