In Brazil, Carrancas is the name given to boat figureheads used as symbolic talismans to protect sailors from evil spirits. Tonico Lemos Auad was born and raised in Belem, Northern Brazil, a port town like Folkestone. There he was fascinated by the ritualistic processions for an afro- Brazilian goddess of the sea. In these celebrations a votive object symbolizing the wishes of the carrier - a brick for instance could represent a whole house - was transported through the streets down to the beach. Images of these festivals along with Folkestone’s own annual Blessings of the Fisheries, the Multi-Cultural Festival and Charivari procession were an inspiration to the artist.
The artist’s work in Folkestone Harbour resembles the Carrancas on fishing boats on the San Francisco River, and is distributed on the sea bed (a large brick fist) or attached to tall wooden poles (heads, gargoyle eyes, human forms in chalk and wood). They are revealed and hidden with the ebb and flow of the tide. Carrancas are zoo-anthropomorphic figures that frequently mix the features of humans, horses and lions. They are an expression of the universal desire for something magical, something larger than ourselves to help us conquer our fears.
Erosion and mutability are important qualities in Tonico Lemos Auad’s sculptural works and in Folkestone he was inspired by the weathered stone sculptures on the nearby parish church of St Mary and St Eanswyths.