Cyclone Belal represented a boon for the sculptor. From the debris carried by the waves and raging waters, he created masterpieces.

He sculpts what he wants. What he smells. What he sees. He sculpts out of passion, out of pleasure. For his soul. Between Pem (Philippe Edwin Marie) and the woods, the heart beating with an almost mystical connection. For fifty years now, he has been respecting, shaping and working with wood, giving it multiple incarnations.

“Mo pann al lekol, mo pann voyaze. My sculptures are my disciples, they have traveled the world”

When we meet him at Le Caudan, Pem is peacefully working on sculpture. He is very happy. Cyclone Belal was a boon for him. In the debris carried by the waves and raging waters, he recovered his raw material.

Pem: A heart that beats for wood

“I collected some wood. I told myself I could do something with it. De, trwa zour antie monn ramas dibwa. Ti bizin fer kouma dan zistwar ‘The cicada and the ant’,” he smiles. This is how Pem built up a stock. “Monn ramas dibwa pou trwa, kat mwa. I didn’t need to go look for wood, it was the wood that came to me,” laughs the 77-year-old sculptor. From these recovered materials, he has already made around ten sculptures, he reveals. Thus, from the debris of the cyclone, which devastated many lives, he created masterpieces.

Pem: A heart that beats for wood

Sitting in his small workshop, where his numerous works are exhibited, Pem talks to us about this innate fire that drives him. Because he knows how to listen to wood, he knows how to look at it. “Mem enn skiltir kase, mo get li, mo dir li 'mo pa pou zet twa'. Lerla li vinn inpe plis seki mo panse mo kapav fer,” he confides.

Pem: A heart that beats for wood

A madman, him? No, but a wood worshiper. And yet, when he started, his former colleagues actually suspected him of having one less slot! It was at the time when he worked as a plowman for the municipality of Port-Louis, says Pem. He was then around twenty years old. “One day I picked up a root. I can't explain what this did to me. I left everything there and left…” he said. He still remembers the words of his colleagues, taken aback by his behavior: “Sa linn vinn fou sa!” Ki zame linn found enn rasinn! »

Pem: A heart that beats for wood

That night, Pem barely slept. “Sa lepok-la ti pe kwi manze lor dibwa. Monn dir bolfam pa tous sa dibwa-la. » In the middle of the night, his instinct takes over. In his hands, this piece of wood comes to life, transforms, comes to life. The sculpture was completed the next day.

Pem: A heart that beats for wood

When Pem goes to his workplace with his work in hand, his colleagues are astonished. “Bann koleg say 'eh, Nelson Mandela sa'. Lerla bann-la say 'eh vann sa ar mwa'. My response: 'yer zot ti pe dir mwa fou, aster pou aste kitsoz ar dimoun fou? » he remembers with a burst of laughter.

Pem: A heart that beats for wood

The fact remains that the admiration his work arouses gives him great pleasure. “I was walking in Port-Louis and a lady called out to me. She said to me: 'It's art.' » Amused, Pem declares: “Mwo, ki mo kone mwa. Premier, mo mem pa ti kone call sa skilliltir, mo ti enn zanfan kouvan mwa. Madam-la pe koz ar mwa, mo pa konpran, donk tou seki li dir, mo reponn wi. »

Pem: A heart that beats for wood

This success boosts Pem's confidence: “People in the street told me 'to skiltir mari serye'. » At rue Desforges, “mo pe marse, mo pe fer gran nwar, enn misie sinwa dir mwa: 'Vande sa?' » he continues. Pem responds in the affirmative and asks for Rs 25 to give him his work. “Sa lepok-la, Rs 25 ti enn beautiful lamone. Mo ti pe earned Rs 4.50 per day. With Rs 25 million won in such a mess. Monn marye mwa,” he points out.

Pem: A heart that beats for wood

The trigger that this root picked up in the courtyard of the Port-Louis municipality liberated his creative energy. And Pem begins to sculpt. It brings wood to life, like a divine creator. “One fine day, I took my works to the beach, in front of the Veranda Grand Baie hotel. My intention was not to sell them,” says Pem. A gentleman came to meet him. “Li dir mwa: 'Eh bolom, seki ou pe fer la pa bon. »

Pem is taken by surprise and retorts: “You didn't find it good, you didn't find it good, or, or did you find it good or? » “Vini mo show ou”, replies the man in question, before taking him into the hotel establishment. “He said to me: 'Isi ki ou bizin ete'. I spent 25 years there. »

Pem: A heart that beats for wood

Since then, for half a century, wood, which has become an essential element of his life, as essential as the air he breathes, has accompanied Pem on a daily basis, like the sap of life. “Today, from roots to branches, I work on everything. I can't do without the sculpture. I don't know what I would do if one day I was forced to stop sculpting. »

Does this job allow him to earn a good living? “Mo won lavi. “I don’t know what it’s worth,” he says with humility. Pem adds: “Mo pann al lekol, mo pann voyaze. My sculptures are my disciples, they have traveled the world. » And that is enough for him.

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