Artist Spotlight: Jewelry Designer Helena Alegre
It might be difficult to emerge from the shadow of a successful artist. Not so for Helena Alegre, wife and muse of renowned painter Hermes Alegre, whose brilliance and dedication to jewelry design has allowed her to shine in her own right. A top finalist at the National Jewelry Design Competition sponsored by the Guild of Philippine Jewelry, as well as at the Creative Asean Jewelry Design Contest, where she was the youngest in her category, she had a busy 2015 collaborating with Philippine fashion and CITEM designers.
This year, Helena is working on a series of commissions as well as a collaboration exhibit with Bahay Nakpil Museum and Dona Petrona Nakpil (Joyeria Nakpil). She is also gearing to mount her second one woman show while continuing her study on metallurgy and gemstones.
Here, she talks to us about her passion and her kooky obsession with insects.
My passion for designing and creating sculptural jewelry in silver is a combination of science and the art of manipulating metals and silversmithing. I love art, science, music and beautiful things. I combine all of them with my designs in jewelry. Thinking about innovating on existing designs keeps me busy and sane. Culturally, I am able to me promote our hometown Paracale and Daet, Camarines Norte, where we are known for traditional filigree designs and where I learned the art of silversmithing. As an entrepreneur, it also makes me happy that in my own small way, I can provide jobs and opportunities within our industry. I get to exhibit my works in collaboration with the Dept. of Trade & Industry – Daet, Cam. Norte and also get the chance to exhibit at prestigious art exhibitions and art galleries in Manila. My passion expands my point-of-view and I get to know a lot of people from all walks of life.
I always start with a positive attitude and nice atmosphere. Flowers in my studio and at the dining table are a must. Every morning, I have my “muni muni” and coffee at Bagasbas beach. I listen to classicals and opera, and then blues while working. I stay locked inside my studio. I isolate myself from the real world and that’s where the magic begins.
From conceptualizing new designs, I hand-draw each piece, then when I’m ready, I melt the silver and press it into the laminador (rolling mill). I do play when I work. I enjoy cutting, bending, engraving, manipulating metals and polishing it.
Comfort food, coffee and good music make me creative. I also wander around the beach looking for objects that can be used as reference. I derive inspiration from nature. I love Coleoptera (beetles), Lepidoptera (butterflies) and Odonata (dragonfly). I am an entomologist by heart and give scientific names to my jewelry! In my lifetime, I don’t think I’lll be able to execute the 350,000 species of beetles but still, I am doing it!
What Makes my Art Distinctive?
I always tell people “res ipsa loquitor” or let my art speak for itself. I want to hear from people and art critics what they think of my art rather than to explain what I think of my art. Although, some say that my art is polished yet raw, intricate yet minimal, feminine yet bold and provocative. There’s always balance and softness with each pieces that I create. They tell stories and there’s always a part of myself in that design.
Advice to Young Artists
- Every artist need time to wander to get inspired!
- Never copy or compete with other artists. At the end of the day, it is only you and your art that matters.
- Just be yourself. What others think of you and your art is none of your business. Just believe in yourself and go after your dream.
- Be an inspiration to others. It’s lonely on top. Let others accompany you. The world is too big to embrace all the blessings. Share it with someone.
“Follow what your heart desires and you will find your treasure.” – my fave quote from The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)