The jewellery scene in Chile has been growing strongly in recent years. A large number of new outlets for art and designer jewellery have opened in Santiago, including work that draws from distinctively Chilean forms, such as the horse-hair weaving known as crin.
At the end of 2009, Chile held its first national jewellery competition. Organised by Galeria Ceppi, this competition took its context from the Bicentenary of Chilean independence. The inaugural winner was an established jeweller based in Concepción, down south. Marcela Bugueiro won with Corazón de Loica (Heart of Loica) including particularly Chilean elements, including feathers of the Loica bird and lapiz lazuli. Here is her statement about the work:
Throughout these 200 years, Chileans have travelled a unique and special path. This represents 200 years of love for the land in which we were born, grow and live. So how does a piece of jewellery reflect the importance of our mother land and the identity that we have forged from it? From this arises the idea of a reliquary, containing within itself a portion of our land, stressing its value and importance to us who have lived there already for 200 years. The bicentennial demands a homage piece adequate to the occasion. This evokes the image of a Chilean woman who carries on her chest this tribute to our country with pride and as a token of our country’s identity. The identity, the heart of Chile, is reflected in the traditional Chilean legend of the red Loica bird, and how chest of this little bird became red due to its nobility and generosity. This work is jewel is inspired by our people, in the nature of our earth and the elements that we draw from it, such as silver, copper and lapis lazuli. We find a piece that combines these elements to represent the noble heart of Chile and the sacredness of our land, in thanks for 200 years of support.
How did you become interested in jewellery?
Travelling and meeting places and experienced jewellers. I am captivated by the beauty of the stones and bright metals and their infinite combinations. I consider items of jewellery almost magical elements that remind us of the wonders that are within the earth. I think of each gem as representing someone in particular. That’s why do I care about individual pieces, rather than jewellery made in series.
Where do you get the skills in jewellery?
I started over 20 years ago, doing the finishing work for jewellery in a family workshop. At my first school, you received the raw piece, which you filed, sanded and polished until you could see an object that is lustrous and full of beauty, often crowned with gems of extraordinary brightness and colour. Then I developed on my own with endless hours in the workshop where I discovered how the metal could be adapted to the forms that would emerge in my designs. I also sought to learn from experienced jewellers who allowed me to observe and work with them so I could mix craft jewellery techniques with other more classic styles.
Now, where to sell or display your jewellery?
Joyería Bugueiro is in the center of the city of Concepcion in southern Chile. You can see pictures at www.marcelabugueiro.cl
What are your three main influences on jewellery?
- The ancient jewellery that joined symbols and stones, from cultures like the Egyptian, Mayan, Incas, Etruscan
- Importantly, Rene Lalique, (European jeweller early 20th century) with its organic beauty and delicate lines and magic,
- and now the Japanese design for its extraordinary success in simplicity and harmony of forms.
What is most important to you: to find a market, to search for beauty, to fit the body, or to make a statement about the world?
If only they could all be combined … It’s important to me to make jewellery of excellent quality, which reflects the mark of the author, a person. I prefer that the result is beautiful, although I am open to admire other forms of aesthetic beauty beyond the obvious.
How would you like to develop your career further?
To promote the development of jewellery design in the region where I live, through personal achievements as well as joining with other goldsmiths to create a core of identity making jewellery from southern Chile. My intention is to achieve a balance between sustainability needed in my shop-showroom and the development of a clear artistic practice, where you can take advantage of opportunities and present my designs in international fairs (I have been invited to "KARA Exhibition" in Paris, however for economic reasons is a difficult project to do). I wish I could have more time to create unique designs. a good way to combine sustainability with design and art could be to create a line of cufflinks (W Hotels in Santiago have sought an order from me)… "Business versus art" a complex formula.
Jewellery is a particularly important medium for countries like Chile and Australia that are faced with the challenge of finding their own identity. While European traditions of ornament favour precious metals and stones, such as gold and diamonds, it’s ex-colonies look to privilege elements unique to their world. In Australia, German modernism played an important role in wiping the slate clean of tradition. It’s fascinating to see how Chile engages in this common quest.