Miguel Alonso is a carver and one of the master artisans of the Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva Foundation (FRESS). The Foundation has the goal of preserving and promoting the know-how of Portuguese decorative arts. The Foundation was present at the Luxury Design & Craftsmanship Summit 2019 on the panel ‘Present and Future of Craftsmanship’. CovetED has the pleasure of chatting with Miguel Alonso, to discover more about his incredible art of carving.
How do you describe your art?
MA: That’s a tough question. It’s a very complex art, very thorough. Starting isn’t hard, but the evolution is complicated. It’s an art that, as my master says, ‘a good carver is made through seven years of work’. So, it’s many years of work and there have to be challenges and an ongoing change in your style of work. Having innovation and different styles in order to be able to evolve and grow.
For how long have you been working with the Foundation?
MA: Almost eight years. It has been good, I’ve learned a lot. A great part of my professional life and my growth has all been done in the Foundation. So, I’m very grateful for working with the Foundation.
As an artisan, do you feel protected by working at FRESS?
MA: The Foundation is an institution. Currently, I’m part of the staff, that’s a big asset because, no matter what, I’m there, I have my job. And the good thing is I always have work to do. I’m always doing what I love and I’m always working on my field of expertise.
What types of projects have you developed with the Foundation so far?
MA: A lot. Mostly replicas, restoration, and now these projects with the new designers.
The new initiatives help raise awareness towards the work of artisans. Do you feel that visibility is something important for your work?
MA: Of course, it’s really important. Not only because it gives value to our work, but also because it’s promoted. Has I said earlier, I think that these types of crafts began to be forgotten. And this new introduction of design in traditional craftsmanship is very important to us, to our personal promotion as well as our promotion as artists.
Do you believe that the arts are marginalized?
MA: In a way, yes. People are still not very receptive to this type of work. That’s why I talked so much about promotion, because I was lucky enough to be a part of Homo Faber in Venice, and the people’s reaction is completely different from the reaction of the people in Portugal.
Do you believe that the Portuguese mentality will ever change?
MA: I believe so, as a matter of fact, it’s already changing. This event is proof of that.
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