ADC Awards March 21, 2017
The tiny island of Bermuda is famous for a lot of things, from the Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail (made with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, naturally) to the concept of knee-high shorts as acceptable business attire. Perhaps even more quintessentially Bermudian are the famous pastel-colored limestone houses that dot the island. This tradition dates all the way back to the 17th century, and today the peaches, yellows, mints and lavenders are arguably as iconic as the pink sand beaches.
Because these cottages are so iconic, it made sense for the jury members of the 2017 One Show and the ADC 96th Annual Awards — presently judging at the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda — to see beautifully crafted centerpieces resembling these renowned cottages on their tables throughout the judging. The ADC juries in particular had their eyes trained for craft, and so there were plenty of oohs and ahs for the level of detail found in these creations.
And it was especially surprising to learn that the houses were constructed out of styrofoam, and that the artist behind them all was in the room in chef’s garb.
Meet Ernie Ogalesco. While his official title is Kitchen Artist, he has made himself and indispensable member of the team by going the extra mile and then some.
“I guess I’ve always had an artistic soul,” says Ernie. “Growing up in the Philippines, I lived near both the rice fields and the beach, which gave me access to plenty of clay and sand to work with. But I never thought of doing anything like that as far as a career is concerned.” Instead Ernie decided to go a more culinary route, beginning as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant, and through eight years of hard work, rose up the ranks to head chef.
Eventually Ernie found himself working on a cruise ship, where he had the opportunity to reconnect with his artistic childhood by trying his hand at ice sculpture. “I gained some great tips from a food artist in the Cayman Islands, but mostly I taught myself from YouTube videos,” Ernie laughs.
It wasn’t until Ernie found himself here in Bermuda that he really discovered his niche. “Bermuda is a very small island with few local resources,” he explains. “You can’t just go to an art supply store and find everything you need.” Instead Ernie gained his inspiration next to the dumpsters of the hotel. “I used to see all sorts of material that the hotel would be throwing out or recycling, and I thought ‘hey, I could really make use of this!’ And so, whether is was scraps of wood crates, pieces of sheet metal, anything at all, I asked my co-workers to leave all of this material near my workshop.” And slowly but surely, Ernie gained a reputation throughout the hotel and across the island as the man that turned trash into art.
“You can’t just go to an art supply store and find everything you need… I used to see all sorts of material that the hotel would be throwing out or recycling, and I thought ‘hey, I could really make use of this!’”
Some of the coolest examples of Ernie’s craft are the aforementioned Bermudian houses. “The hotel had these centerpieces for dinner tables, and I felt that they weren’t really representative of the island’s unique culture,” he explains. “I felt that these beautiful, colorful cottages you see all over the island were the most Bermudian thing the world knows. I found some scrap styrofoam, and along with other odds and ends, I built my first one, and showed it to the staff, and they said ‘wow, can you make more?’”
After the Bermuda houses, Ernie was soon making other projects to transform the hotel’s aesthetics, palm trees made out of old hotel towels, fish carved out of scrap wood, even furniture painstakingly crafted out of broken pallets. When Hallowe’en comes around, the entire island turns out for his pumpkin carving, and his Christmas gingerbread houses make the local news every year.
Since ADC and the One Show judging is unfolding at the hotel, Ernie decided to show off his his ice carving talents for our esteemed jury. Armed with a chainsaw, a few other drills and tools, some reference photos and only an hour of free time, he transformed a giant block of ice into a gleaming One Show Pencil and ADC Cube, unveiling it at the evening’s dinner.
It’s funny. With all of the incredible entries being viewed here at the judging, sometimes there are artists right under your nose.
The 2017 One Show and ADC 96th Annual Awards will be presented during Creative Week, May 8–12, 2017.