On the 14th July 2017 the Malta Arts Festival hosted an amazing performance at Fort St.Elmo. Ultima Vez gave us 'In Spite of Wishing and Wanting', a world acclaimed piece by chroeographer Wim Vandekeybus. Powerful in its sheer energy and drama, the all-male troupe explored "fear, the desire for security and the dreadful magic of sleep". The music of David Byrne underpinned it all, and two short films added to the surreal atmosphere.
It's impossible to describe in words though - so here is a short YouTube clip to give you an idea...
I had asked to paint the performance because it sounded so unusual and dramatic, with some nudity and what seemed to be men flying in showers of feathers. I wasn't disappointed; the sheer physical energy and total focus took their bodies beyond human limits. I caught as much as I could - I was spellbound!
In May I organised two painting trips to Trapani in Sicily for my students. We really did a lot of work between us, and had a good time exploring some interesting sites ..... as well as feasting on fresh fish and local wines!
The cave has been inhabited since Palaeolithic times and in the 1800’s was turned into a small village by the Mangiapani family. Four family units lived there for 150 years until after the Second World War, when most of the inhabitants emigrated.
The Di Rosario family continued to live there, using it as a large stable and store.
In 1982, destroyed by the animals and quite derelict,a group of young people from Custonaci decided to restore the place and hold an annual Live Crib in the cave. It took years to restore the abandoned buildings and surrounding areas. They sourced examples of traditional tools and wares, and it is now a kind of living museum, with animals in the pens and the rooms displaying various crafts such as the making of barrels, clothes, puppets, carts, and food.
The photos above were all (brilliantly) taken by Melanie Geraghty
It was all very well done and we had a great time exploring before we settled down to paint.
It’s a challenge to draw such a massive cliff and keep the sense of scale and perspective –
I’m not sure how well I managed but it was fun trying.
My visit with the second group was on a Sunday and we were overrun by about 50 motorbikers obviously on a Tour, and we were all entertained by a group of traditional singers in local costume..... they did kind of disrupt our painting, but they offered to share their wine with us, so we forgave them !!
I couldn't help thinking that Malta has so many locations that could take this idea and restore interesting but currently derelict areas.
Close to where I live, the old village of Manikata "Razzett tal-Qasam" has been very well restored and preserved by the local farmers (see Koperattiva Rurali Manikata ) but there are many once-inhabited caves in the area that could be used in a similar way to the Sicilian one - even a Living Crib! Just an idea....
Last weekend though, I was further north, in Italy itself. Led by our intrepid Leader Andrew Smith, seven of us represented Malta at the Fabriano Watercolour Convention. Fabriano is the home of the famous watercolour paper loved the world over. The mills have now moved out of the town, but we toured the old paper mill and museum. Some of us even had a go at making hand-made paper!
We stayed in a nearby hilltop village called Collamato which means 'love of the hills'.
The Andrews Smith and Borg, Anna Galea, Sarah Calleja, Diane Agius, Joe Casapinta and I did our best to show Malta at its best. Anna gave a demo in front of hundreds of people (I wasn’t brave enough!) we danced to a brilliant ethnic band at the final party, painted in the streets with the rest of them, ate as much pasta and drank as much wine as we could. Malta should be proud of us. This was all self financed, I have to say. We deserve to be supported next time.
On the way back to the airport we stopped off at Gubbio and Assisi – both beautiful and full of delights.
The seven of us are plotting more adventures together including an exhibition of the works we created, so watch this space!
I wonder where I will be going next?
Meanwhile, my Tuesday morning classes are moving from Le Meridien in Balluta Bay to Palazzo de Piro in Mdina from the 3rd May. I am looking forward to helping students tackle those great open views from the upper terraces!
My classes still continue at Villa Bologna on Friday mornings. This Wednesday 4th May we will be opening our first Spring Exhibition of works there. My students and I are hanging two works each. It will be open to the public from 5th May to 2nd June, so do drop in if you are in the area.
To all my friends, 'followers', and students past , present and to come, I hope that you have had a wonderful, magical Christmas and New Year celebrations. May 2016 bring a cornucopia of joy, wonder, beauty, good fortune and all other wondrous things spilling into your life!
You may have noticed that I fell off the weekly blog ladder in the last few months of 2015. Sending it out so often was probably too ambitious - I'm going to try and write a monthly one this year, plus a newsletter-y thing about classes and whatever else I've been up to art wise.
I am looking forward to starting a new series of Creativity Classes to stimulate and inspire old and new students. The first one will be January 30th at 10am in my Manikata studio and after that on the last Saturday of every month. We will explore different methods and materials, techniques and tools as a path to finding unique and personal work. Everyone can gain from 'playing' like this; it's a great way to push the boundaries of your knowledge and discover new ways of working that will enhance your skills. We'll cover things like textural surfaces using tissue paper and collage, using 'found' objects, creating happy accidents and generally having a lot of fun.
Meanwhile, my weekly classes will begin again next week.
Tuesday 12th at Le Meridien 10am - 12.30pm
Thursday 14th at Ta Mena in Gozo 10.30am - 1pm
Friday 15th at Villa Bologna in Attard 10am - 12.30pm
Basic classes for beginners, improvers and wish-I-could-get-going-again-ers will start in February.
All classes are 20 euro, or 100 euro for 6 classes paid in advance.
Please Click Here! to contact me for bookings or more info. (PS I don't teach children.)
Here's to the most creative and fulfilled year of our lives!
It’s not common for a creative person to excel at business and marketing. One skill usually outweighs the other. Marketing the Arts is best done by those who are not directly involved in creating it. You can’t be over sensitive if you are good in business, and you can’t be insensitive if you are going to create meaningful pieces of art. Business people know how their world works; it is built on things that have worked in the past, proven methods and safe approaches. A good business model is a sound, logical left-brained piece of thinking, with steps to take to reach the goal.
One of the last things we may think of is a happy customer. Putting that into the mix often stifles the flow. That’s not good business, but it’s certainly good for us. We are feeding our own soul, helping it to grow and express itself in its own unique way.
There are many innovative ways of running businesses now, of course, with the internet so easy to access and use. Creative people, like me, can really enjoy making websites and skimming through hundreds of inspirational images online. I like playing around with the way the pages on my website look, and editing my own paintings. But I know that I fall down when it comes to the promotional and marketing side of it all. I start and then retreat. It doesn’t feel right for me to put ‘BUY ME NOW!’ buttons under my pictures. Feeling isn’t part of most businesses though, is it. What to do??
There’s only one you, only one me. You can’t really copy me, and I can’t copy you either, but together we can move forward by inspiring and supporting each other. We can’t really be in competition with each other if we are both following our hearts. That goes against most business models of course, but creativity can’t be contained or restricted, otherwise it withers and dies.
Copied ideas don’t have the original inspiration or fire behind them, and although art forgers can make big bucks, most people make art because it gives them pleasure and a sense of personal achievement. Essentially we are all unique even if we ‘borrow’ every now and then. When you translate someone else’s idea through your own talents and processes, it becomes your own. That’s different to copying.
For this reason I am happy to share everything I have ever learnt or discovered. All the years that I have spent teaching and encouraging others to discover the joys of drawing have probably helped me as much as my students. Trying to describe the process of drawing in words has clarified and distilled it for me. It has also shown me the simplest ways to teach drawing to anyone who wants to learn.
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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