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.
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.
The Veg Box selling genuine organic produce will be open too, plus a new chic little cafe in the grounds.
23 euro for a one-off session, 20 euros if you book for more than one.
Please contact me to book
Saturday Morning Art Club starts this weekend too - on the
27th September at 10 am til 12.30 pm. We will continue to concentrate on good drawing skills, but also work with colour this autumn. I like to mix media and explore new ways of making pictures, so expect some fun!
Classes are held in my studio in ManikataSingle classes are 20 euro or 5 classes (to be taken before December 13th) 85 euro
Again, please contact me to book
I also have a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline - one will be in Sliema and open to children 14 -16, helping them to draw figures in motion. The last class will be at the rehearsals of a Flamenco performance and their pictures will be exhibited in the foyer of the theatre afterwards. More details soon!
I would like to run this course for adults later but I need to find a suitable venue first.
I am planning art classes at a venue in Sliema too, which many people have asked me about. It seems that Manikata is 'too far' for some :-) So I will come to you......
Again, more details coming soon, but please let me know if you are interested, and whether evening or daytime classes are what you are looking for. I will start by running my popular course of basic drawing and watercolour techniques, which helps everyone to start seeing differently and to begin or continue their Art adventure with added confidence and joy. I will add other courses later.
I find that it is always beneficial to work in a group as well as practice on your own. It's always good to see how other people tackle the same or similar subjects. Creativity grows and expands by sharing ideas and inspiration. Always working alone can be stifling and our work may become dull and repetetive.The more candles we light from our own flame the brighter the whole world becomes!
I am really looking forward to cooler weather and to meeting you at my autumn classes.
I have been really busy this last week taking down one exhibition and putting up another....... before I go on holiday.
All the details of the next exhibition are here
please pop along to the opening if you can. If not, the paintings will be at the Palazzo de Piro all summer. If you are in Malta they'd love to see you :-)
Immediately after the opening, I am off to London for a few days and then I'm going on an Adventure - my first trip to the USA. I will be visiting my great friend the artist Bruce Bingham, in Austin, Texas. I am very excited and really looking forward to being somewhere so different. The art scene will be the most interesting of all. Malta is tiny, 316 km2 (122 square miles). Every other person seems to be an artist, but we all know each other. Exposure to new and inspiring art is generally limited to the internet. Much as I love to browse foreign artist's work online, there's no comparison to seeing the real thing. I know that with my own work - it's hard to see the difference between a tiny picture and a huge one when they are all as big as your screen. And the colours - however hard you try to compensate - are changed by the processes of photography and individual screens. Texture and surface are hard to see on a screen too. There's something visceral about standing in front of a piece of art that really speaks to your soul.
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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