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Serenity mary attard

Retrospective Exhibition 2011 mary attard

Serenity and Resolution E.V. Borg

Tranquillity, serenity, peace and abject wonder are vital elements that emanate from Mary’s images. She communes with nature. The mystery, magic and enigma of the red disk of the sun rising or sinking into the ocean with the accompanying silence, peace and rest such resolution evokes and its mystic effect on man is the artist’s inspiration and what her expression intimates or suggests. Her symbiosis with mother nature, her child-like wonder at nature’s phenomenon, her non-violence are expressed in her work. Mary is a lover of nature, of peace, of meditative silence. She is a mystic and her most recent expression is highly spiritual, lyrical, poetic and transcendental. The artist refers to her camera as a ‘spiritual tool’ with which she can experience the divine. Mary Attard hates labels. She reacts with claustrophobia if placed in a ‘box’ or category, if pigeon-holed. She resents labels such as photographer, artist or professional. Labels are limiting and disturb her. She does not fall into a category. She is anti-institutional and anti-establishment. As long as she can relate and communicate her feelings, emotions and sentiments, and as long as she can move


her public, touch their heart or induce a catharsis, then she is satisfied. She is jealous of her freedom, of her liberty to express herself freely without impositions and inhibitions. Mary’s creations are born from forms to become images through the power of ideas. All are related to habitat, to her environment and all are fragments of a wider discourse or argument, an infinite dialogue of an imagined wider world of reality. Reality is Mary’s obsession and being a natural philosopher her concept and vision is contemplating this profound subject. What is reality? Is it the result of fantasy and imagination? Is reality relative? Or is there an absolute reality? Reality as conceived by Mary is relative and personal. In fact she refers to it as ‘my truth’ as her expression is universal. Each one of us creates his own reality, his own world and seeks to live it. Thus reality becomes personalised, individual, rare and unique. It becomes our truth, our creed and evolves into dogma and we jealously shelter behind it, protect and defend it from rivals, from friend or foe, and from creed it becomes faith. Art is perhaps expressing this personal reality that bridges the individual to the universal, to the collective imagination.


Mary has dreams. She lives for the reality she creates, for the truth she believes in; even if truth like reality is relative. Every person perceives his own truth, his own



reality, his own art. Man might live a lie, an illusion. We refer to life as a short passage, a dream come true or a dream that evolves into reality, into experience.

relationship with the disillusion or tragic sense of complete isolation, of complete loneliness and utter emptiness.

Yet man is content to live his dream to the full ever hoping that tomorrow the sun would shine brighter, stronger and warmer. Man is ready to live in a loving relationship with nature in such warmth, in a loving and infinite embrace with life even if it is merely an illusion. Perhaps art bridges this illusion of a sham

Love cures and strengthens man as the works by Mary Attard do too. Life, art and love merge and empower man to live a lie that educates and transforms experience into an ideal: an artistic expression. Mary’s art is her ideal, her Êlan vital, her philosophy, her will to live in love of nature and man.










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Before Mary took up photography in earnest in 1975 her earliest phase was expressed in collage, assemblage and montage using found objects – pressed plants and flower material. Her works were intended for her personal satisfaction and enjoyment and not for exhibition. These works could be termed ‘arte povera’ made very crudely on pieces of odd cardboard and cheap glue, just to capture instantly what she had in mind. Some deteriorated and disintegrated but fortunately some resisted the test of time and are actually exhibited in this retrospective. After 1975 Mary discovered with awe the fascination of photography after acquiring a Browning Kodak box camera. She attended classes at the Malta Photographic Society premises in Valletta under the tuition of a retired Englishman Charles Herbert. He taught her a novel way of seeing things and feels indebted and grateful to her tutor. Man Ray bore a great influence on her especially with his photograms and with great fervour she hoarded all sorts of object trouvé such as feather, lace, minute objects that can be placed in an enlarger negative carrier to project on paper and anything with an interesting outline or perforations for imprinting on paper. The artist savoured this phase immensely.

In 1986 Mary’s adventurous spirit spurred her to travel abroad. In UK she attended a diploma course in photojournalism at the London College of Printing (198687). After successfully completing the course she was employed for a further year with a picture agency – an interesting and experimental job. After she returned home she often wrote illustrated features on varied topics for local and foreign media as a freelancer. In the 1990’s the artist went through a phase that one can term more spiritual and emotional and therefore Mary needed an effective spontaneous medium to express subtle, intangible experiences such as a sense of rhythm in music, passion towards something or someone or the galactic movement in the universe. She needed something dry and not messy to grab a moment spontaneously, in a split second. She took fancy to soft pastels as a medium and turned to the artist Anthony Lucian Cauchi to help her undrstand the handling of it and its potential. She also joined art appreciation and criticism courses in history of art at AZAD in Republic Street Valletta. In September 1997 the author organised a personal exhibition of Mary’s work at the Ministry Hall, St Francis Square, in Rabat Gozo. It was entitled ‘Timelessness’ and came about after experiencing a tandem parachute jump. Her photography was a formidable threat to tradition and convention with the use of modern technology.

Her work almost 14 years ago was so innovative that she influenced a leading well known local photographer. Purposely photographed angled shots were mirrorimaged in her computer to form fantastic compositions as if gazing through a kaleidoscope. In 1998 ‘Without Boundaries’ a critical essay by the author appeared in Malta This Month, the Air Malta InFlight Magazine (January 1998, no. 94) an analysis of her vision and concept, of her prismatic phase. Dame Francoise Tempra awarded Mary Attard with a Special Commendation in Photography at the International Art Biennale of 1999. In May 2010 the artist participated in a large collective art exhibition: ‘Unity in Diversity’ at De La Salle Palace, the Malta Society of Arts venue in Republic Street Valletta. Her work ‘Reflections’ a strong colourful image was adopted by the Art Discussion Group (ADG) as the exhibition poster and logo. It became a hit within weeks with its bold impact and forceful nature. In 2011, the Art Discussion Group (ADG) invited her to its monthly event: ‘Meeting Artists’ (Tuesday 19th April) while concurrently she held a personal exhibition at the Intercontinental Hotel in St. Julians (18 April – 23 June). Actually the artist is holding a retrospective exhibition at Cavalieri Hotel in St. Julians showing a collection of 55 works outlining her career. E.V. Borg

43 With Office Team in London, 1987

44 Tandem Parachute Jump, 1993

45 1999 International Art Biennale

index 46

06 Aged Door Panel 07 Door Detail 08 Pastoral Scene 09 Nature’s Pattern 10 Doorway (1) 11 Doorway (2) 12 Doorway (3) 13 Melting Sunrise 14 Reflections 15 Age in Stone 16 No Escape (assemblage) 17 The Grip (collage) 18 Gozo Glory 19 Mtahleb Valley 20 The Lighthouse, Gozo 21 Abstraction in nature 22 Peek-a-boo 23 Red Flowers 24 Window Interior, Mdina 25 The Gateway, Mdina 26 Cloud Cluster (cell phone) 27 Two Islands (cell phone) 28 Morning Haze (cell phone) 29 Morning Prayer (cell phone) 30 Sundown 31 The City 32 Beyond Xlendi Bay 33 Cracks 34 Roman Wall 35 Projected Light 36 Nature’s Colours 37 Studies in Photograms (1) 38 Studies in Photograms (2) 39 Holiday Time (soft pastel) 40 Alleyway (soft pastel) 41 Gender Games (collage) 42 Country Interior (collage) 46 Wise Owl (assemblage)

Acknowledgements: Exhibition Catalogue

SERENITY by Mary Attard

Art Discussion Group Valletta Fund Management Mr. Mark Vella Head of VFM Middlesea Insurance p.l.c. Mr. Joseph FX Zahra Chairman Cavalieri Hotel Mr. Mark Camilleri; Mr. James Cassar; Mr. Stefan Baluci Mr. Aldo Busuttil Curator: E. V. Borg Design & Layout: E. V. Borg Text: E. V. Borg ©

Front cover: Liquid Silk (1) Back Cover: Sunkissed Boat (2) Front Cover (inside front): Misty Mdina (3) Font Cover (inside back): The Bridge (4) Title Page: Sundown (5) Printing: Best Print Co. Ltd ISBN No: 978-99957-0-072-0

Cavalieri Hotel: 17th August - 18th September 2011


Catalogue of my Retrospective Art Exhibition held at the Cavalieri Hotel in St Julians, Malta between the 18th August and the 14th October 2...


Catalogue of my Retrospective Art Exhibition held at the Cavalieri Hotel in St Julians, Malta between the 18th August and the 14th October 2...