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Malta through the eyes of people

Spring Edition | Issue 109

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Editorial Note

A

s part of our revamp plan for 2019, we felt it was time for a few changes in the VIDA magazine. This change coincides with the Spring season, a time generally associated with growth. The new concept kept in mind one key question; “What should VIDA stand for?” Indeed, VIDA seeks to define a Maltese lifestyle through the eyes of local personalities, entrepreneurs, professionals, academics and also common people we come across whilst watching TV, shopping, walking into Valletta or whilst driving to work during the busy traffic hours. In order to reach our objective, VIDA looks at lifestyle at a micro level and gradually looks into the other circles which lead us to the macro level. We look at the individual in the context of key themes including fashion and interior design. Lifestyle is later observed through the eyes of people hidden in various corners of local towns and villages. VIDA also looks at lifestyle from a national point of view including photography, culture, entrepreneurship, environment and infrastructure. Last but not least, the local lifestyle is also seen in the context of the country’s surroundings thus touching on topics such as health, travel and food. When all themes come together, the reader is provided with a holistic picture of what contemporary Maltese lifestyle stands for.

We wish you all a pleasant read! Editor: Hermann Mallia - editor@vida.mt Design & Proof reading: FKL Team

No part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form without prior consent from FKL Ltd.

Front Image: Courtesy of Alan Saliba

While we make every effort to ensure that the content of VIDA is correct, we cannot take

Photos: We thank all contributers for providing photos and images

any responsibility nor be held accountable for any factual errors printed.


INDEX 23

The Third Generation

50

6

Music in their Veins

A President’s Legacy 27

A Family Tradition

52

10

Ala’ Hamameh’s Complex & Extraordinary Artworks

The Story Behind the Name 35

The Swedish Connection

12

54 Backpacking Southeast Asia

The Creative Element 38

Back to its Former Glory

59 Childhood Obesity. A Global Epidemic.

16

Functionality in Design 43

Through the Lense

60

18

Art into Fashion

A Touch of Blush 46

Malta Pavilion at the Biennale Art 2019


Photo: Brian Grech


A President’s Legacy Interview with H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta These include the challenges of climate change, social inclusion, the celebration of diversity, and a commitment to the principles of universal human rights. My Presidency has also focused on making practical efforts, to translate the values of social justice into a reality in the lives of our Maltese communities. I believe that whenever people promote solidarity, by working together to achieve the common good, then the whole of our society is enriched. For this reason, I opened the Presidential Palaces to be palaces of, and for, the people. These safe, respectful, and inclusive spaces have created a context for important dialogues, about the concerns and aspirations of the people of Malta and Gozo.

Photo: Mr. Jason Borg

A

s President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca’s term comes to an end, VIDA spoke to her on her efforts during the past five years to modernise the institution and bring it closer to the people, her philanthropic initiatives and her role in the Constitutional reform. How would you summarise the Presidency under your tenure? It is impossible to summarise all of the work that has been done over the past years. We have worked tirelessly to bring together thousands of Maltese people and international stakeholders, to discuss the most important issues facing today’s world.

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In an interview carried out at the start of your Presidency you noted “I bring in a working person’s perspective, rather than that of a retired person.” In what way has such a perspective helped to make the Presidency more active and closer to the people? I have always been committed to actively connecting with diverse communities, by listening to the aspirations and concerns of people. In this way, I hope I have worked to bring the Presidency closer to the daily lives of the people of our country, and provide a space for dialogue and connection. For example, I have made sure that the girls and young women of our islands are active participants in the Girl2Leader Campaign, of which I am patron. This international initiative, facilitated by the World Women Leaders Global Forum, is sharing an important message of gender justice and empowerment.


You have often stressed on the fact that you are “a people’s president.” Can you elaborate? One clear example, which I have already mentioned, is the way in which the Presidential palaces have been opened, to make them palaces for the people. I have always done my best to listen to the diverse communities in Maltese society. In particular, during my term as President, I have created spaces for vulnerable individuals, families, and groups to feel respected. Too often, people who are experiencing vulnerability and precarity also suffer from social exclusion, because their concerns are not heard, and appropriate action is not always taken. In what way do you feel the institution has been modernised under your tenure? To me, modernising the Presidency has meant the efforts that have been made, to ensure that the Office of the President and the role of the President accurately reflect the needs and aspirations of the people of Malta, in the twenty-first century. I augur that the focus we have placed on community engagement, across all sectors and strata of society, will continue to be taken forward, and remain a defining characteristic of the Presidency. Another example of modernisation, in a more tangible sense, has been the extensive renovations that have been made to the Presidential palaces. These palaces are a cornerstone of the cultural and

Photo: Office of the President

historical heritage of the people of Malta and Gozo. For this reason, I was so proud to support the Sustainable Regeneration of Built Heritage project, carried out by Perit Amber Wismayer. Over four years, she has done groundbreaking research in the area of energy conservation and occupant wellbeing in heritage buildings. San Anton Palace was a laboratory for this research, which will have benefits for the future of architectural heritage throughout the Maltese Islands and beyond. How has the Presidency contributed to less poverty, inequality and discrimination? Through its various initiatives, the Presidency has brought together academics, professionals, and stakeholders from diverse fields, including economics, law, healthcare, education, the private sector, and social policy, amongst others. For example, over the years, the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society has published a number of research studies and recommendations, some of which have been taken up in official policy and legislation. Another essential contribution is our work to put the concept of wellbeing on the national agenda. Before we were focusing on this area, it was not part of mainstream discourse in this country. However, now, it is a cornerstone of how we perceive the sustainable development of our society. Through the projects of the President’s Trust Foundation, we are aiming to empower young people to achieve their aspirations. These have included tangible initiatives

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to provide an empowerment programme for young mothers, and to encourage literacy and solidarity among Maltese children, including those with visual impairments. We have also facilitated an annual Readathon in collaboration with the National Literacy Agency and the National School Support Services. The raising of funds by the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation constitutes only 5% of all the work done during your tenure. What was the core work done during the past years? The Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation provides access to life saving treatment and care. As Chair of the Board of Governors, which develops policy, I have seen it as my responsibility to keep in touch with the vulnerable members of our society to ensure that the policies of the MCCFF are reflecting the needs, and providing the necessary support, for these vulnerable people and families. For this reason, I transformed the MCCFF into a Foundation, to ensure that it has the necessary autonomy and transparency. However, my other work has been equally important. Through my Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, for example, we have created strong partnerships both within the European Union and beyond, in the area of children’s rights and child participation. The President’s Secret Garden methodology which we developed has been exported to other countries,

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Photo: Office of the President

because it provides an inspiring example of how our children and young people can participate, as active contributors to society. The President’s Trust Foundation has undertaken numerous projects that specifically target issues of social concern. For example, it has developed an employment initiative to empower young people living in precarity, and another initiative that is supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds and socially deprived areas. I have also focused on the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights in numerous ways. One example is the support I have given to establish the European Observatory on Femicide at the University of Malta. This observatory is providing essential data about the deadly violence that is being endured by women and girls, all over Europe, and what we can do to stop this terrible scourge. In what way have you offered a stronger voice to NGOs? I have focused on creating synergies among the public sector, private sector, and civil society, both as Minister and as President. I believe that such collaborations are essential, because they ensure that our democracy will continue to be healthy. We must keep encouraging such partnerships and collaborations, in order to take our democratic aspirations to the next level of effectiveness. In this way, we will ensure that sustainable peace and inclusive prosperity are always a priority on the national agenda.


Photo: Office of the President

When I set up the CORE Platform, it was to bring businesses together with civil society groups, and to promote the corporate social responsibility endeavours of our private sector stakeholders. You spearhead the steering committee on Constitutional reform. How will such reforms contribute to a more relevant constitution?

Furthermore, as well as defending and upholding the Constitution, the President has the opportunity to take an active role as a defender of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms. During these uncertain times in the history of our world, we need more champions of these rights and freedoms, which safeguard the dignity of all of us. What legacy will you leave?

As I have stated in my various speeches on Republic Day, the reform of our constitution is an opportunity for the people of Malta and Gozo to have an active role in the relationship that is established, by the Constitution, between the State and its citizens. Reform is part of what makes the Constitution a living document, capable of reflecting the presentday aspirations and concerns of Maltese people. I will ensure that this process is inclusive and transparent, and engages with communities throughout our Maltese society. In a recent interview you noted, “The presidency, like any other constitutional institution, also needs to be reviewed.� In what way? I believe that the role of the President has changed since it was first introduced. There is so much for the President of the Republic to offer, in terms of being an impartial and objective voice in our society.

I hope that my legacy will be reflected in the work that I have done. Opening the Presidential Palaces to make them safe spaces for the people, and to encourage opportunities for dialogue and connection, is one part of this legacy, which I would love to leave. Ensuring that wellbeing becomes part of our national discourse and policy is another, as well as promoting the active participation and inclusion of all our citizens, including child participation. I believe that our people should be in control of their own lives and able to fulfil their aspirations, by feeling engaged as active citizens of our democracy. Above all, I augur that my legacy will be a celebration of the principles of social justice. We must keep reaching out across social and cultural borders, to build bridges which unite the diversity of Maltese society.

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The Story Behind the Name Interview with Krystle Penza, Owner of Mvintage

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he local fashion industry has another feather in its cap thanks to the amazing talent of Krystle Penza. Her handcrafted jewellery under the brand Mvintage is bold, fresh and compelling, with a focus on timeless beauty. Irrespective of the jewellery’s theme, each of Krystle’s creations emphasize her desire to “make something interesting and innovative”. Since the launch of her very first pieces, Krystle’s work has literally taken the market by storm, with interest also from the international market. We sat down with Krystle to discuss the ethos behind the Mvintage brand, her source of inspiration for her collections and her secret to juggle a successful business and a personal life. How did it all start? Mvintage started as a pipe dream. I’ve always been surrounded by strong women pushing me to achieve my dreams and reach my potential. My daughter’s birth spurred me on to set an example for her; by applying will power and determination, I wanted to show her that anyone’s dreams could transpire. As a result, Mvintage was started on the basis of honouring the women in my life, which in turn transformed into a community dedicated to celebrating and empowering women from all walks of life.

Jewellery is a reflection of who you are; the pieces you choose and the way you wear them, gives a little insight into your story

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Photo: Kris Micallef

Why jewellery? Because the power of jewellery is underestimated. It is transformative; with the ability to change your disposition and alter your confidence. Regardless of whether you’re wearing a basic t-shirt or an elegant outfit, throwing on a few key pieces has the power to elevate your spirit, as well as your look. Jewellery is a reflection of who you are; the pieces you choose and the way you wear them, gives a little insight into your story. Mvintage jewellery is more than just metal and stone; I use my designs as a means of telling a story, and in doing so, aspire to give women the ability to express themselves and exude confidence. Our pieces are infused with symbolism so that each woman can create her own little narrative with her jewellery.


Tell us about Mvintage. Mvintage is shaped by three core values; Women, Family and Fashion. We are a fashion brand dedicated to inspiring confidence in women through meaningful designs that celebrate individual stories. As values, Women and Family are inextricably linked; my own upbringing by a strong mother instilled a vigour in me to pass on that same strength to my daughter. As a result of this, I wanted to create a community she could look up to; illustrating a foundation of success and determination fortified by the might of women. Mvintage was inspired by my family and has become a family within its own right. Fashion comes into play by balancing the wearability of a piece with its significance. Our designs are sleek and dainty, making them timeless pieces that will maintain their trendiness, as well as their meaning. What does running an international brand entail? Exporting Mvintage has been challenging to say the least. You need to take calculated risks and adopt the mantra that ‘there are no mistakes, only stepping stones’. Determination and ambition are a must. Apart from a strong will, penetrating the international market demands thoughtful analysis of the brand and its ability to succeed. One needs to ensure the brand has the optimal marketing effort; from the product to the price, the location and promotion. With the market being saturated, international competition is intense, therefore we need to guarantee Mvintage’s ability to

stand by established brands, and be a competitor within its own right. You are a wife, a mum and an entrepreneur. How do you create a perfect balance between them? It’s difficult to maintain a balance, and I don’t always manage to do so. My personal life and work are intertwined and often overlap; my husband works alongside me and my daughter is a very active presence at the office. In this sense our core value of Family becomes quite literal, with my own family being such a significant part of Mvintage. I appreciate the fact that my family is by my side through my journey with the brand; my daughter has grown up seeing my dreams come true every day, and I am truly grateful to be able to illustrate the effects of a determined spirit to her. That being said everyone requires time to unwind. I make it a point to strike a balance when possible by taking time away from Mvintage and spending it with my family; whether its at home, out and about or on a holiday, their time is precious and I make sure to direct the attention required. What’s next on your agenda? I don’t want to reveal too much but there are exciting things on the horizon. Our first step is to set up the official Mvintage HQ this year; an overdue dream in the making. Consequently, we shall be opening more stores locally and franchising overseas. After this we’re looking to set up operations internationally and keep improving our online efficiency, with new markets in mind.

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The Creative Element Interview with Sef Farrugia, Designer

When did it all start? For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in the Arts. I can’t quite say when, but I was very, very young. My mother is a seamstress, my uncle is a tailor, my family owned a clothing business, one of my grandfathers worked in a printing press and my other grandfather started a timber factory, which my uncles then continued. All these things have, for sure, inf luenced my love of materials and creating from early on. My educational path has always been in arts and design also. What makes the Maltese Mediterranean surroundings such an interesting source of inspiration to your work? I was born and bred here, and so whether I like it or not, it automatically inf luences me. The Mediterranean Photo: Alan Saliba

T

here is something so compelling in the work of Sef Farrugia which quickly grabs your attention and encourages you to learn

more about her. Her work is intriguing, vibrant and with unique touches here and there, which are often inspired from her local and Mediterranean surroundings. Above all, her scarves, bow ties, eye masks filled with dried lavender seeds, pocket squares, and her exclusive cushion collection are what she defines as the product of a contemporary visual, with quirky characteristics. At her outlet in Rabat, Sef shared with us her passion for design, her recent collections and her plans for the future.

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has always been a hotspot for all sorts of things, from


merchants from all around the world trading goods, to mixing of civilizations, to political conquests, to religious battles, and so much more. All of this keeps inspiring me to further explore the surroundings, which I am very much part of. The Maltese Islands have such a full past and so much going on at present, that it is impossible not to be affected by it all in one way or another. One of your collections, ‘SAFFI’ is based on Malta’s geology. How can geology serve as a muse for a fashion collection? Personally, I look towards all sorts of subjects for inspiration. My latest collection ‘SAFFI’ was based on geological layers, and it also included patterns from other rock types, such as the ‘Agate’ rock for print variation purposes. Geology is amongst my many interests, however, in this case I thought it was very much appropriate to bring attention and open

conversation on what is going on around us, and our neglect towards our island’s scarce sources. One being our main source; limestone. The collection included prints inspired by limestone, sandstone and other blown out details from rock types and layers. Also, rocks in general serve as a great source for creating so many patterns. Is there enough awareness on local fashion talent? It has for sure improved. What there aren’t any of, are genuine critics, most of the time misinformation is spread via people who are meant to inform and most opinions are biased, and so one doesn’t quite get a clear picture or improve their work. We have got a long way to go, however the fact that we are talking about the scene and questioning it is already a positive thing. What projects does Sef Farrugia have in store for the upcoming months? I

am

looking

to

keep

growing

my

brand

‘SEFFARRUGIA’, to keep introducing beautiful items in my mini shop, and hopefully produce a clothing collection some time soon.

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Functionality in Design Interview with Désirée Azzopardi, Interior Designer and media. I became fascinated with interior design and knew that this was the subject I wanted to graduate in. How would you describe your style?

I

nterior design is all about finding the right balance between aesthetics and functionality. This is no easy feat; it requires creativity, expertise, organization, and patience. Local interior designer Désirée Azzopardi has proved to possess all such skills over the years, which are visable in every project, boasting her imprint. Indeed, her works are jawdropping and project her unique ability to develop an empty space into a functional place, where her love for colours and her creative flair shine through. VIDA recently met up with Désirée to discuss her style, her projects, and the industry at large. Your father is an architect and your mother an art teacher. In what way have your parents’ professional background influenced your career path? They subconsciously gave me a deep appreciation for art and design, and each influenced me in their own unique way without even trying to. Having said that, from an early age I knew that I didn’t want to be an architect, and neither did I want to teach Art. As I studied art at school and at college, I began developing my own artworks and experimenting with different techniques

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When designing solely for myself and my own satisfaction, my style is flamboyant, decorative, colourful and vibrant. It is far from subtle, subdued or grey. However, when designing for clients, I aim to give them something that doesn’t scream ‘Désirée’ but something that intrinsically reflects them, because they will live with it not me. I find it unethical to totally impose my style onto something which my clients are going to live in daily or wear. So first and foremost I ensure that the design is something that they can identify with. Secondly, it will be something that I both approve of and love. I will never create a design or an interior that I don’t agree with, or approve of. I do my best to find a happy medium between what the client specifies, and something that I believe looks aesthetically pleasing and special.

Tell us about the creative world of Désirée.


It has no boundaries, be it interiors, fashion, set design, furniture, art, street art, etc. In what way do you consider travelling as a source of inspiration? When I travel, I free my mind. I break away from the numbing routine of the familiarity of the usual streets, traffic, people, politics, vibes and work. When I travel, I feel more alive and free. It’s like my mind gets high on creativity as if it is connecting with a higher source of imagination. It is extremely liberating and highly addictive. As a result, I carry a little notebook wherever I go and write down whatever comes to mind. I also read a lot whilst in airports, planes, and trains. I find it helps me significantly and feeds my brain further. What do you look to achieve in every project to make it outstanding? Client satisfaction. The satisfaction of achieving something that makes people wonder, stop and smile. Be it the client or any passer-by, I find that to be truly rewarding. In what way is your work uniquely asymmetrical? I find symmetry to be tiring both on the eyes and the brain. Nature is very relaxing and not symmetrical, hence why I try to follow nature in that respect.

How is Malta changing from an architectural and interior design point of view? From an architectural point of view, it is changing in many ways, however, not all of these are as desirable as I would like them to be. From an interior perspective, it is changing in a great way I’d say. With social media platforms, people are more aware of how to invest in their space and how necessary interior designers are. It is no longer a subject solely associated with the luxury industry, but rather it has become a necessity for all budgets considering the amount of time one spends in a given space. Where do you feel that fashion and interior design are complimentary? Fashion design is a form of expression using clothes and accessories. Interior design, I believe is no different, except that it uses different media; furniture, walls and floors. What’s next for Désirée? I am quite a free-spirit and will go wherever the wind takes me. However, 2019 is proving to be very exciting with some very unique projects coming up in both the Art field as well as in the Design world. I am looking forward to seeing what else 2019 has in store.

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Art into Fashion Interview with Saz Mifsud, Designer

E

xotic birds, beautiful flowers, delicate plants and Maltese seashells are the perfect source of inspiration for Saz Mifsud’s impressive collections. Painter and designer, Mifsud has over the past years earned a reputation as one of the best products in the local fashion industry. Her brand was born from the idea that a painting can become a piece of clothing. She strives to merge the worlds of art and fashion by transferring her paintings and photography to fabrics, which are then hand-sewn into beautiful women’s and men’s accessories. Saz Mifsud shared with VIDA what encouraged her to develop her very own brand, her sources of inspiration and her plans for the future. What attracted you to design? I was drawn to the fashion world at a young age. A visit to a costume exhibition in France stands out in my memory. When you look at French historic costumes you find beautiful fabrics, impeccable sewing and the most intricate hand-crafted beading, stitching and embroidery. I was so attracted to the thought and hardwork behind each piece of fabric - the process a piece of cloth goes through before it even becomes a garment. This was my first taste of design, and since then I’ve been hooked. How did your studies at the University for the Creative Arts in the UK develop your interest to start your own brand? My studies taught me how to create digital textiles my degree was specifically in Fashion Print Design. It gave me the knowledge necessary for creating digitally printed designs on fabrics, and then turning those fabrics into garments. I believe that the most beautiful way of showing an entire print is on a scarf, as you get to see the whole design just as you would when looking at a painting in a frame. This mindset pushed me to start my scarf brand back in 2013.

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Photo: Kurt Paris

What story does the ‘Saz Mifsud’ brand tell? The idea behind the brand is that an artwork, be it a painting or a photograph, can become a piece of clothing. We create bold, richly coloured accessories that women can take from day to night. They are for the woman onthe-go, who wears simple, classic outfits but keeps them fresh and modern with a silken pop of colour. The colours we use for our products are special - we experiment, play with and mix unusual hues creating colour schemes that are different to most you would find on the market, and I think this is a strength for the brand. How has your project developed since setting up a stall with a few items at the Patches Artisan Market way back in 2013? The response I got from Patches market was so promising that it encouraged me to turn my passion into a fullblown business. The wonderful reaction I have received


from women in search of colourful clothes in beautiful silks encourages me to grow more and more. Today, the brand is just over 5 years old and features a collection of silk scarves and clutch bags, headbands and leather bags. We work with an array of seamstresses and specialist companies to create luxurious products of superior quality. To facilitate our continued growth we’re determined to keep searching for new collaborators and companies to work with. What inspires your collections? How does nature fit into your work? I’m inspired by different elements from nature. Last season it was florals, this season it’s birds. In the past we’ve also made a collection featuring seashells. What I love about nature is the endless opportunities it provides for unusual colour combinations and beautiful textures. You never find colours in nature that do not work together! The inspiration nature’s beauty provides is infinite, from the many textures in a single leaf to the bold hues of a parrot. How are striking images transformed into amazing accessories? I produce each design by collaging the nature photos I’ve taken with my own paintings - I put this imagery

Photo: Lain Genovese

on the computer where I create a digital design. This design is then sent to printers abroad where it is printed onto silk or leather, depending on the product it is being produced for. Our leather bags for example are printed in New York onto very high quality authentic leather. They are then sent to the production company where they are stitched to perfection. Each product has passed through several hands before it is perfected. What is important to us is that we know who is making our products, and that the workers we choose are happy craftspeople. This is an important part of our process and we believe that because of it, the final result is simply gorgeous. What are your plans for the future? Our main product range now includes silk scarves of three different sizes, silk clutch bags, headbands and a collection of leather bags with vivid avian prints. We take our time researching and creating a new product because we want the materials, feel and design to be just right. Next we are searching for ways of expanding internationally. Although our Maltese clientele are lovely and so dear to us, we want to share our products across the globe. For anyone interested in working with us to promote, share or distribute our products both locally or internationally kindly email info@sazmifsud. com. Website: sazmifsud.com

Photo: Lain Genovese

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Photo: Alan Saliba


The Third Generation Interview with Ivan Attard Sheet Metal Worker

O

ut with the old, in with the new”. This is a classic motto recycled over and over again throughout generations, often used to justify the changes permeating throughout society and our own lives. With the amount of goods we claim as broken or useless, the world is gradually developing into what is branded as a ‘throw-away society.’ This ‘garbage’ ranges from the obvious examples of food waste, to the material goods that have broken beyond apparent repair, to the objects we choose to abandon in exchange for their newer, more efficiently innovated counterparts. In this ‘throwaway society’, some professions are gradually in danger of extinction. Indeed, coming across a blacksmith, a cobbler, a knife grinder or a shoemaker is a rare sight in every town or village. Ivan Attard is one of the few remaining sheet metal workers in Malta. A profession which is gradually fading away in the name of what we often define as ‘progress’. He is the third generation of a family of sheet metal workers who notwithstanding the challenges and uncertainty the profession offers, still survive. Their purpose has changed, yet Ivan found a way to remain relevant. Uncertainty still looms, yet

nothing disheartens him to keep smiling and looking for ways how to ward off the challenges progress offers. We met Ivan in his workshop set in a picturesque building on the Msida coast, just a few steps away from the busy streets, the yacht marina and several offices. The place seems to take you back in time with various old machinery and tools scattered here and there in the workshop. Ivan’s face glows with enthusiasm when we ask him to tell us more about those tools. He goes into so much detail explaining every single bit and its role in his everyday work. Some of his tools are over eighty years old, yet still fully functional. There is a sense of sadness in his eyes when he remembers the daily struggle he faces to survive and the indifference society seems to show towards such longstanding professions. Our conversation quickly shifts towards the relationship between the profession and his family. Ivan notes that his father was a sheet metal worker and even his grandfather. “Some seventy years ago, my grandfather started working as sheet metal worker in Sliema, and in 1960, moved to

Photo: Alan Saliba

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Msida from where we still operate. It was a time when this profession was in high demand and with nearly a metal sheet worker or two in every town or village.” Ivan’s father took over the business and continued to run it alone for the next three decades. In 1996, Ivan joined his father. “From a very young age I used to spend my weekends and holidays there, watching my father carefully work on some broken item or a new order. It came quite natural for me to follow in my father’s footsteps.” Photo: Alan Saliba

one-offs, and that is a huge disadvantage for us.”

Photo: Alan Saliba

Times have changed and the industry is constantly under threat by an era which has made the concept of ‘disposable’ a norm, rather than the exception to the rule. “People are surrounded by DIY stores and other outlets which provide them with ready-made products, thus defeating our purpose.” He adds that we live in a time of uncertainty where it is hard to ensure consistency. “There are months when I hardly earn enough for a decent salary, whilst other months turn out to be surprisingly busy. Inconsistency is a serious issue as it does not offer you the possibility to plan ahead.” We ask Ivan what his daily tasks are. “People no longer come to us to mend their pots or pans. Those items are classified as disposable today. Our main work consists of the repair of industrial dishes and chimneys among others. The list of works we still service is getting thinner. Unfortunately, our work consists mainly of

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Today, at the age of thirty-six, Ivan looks ahead at the future of his industry and his own. When his grandfather moved into the current workshop, he had two employees. His work was in high demand and the future of the industry looked very promising. Today, fortunes have changed and he cannot afford an extra pair of hands. Plastic has taken its toll limiting the scope of Ivan’s profession. Not to mention ready-made imported products. Ivan is not disheartened and notes, “If we look back, my grandfather and father found opportunities in the market which kept them going. There are certainly new opportunities in the years to come. The future is hard to predict and all we can do is live day by day hoping things will get better or at least remain the same.”

Photo: Alan Saliba


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A Family Tradition Interview with Henry Demanuele, Owner of Roger’s Bakery

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idden in a quiet street in Żejtun, lies a culinary gem which holds one of Malta’s most popular food traditions. Indeed, Roger’s Bakery is famous for its cheesecakes prepared with that unique thin crispy pastry and classic filling. People from all corners of the island flock to the southern village for a bite or two of ‘il-pastizzi ta’ Roger’. The outlet is now run by Roger’s son, Henry Demanuele, who continues to tease the taste buds of locals and foreigners with cheesecakes, which many believe to be the best on island. We met up with Henry to discuss his family’s longstanding tradition of pastizzi making, on how the profession has changed over the years, and the misconception of pastizzi being associated with junk

Hawn tal-pastizzi, sħan u tajbin, tliet soldi ‘l wieħed, erbgħa xelin

food. What are the origins of Roger’s Bakery? My parents lived in Rabat, the place where my father worked as a baker, yet in 1968, they relocated to Żejtun. Whilst moving south, my father was on the look-out for a bakery. He was lucky to come across an outlet in Żejtun, which quickly earned a reputation among locals as one of the best producers of traditional Maltese pastizzi. My interest in the production of pastizzi came quite natural, since from a very young age I used to help my father until the time was right for me to take over. What pride does this profession offer? It gives me a strong sense of satisfaction to see people appreciate the taste of a good cheesecake. Unfortunately, locals often take for granted the work, the story, and the taste in every cheesecake. It is part of our culinary culture, and we should give the product more respect. Moreover, I am pleased to have recently developed cheesecakes which may be in a way, coined as ‘healthy’.

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In what way has the recipe of cheesecakes changed over the years? The method remains the same, yet the ingredients have changed significantly. The dough is no longer made with fat, but rather with a healthier option, vegetable butter.

This industry is struggling like other similar sectors. The young generation prefers to opt for professions which guarantee a higher income and less working hours. This industry requires many sacrifices, long hours and a lower return.

Unfortunately there are many people who are afraid to eat cheesecakes because of the high volume of calories.

Did you ever consider the possibility of introducing new flavours?

Do you feel cheesecakes should be considered as junk food?

I kept loyal to the traditional flavours, the demand for ricotta and pea cakes is still very strong. Introducing new flavours is highly risky and time-consuming. We only change flavour on Good Friday, when we use anchovies instead of corned beef.

I do not feel cheesecakes should be considered as junk food. We generally focus on the negative side of the product and often miss out on its benefits, including the fact they do not contain any additives to extend their shelf life, and that they are oven cooked. Moreover, there are misconceptions on the quantity of calories they contain. The figures often mentioned are not correct, exaggerated, and misleading. How many cheesecakes do you produce on a weekly basis? I would say, thousands. Only big volumes guarantee a stable income.

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Do you feel this profession is in danger of extinction?

Photo: Alan Saliba

Is there any interest from your daughter to take over the business? I am currently teaching my daughter the tricks of the trade. She is showing keen interest to follow in my footsteps and actively supports me in the business. Hopefully, she will take over the business in the coming years.


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The Swedish Connection Interview with David Vidal, Sous Chef at ‘Laholmen Hotel’, Sweden

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t is amazing how food can take people to different corners of the planet to grow their talent. I was aware of the impressive number of local talent in the food industry working in different corners of the planet, yet would have never imagined to learn about the story of a Maltese chef working in the Swedish city of Strömstad. I came across Chef Vidal through some work he recently posted on a social media platform which encouraged me to contact him, and get to know his story better. His work is amazing and highlights his sense of creativity and eye for detail. During our conversation, Chef Vidal shared his journey in the world of food and what attracted him to the home of ABBA. What attracted you to the world of food? My connection with food started at a young age. I always enjoyed watching my dad making cakes for special family occasions in Canada. When we moved to Malta my dad started working at my uncle’s confectionary in Luqa, and after school and on weekends I always used to go and help him with pastries, cakes and making ravioli. That’s when I realised that I wanted to work in the food industry. At first my thoughts were to work solely with pastry, but after starting at the Institute of Tourism Studies I realised that I wanted to be a chef and work with all types of dishes along with pastry.

Photo: Meto Khazragi

In what way did the Institute of Tourism Studies help you develop your culinary skills? The Institute of Tourism Studies was a really good way to achieve my goals within the industry. If I was going to be a chef I knew that I wanted to get the proper knowledge of the basics of cooking. A lot is learned in the restaurants and hotels that one works in, but I still believe that chef school is important to understand all the theory behind cooking, and to do the practise how it is meant to be done. The school also gave me great opportunities to compete both in Malta and abroad. What encouraged you to choose Sweden as your next destination?

Photo: Meto Khazragi

It wasn’t a hard choice since my wife is Swedish, but of course being one of the best countries to live in didn’t do any harm either. What encouraged me also was that at the time I moved I was following certain food competitions, where Sweden were always around the

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Photo: Meto Khazragi


top of the list of teams winning medals. When reading about certain restaurants I thought that the standards must be pretty high. How would you describe your style of cooking? My cooking tends to be Mediterranean with hints of Swedish cuisine. When I started to work in Sweden I was still choosing to cook Mediterranean food whenever I got the choice to decide what was to be cooked. But after a couple of years working here, I started to use more and more Swedish ingredients. I like to use different textures in my dishes as I think that’s a very important part in cooking. What are the major challenges of leaving your country to pursue a career abroad? When I left Malta to work in Sweden I was a bit nervous. The first challenge which comes to mind is the language. I think it’s very important if you are planning to move to a different country is to try to understand and speak the native language. It makes life much easier. Another challenge was the cuisine. It’s important to keep your influences which you were brought up with, but to also keep an open mind and be able to adapt to different types of cuisines and techniques which might not be so common in kitchens that you started out in.

Why is it important for local prospective chefs to look beyond local shores? I don’t really think it’s important, as I believe that by staying in Malta you’re able to have a good career in the catering business. I would see it more as a way to see other things, and learn different stuff. It’s a good learning block to have, that you have seen and worked in different places. If anything I think the question of ‘why abroad instead of Malta’, would come down to working conditions. In what way has the current young local talent in Malta and abroad helped to develop further the Maltese culinary industry? Young chefs are the future for the culinary industry in Malta. It’s a bit of a hard question to answer from not living there, but from my recent visit I do think that Maltese pastry shops are keeping tradition, whilst at the same time looking at other things done abroad. For example, I visited Busy Bee in Mrieħel, it still keeps the traditional pastries that we are used to, but also has started to introduce new things seen more in pastry shops abroad. This is down to chefs wanting to develop something different, but also keeping the traditional. You should never forget where you come from. How do your Maltese roots fit into your work? I try to keep my Maltese roots in the flavours I use. I do like to use Scandinavian flavours and tend to use them also, but I fall back a lot on flavours from my childhood that I was brought up on. I think Maltese cuisine is underrated sometimes, the usual cuisines gets a lot of recognition from around the world, but Malta being a small country is usually looked past. I truly believe that we are just as good, and we should be proud of our cuisine. What should we expect from David Vidal?

Photo: Meto Khazragi

For me, the next thing this year will be doing courses around the world, which will probably continue onto next year. Mostly all around Europe, but also places like Indonesia and U.S.A. In between that, I’d like to maybe start writing a book and who knows, maybe one day open something of my own.

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Back to its Former Glory Interview with Eric Gerardi, Architect at Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation

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t the doorstep of Malta’s capital city lies one of Malta’s most famous squares, the Triton Square, named after the iconic Triton monument that lies at its very centre. Indeed, the fountain is part of the central axis that extends from the glacis outside St James Bastion, its spur and garden in Floriana, through the Mall and Independence monument, Christ the King monument and embellishment, the Triton Fountain, City Gate and Bridge, Republic Street and down to the Spur at St Elmo; the concept on which the Renaissance-Baroque capital was built. The place has for many years served as a bus terminus, and a meeting point for many with its characteristic kiosks on its perimeter. As part of the Valletta regeneration, the square underwent a total overhaul, where the chaotic and dangerous bus terminus has been transformed into a fully pedestrianized open space befitting the entrance to the capital city, Valletta. The design also comprised the area known as Ta’ Biskuttin and the full restoration of the iconic Tritonfountain to its former splendour. Perit Eric Gerardi, design architect of the Triton Square project, shared with us the various stages of the project, the challenges they came across and other projects the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation is working on. What major aesthetic changes did the Triton Square project involve? Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation (GHRC), was tasked with the pedestrianization of the square and reorganization of all services operating within, drastically altering how the space looked and operated. Previously, one had to navigate through a chaotic circular passage flanked by kiosks and buses. There was no sense of the space with no site lines to any of the bastions. The new layout maximizes how much openness one can perceive from any location in the piazza. This benefit of

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this is twofold. A greater sense of space, monumentality and historical context is achieved. Having no blind spots creates a sense of safety and reduces the risk of crime. Kiosks and transport services surround the periphery of the square but leave a hardstone clad space open for the general public. In what way does the current Triton Square give true justice to the entrance of our glorious capital city? Triton Square was designed with three objectives in mind. Firstly its aesthetic approach and materials used had to complement both the surrounding historical context, and Renzo Piano’s Building Workshop city gate project. Secondly, a lot of thought was put into the experience of walking from Floriana through the piazza and into Valletta. Today you can approach Valletta linearly, through the main axis intersecting Kristu Re Monument, the main stair case and Triton Fountain, or angularly through the tree-lined avenues flanking the square. Historically the general public would have to take a similar angular passage through bastion walls to get to the main bridge. Archaeological pits show remnants of these demolished fortifications which have informed margin patterns and slope geometry of the square. GHRC also wanted the space to be an attraction on its own. It was designed to allow for large public events, carnival float access, as well as impromptu social gatherings. Consciously avoiding defensive architecture designs, three types of seating have been installed, successfully attracting different groups of people to rest and socialize for free. The project is proof that through new ideas, hard work and cooperation, a balance between historical context, societal wellbeing and functionality can be achieved. The Triton Fountain is certainly the central feature in City Gate Square. What did its restoration involve?


Photo: Eric Geraldi

The restoration and upgrading of the fountain was handled by a specialized team within the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects. GHRC co-ordinated with this team to achieve a successful project. The fountain was extensively damaged due to mishaps, past repairs and errors during the initial casting process. Apap’s tritons comprised of cast bronze segments which were then welded together. Each triton was disassembled, into two pieces at an original welding joint, before being shipped to a Florentine foundry to be restored. A major aspect of the Triton Fountain upgrade that is overlooked by the general public is the installation of a new high-tech water system. Replacing the previous public toilets, a large plant room consisting of ten water pumps, water filters a control systems was built. The system automates and monitors the operation of the water treatment plant and of the waster features in conjunction with the architectural lighting.

until work was completed. The transition between the old and new design was critical as the bus service, taxis, horse carriages, ‘Hop-On Hop-Off ’ and services to third parties had to still operate. This coordination could only be done with constant communication with all involved entities. Underlying archaeology also proved a challenge. GHRC studied historical plans, photos, dug exploratory pits but still there was no certainty what could be uncovered during excavation. Archaeologist supervised all excavations and recoded all findings. Sometimes these findings clashed with our proposal causing urgent redesigns of services and sometimes layout of the proposed square. GHRC managed to incorporate these findings while maintaining the clean slope geometry and wheelchair accessibility of the square.

What were the major challenges you came across during the works on Triton Square?

The project also included the planting of indigenous trees around the square. What other greenery does the renovated Triton Square feature?

GHRC could not shut down or block off the square

Globally water scarcity will be a concern. We did not

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want to plant fifty new holm oak trees without tackling the water they would require to sustain them. Twenty underground reservoirs were purposefully built to harvest rainwater from the 10,000 meters squared piazza. In total, these reservoirs hold around 1,000 cubic metres of water, with an overflow to the reservoirs in the ditch which in turn will serve the needs of Ġnien Lapparelli. In major structural developments were made to Biskuttin area and in what way is it now better connected to the Triton Square? The Biskuttin area previously suffered from being surrounded on all four sides by roads. Apart from a few benches, one had to squeeze between double parked vehicles to visit Antonio Sciortino’s Kristu Re monument. It was nothing more than a glorified roundabout. GHRC realized that for Biskuttin to function as a pedestrianized area it had to be an integral part of the general public’s experience of entering Valletta. Only through several design options and constant collaboration with third parties, especially the Malta Public Transport Services, could the road system be redesigned to allow for the Biskuttin to be connect to the rest of the piazza. In fact, from the 20,000 metres squared footprint of the project, half consisted of the paved piazza while the rest consisted of road and bus terminus redesign. Today’s design acts as a drop off point for the bus service and is functioning as a stronger link between Valletta and the Mall in Floriana. We are

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Photo: Eric Geraldi

Photo: Eric Geraldi

pleased to see the general public is choosing to sit and use Biskuttin garden nowadays What other major projects is GHRC currently working on? GHRC has just completed and is soon opening the Valetta landfront ditch project, which will be known as Gnien Laparelli. It has been entrusted with the ERDF funded regeneration project of Valletta Marsamxett Area, where it is aiding in the renovation of Historic buildings social housing, public open spaces and seafront area. GHRC’s work also reaches outside Valletta with projects such as the regeneration of Kalkara waterfront, Floriana Mall garden and works on Senglea’s Entrance gate and belvedere.


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Through the Lense Interview with Brian Grech, Photographer How would you define your style? When I started out people recognised a ‘chiaro/scuro’ effect in my photos, which I feel is still my forte and has been fine-tuned over the years. Detail is also very important to me in every photo, whether it’s fashion, interiors, food or other inanimate objects. Why do you feel that “Art and photography can show beauty as well as educate?”

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he details captured in a plate, the perfectly timed snapshot of busy mundane life and the messages behind a still life image have earned Brian Grech a reputation as one of Malta’s best talents in the photographic industry. His bold and intriguing photographic vision is the result of a mixture of classic and contemporary styles, inspired by his surroundings and his frequent travels. His photographs are elegant, sophisticated and with a touch of timeless quality, highlighted by the perfection of imperfection and the beauty in every element that surrounds us. Brian Grech shared with us his love for photography, his photographic view of Malta, and his plans for the future.

I believe that exposing people to new things, or bringing their attention to something they wouldn’t look at twice helps to educate, to open people’s minds, to see things differently and possibly remove biases; sometimes triggering off a more philosophical understanding. If art can manage to touch the soul, it has achieved its aim.

What attracted you to photography? There was something in photography which captured my interest from a very young age. I was always fascinated by the fact that photography had the power to capture or create a moment and pass that emotion on to the viewer.

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In what way does visual imagery have more impact?

In what way is Malta an amazing place for a photographic shoot?

We are living in an era where the visual element narrates all, or most of the story. From a commercial point of view, it is the time where companies are investing most in their visual media, because they understand that this is a vital tool to pass on their message and portray their products and services.

I find that sunlight changes everything, and we are lucky to have plenty of that all year round. Some photographers prefer flat light, such as that found in cities like London, which tends to be mostly cloudy and overcast. I prefer strong light that’s full of energy.

Do we at times take photography for granted? Now more than ever, we live in an era of over-exposure to the medium. However, when a photo has something ‘special’ it still stands out.

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Are there any particular details you look for in a place or a face? I find beauty in imperfection. When things are too perfect they bore me. I also tend to prefer ‘alternative beauty’ and although the notion of beauty is quite universal, it makes people think or question their ‘safe beliefs’.


What makes people so interesting to photograph? For me it’s facial expressions, emotions in the eyes and body language. How does spring exalt your photographic lens? Spring brings everything back to life. Apart from the brighter light around, I tend to be better motivated and look forward to capturing more than I do in winter... I’m not a winter person at all... I find the winter months depressing even though these can have their own beauty. What’s next for Brian Grech? I’m hoping to find more time to endorse some personal photographic projects this year. This tends to be a challenge every year with my busy schedule, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

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Malta Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2019

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aleth / Haven / Port - Heterotopias of Evocation is the title of the selected curatorial project that will represent Malta at the next Biennale di Venezia in 2019. This is the fourth time Malta will participate at ‘La Biennale di Venezia’ following its participation in 2017 with an exhibition entitled, “Homo Melitensis: An incomplete inventory in 19 chapters,” in 1999 by means of a National Pavilion and in 1958 by means of a special exhibition of Maltese Artists. Maleth – at the centre of its theme, the project focuses on the role of the island as cultural centre of the Mediterranean Sea, both in history and in current times. The project invites the audience to reflect on their own lifetime journey of self-discovery, their own search for a personal Haven / Port. Drawing on the tri-fold of history / archaeology, myth / tradition and vision / expectation, the exhibit aims to create within the space of the Malta National Pavilion a topos / locus of artistic conversation for the whole of the Mediterranean Sea.

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The winning team is composed of Dr. Hesperia Iliadou Suppiej (lead curator), Vince Briffa (artist), Klitsa Antoniou (artist), Trevor Borg (artist) and Matthew Joseph Casha (architect / designer). The Malta Pavilion student outreach workshops is a collaboration between the Arts Council Malta and Bank of Valletta. It seeks to offer a platform through which contemporary artistic practices are understood within the broadest sense of the term can be exposed, contextualised and presented to an international audience. The four outreach workshops to be held both in Malta and abroad focus on four different aspects of the Malta Pavilion 2019 project. The three artist and curator have come up with a different workshop each reflecting their respective approach to this year project. Cave of Darkness – Port of No Return, An Educational Workshop for Primary School Students by Trevor Borg will be held at Ghar Dalam and is specifically aimed at primary


school students. Students will visit the cave and they will listen to a story by a professional animator related to the history of the cave. The story shall present factual information and it is intended to familiarise the students with the cave and the vast findings emerging from it. Students will then proceed to the dedicated educational area inside the museum and they will be briefed about the Biennale and about Trevor Borg’s work. The students will be encouraged to develop further stories and to re-imagine the history of the place: What would they like to see in the cave; The various animals that could have inhabited Malta at the time; The lifestyle of the people throughout the ages; The objects they made for themselves and to decorate their dwellings etc. Students will be encouraged to create objects with clay. A professional ceramist will show them how to work with clay and introduce them to a few basic skills. There will be teachers to help them out and to encourage them to think in a creative way. The idea is to add further layers of meaning to the already rich history of the cave and the valley. The starting point will be the cave itself; however, the intended overall outcome is to fabricate different histories that could be juxtaposed with each other to generate a more colourful story pertaining to such important historic site. Being Calypso - Being Ulysses is a series of workshop for sixth form students by Vince Briffa focusing on OUTLAND, the film installation by Vince Briffa for the 58th edition of the Venice Art Biennale and its relevance to (teenage) manifestation of obsessive love and desire as a starting point for discussion. The workshops will follow an introspective methodology as a process of art-making. Introspection (in Psychology) is both an informal reflection process and a formal experimental approach, but either process can be undertaken by anyone with curiosity and determination (Cherry, 2016). Similarly, in art making, the interweaving of experimentation and the process of reflection in order to inform and renegotiate the same process, form the very basis of reflective practice. Students attending the workshops will be directed

to adopt a self-reflexive and introspective method by looking inward instead of outward, and addressing an issue or concern of a personal nature relating to their own character or that of a loved one or close friend. Students will be encouraged to use Drawing as an introspective tool in the first phase of the project in order to create works that sit in between the visual and the verbal, between art and thinking. Further work inspired by the initial drawings will be developed using students’ media of choice. Bridges of Atlantropa is Workshop Organized by Klitsa Antoniou for First Year Art Students of the Fine Arts Department of the Cyprus University of Technology. Atlantropa was a gigantic engineering and colonization idea devised by the German architect Herman Sorgel in the 1920s. His project proposed to partially drain the Mediterranean forming a European supercontinent. Today, more than ever, the Atlantropa scheme (of forming land bridges in the Mediterranean) seems relevant as it is suddenly fortified by contemporary intensity to remind us of the limits on freedom (migrants and refugees) and the destiny of the inhabitants of this area (surviving amid military, political, economic, social complexities / contrasts, migrations and fluid topographies of rejected, forgotten, unseen and silent memories). Klitsa Antoniou’s project Atlantropa-X in the context of the Malta Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, will aim to conceptually and artistically join the two islands of the Mediterranean, Malta and Cyprus, by offering glimpses on the utopian drives and the dystopian fallouts that characterize the Mediterranean area.

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Following an introduction on Atlantropa scheme and its intentions, First Year Art Students of the Fine Arts Department of the Cyprus University of Technology will be given the hypothesis that they have to build a bridge / land crossing on the sea. They will first conduct a research using drawings and small constructions with various materials. The final project can be of any material but will have two limitations: Length should be 100cm to 200cm, and the construction should float on water. Besides the learning outcomes of sculpture building the aim of the workshop is to guide students to reflect on the limitations of movement imposed on refugees and migrants.

lead from discovering the Maltese Pavilion into different discovery journeys in the city where the workshops will take place; from grand museum spaces, to little private museum collection spaces and the private gardens in the city, opening on purpose to welcome the Maltese Pavilion and the young workshop participants.

Stories of Beyond - Exploring Maleth in Venice is a creative workshop for young children by curator Hesperia Iliadou which will be held at the Querini Stampalia Museum Children Space, House Gardens, Arzana Boat Museum, in Venice, throughout the duration of the Art Biennale 2019. The workshops will focus on Maleth / Haven / Port - Heterotopias of Evocation and the curatorial narrative of the Malta Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale of 2019. Their aim will be to introduce younger children to the Maltese Pavilion and the notion of what a Biennale Pavilion might be. The young children will be lead in discovering the different stories hidden within the narrative of the Malta Pavilion but also explore fairy tales that refer to life-journeys and may have inspired the curator in the creation of the Pavilion. At the same time as the workshops will be held in different spaces of interest in Venice that are usually not open to the public, the children will be

In the same way, the children will be invited to draw or construct images inspired by these stories engaging their imagination and evolving their creative skills using different mediums and processes; colour, paper cutting and folding, model making.

Using a pool of researched stories, traditional legends and fairy tales coming from Malta, Cyprus and Italy, the young children will participate in a series of creative storytelling workshops, where the stories will be read out loud in small groups, acted by the children (dress-up and costume play) and performed (using traditional Venetian puppets).

A participatory and engaging pedagogic method of involving young children in learning using creative methods as theatreplay and art creation will be applied. The workshops will be based on the Kolb model of experiential learning in museums and galleries, which involves the notions of concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. The Malta Pavilion is commissioned by Arts Council Malta, under the auspices of Malta’s Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Government.


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Music in their Veins

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An Interview with ‘The Travellers’

hat brings together a graphic designer, a drummer, a restoration and conservation specialist, a medical student, a physics teacher and an EU agency employee? The answer has to be music. As once noted by the American singer, songwriter, activist, and humanitarian, John Denver; “Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what colour we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.” This happens to be the underlying foundation of the leading local band, The Travellers. Indeed all members of the Gozitan band have a passion for music. Yet that is not all. They all share a common goal of trying to create something different in an already diversified local music scene. We met up with The Travellers on a windy Monday evening in their studios, which are situated in the very heart of Il-Handaq Industrial Estate. After walking by several dark and gloomy garages of sprayers, panel beaters and mechanics, we came across a door beyond which we were greeted by several members of the band. They were not all present, some were absent due to studies, whilst others were still stuck at work. For many members of the band, music is not their full-time job but rather a

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passion to which they have committed, notwithstanding the hours and other personal constraints. One of which is the frequent travelling to and from Gozo to Malta. Their regular travelling has been a source of inspiration to their name, The Travellers. They got together in 2013. Bassist Clayton, trumpeter Joseph, main vocalist Chris and guitarist Andrew have been in the music scene from a very young age. Saxophonist Sylvano and drummer Michael joined the rest of the band later in 2013, and thus The Travellers was born. Over the past years, the band has been working on a mix of contemporary music incorporating brass and Maltese lyrics, with the band experimenting on how the melody would sound when combined with the Maltese language on contemporary rhythms. Their debut single ‘Semplicità’ was a success, and was followed by other singles which topped the local charts, ‘Dak li Int’, ‘Xemx u Xita’ and ‘Hafi Paci Kuluri’. The band also issued two albums; ‘Xemx U Xita’(EP) in 2016 and ‘Iljuni Fis-Silg’ (Full Album) in 2018. The Travellers’ decision to produce songs in Maltese has sparked a debate in Malta on the lack of songs in Maltese. Over the past few years, commercially-successful songs have mostly been in English, with very few songs in Maltese making it to local airwaves and even fewer actually topping


the charts. We ask the band what encouraged them to opt for their mother tongue. “While working on new material for our EP, we often found ourselves shifting to writing in Maltese and after some deliberation, we decided to focus solely on writing Maltese songs.” They clarify that, “We just wanted to produce something different in an alreadydiverse music scene, although at the time we had no idea we would end up producing songs in Maltese. Our niche turned out to be in our mother language!” Andrew adds, “We believe that feelings are transmitted better when you hear songs in your native tongue.” Writing songs in Maltese does not come without any challenges. Andrew points out, “The hardest aspect about writing lyrics in Maltese is finding a way to make the lyrics sound fresh. Yet what comes without a challenge?” The language is not the only hurdle the band has to face on a day-to-day basis. There are also financial, personal and operational challenges. Their friends and loved ones have at times also questioned whether their efforts are worth the time. Yet their bond is stronger than the challenges they face, and in hindsight, their efforts are slowly giving the desired results. They note, “It’s a question of perseverance, good time management and being target oriented. If your goals are clear and the foundations are based on a strong friendship, any challenge can be overcome. At times it turns frustrating and you question whether it will work in the long term, but today we feel our efforts paid off.” They point out that one of the major challenges is financial constraints. Yet they insist that luckily today there are government funds available, which ease the

financial pressure. They refer to the newly-redesigned Malta Arts Fund, which offers research support, project support and also a Multi-Annual Grant. Such funds have been very helpful. They clarify that funds are there to be used. It all depends on the individual or entity to look for them and benefit from them. We also ask the band whether they feel there is a better appreciation towards local bands. They note that it is a fact that Maltese people listen more to foreign music. Yet, the fact that today their songs are being heard on all radio stations is certainly a break through. “Is that enough? Certainly not, but it is a good start which lays a stable foundation on which we can develop further.” One clear action they point at is the need to create a culture which appreciates local music. They insist that this culture has to start at school level where children should be exposed to pop music and other genres. “We should present music not as a boring subject but rather as fun and in line with what contemporary music offers. They admit that progress has been made and the fact that several schools have contacted them to use their work, including a school in Sicily, is certainly a sign that things are changing. It is time for us to conclude our interview with The Travellers and return back into the cold, yet before calling it a day, we ask the band a final question on what we should expect from them in the months to come. “We have come a long way at a pace we never expected. We have certainly laid a solid foundation on which we plan to grow further. We are working on several projects which will be launched later on this year. As Frank Sinatra once noted, ‘the best is yet to come’.”

Photo: Tonio Lombardi

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Ala` Hamameh’s Complex & Extraordinary Artworks. artistry, including; painting, photography, graphic design, installations and video art. However, with the outburst of the revolution, he started to paint on canvas as other media became severely prohibited.

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n endless scream of a man holding his injured child dazed in dust, as immortalised in this very influential artwork, uncovering horrifying scenes from one of the bloodiest presentday conflicts. 7 years later, while attending an art exhibition in Berlin, I finally succeeded in meeting with Ala` Hamameh and discovered many untold stories as depicted through his “Suitcase Memory”. A suitcase carrying horrifying memories, bringing to a tragic end the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrian people, while displacing some other millions. Our conversation started when Ala` began to explain how as a child he felt so captive in a dream of vibrant colours. While observing his paintings, it became very clear to me that this fascination for colour held a promise of a very unique gift, which he continued to explore and develop while reading for a bachelor’s degree in Visual Communications at Damascus University. It was here that he understood how colour can be so powerful in voicing any reality we may try to deny. A harsh reality, which in Syria, was voiced and ruled by an oppressive regime. A reality, which some abided by, and which others refused to succumb to. Ala` continued working on developing a solid identity of his self-expression, showcasing rich and varied

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It was this technique that helped him shape the very essence of his vision, and here is where his colours became the ‘luck of violence’! His canvasses acquired bright harsh colours, which in some sense equivocated and deceived the ruthless scenes, but which in turn reflected fearlessly the ugly coloured face and viciousness of war. At the same time when the war started to reach its climax, he was invited by the Cultural Centre of Berlin to present his project “Dialog Tables” at a press conference, with the scope of discussing the concept of dialogue, and its meaning in the context of socio-political unrest. Since then, he decided to remain in Berlin. Artwork & style His exhibit appears to me as a complex poem of terror, pain and death, and while I struggle to understand through the intricacy of the colourful layers, Ala` smiles, and explains to me that he only manages to accomplish such results by completely rejecting immediate perception as inflicted in his memory, while building on more complex psychic structures. He develops this by focusing on a drastic use of altered hues that separate colour from its usual representational and realistic role. His “Dialog Tables” series is an example of this radical approach, where his scenes are worked in bold clashing colours, executed through unrelenting brushwork. In this way he gives a new emotional meaning to the colours, bringing to life scenes beyond belief! Through this set of artwork runs a powerful, yet disconnected dark line. This line assists him in clarifying his ideas, dividing the intense colour planes, while containing a constructive power of terror. So distinctively, he is also able to reconcile the contrast


between the vivid colours and the ‘frenzied’ character of his subjects. As apparent through their nervous gestures and restless movements, these figures play a very important role by marking a link of tension through the whole series. Though their eyes are openwide, their faces are featureless, as they are in the face of war. Prisoners of faith, or terrorised mothers. They all play their role in Ala`s creative atmosphere of moral repression. “My characters have had no clear features until now. They are still trying to symbolize the Syrian scene, sometimes, through heavy armoured vehicles or figures resting on “Dialog Tables” and stuffing their pockets and suitcases with what has remained of the memories of each displaced person, emigrant, or refugee.” With his project, “A Suitcase Memory” 2017 - 2018 Ala` seeks new methods and means to communicate with various audiences. A project, which developed from the pain and the psychological trauma he experienced during such a large-scaled disaster. I witnessed such memories for the very first time while his video-art was being showcased at the Muza Museum of Art in Valletta, following exhibitions in Paris, Dusseldorf, Geneva, Frankfurt, Montpellier and Istanbul. A collection of scripts, sketches, paintings, and installation, as well as this exceptional video-art, reflecting a personal expression of emotional angst, again uttered through an intense mixture of colours! However, this was not sufficient to bring these memories back to life, some of which were very predictable. In his paintings, he tried to utilise various different visual elements. A scattered inclusion of people’s personal photos brings real-life stories to the forefront, creating an unpredictable collective memory of such people’s fight for freedom and justice. When I asked him about the very first idea behind this Suitcase Memory, Ala`

described it as a very personal memory. When he left from Damascus, with only his suitcase, he also had to leave everything and everyone behind. Upcoming Project: 2019 While being so far away from home, he became aware that his biggest fear was forgetting! Talking about memory after seven years of war, did not only become an essential part of his work, but developed into an approach towards a fertility of impact and a future of influence. While he regards his previous project “A Suitcase Memory” as his personal navigator, that gave him the coordinates of his new geographical position, and helped him maintain his balance on the new soil of this war free home, for his next project, Ala` resists forgetfulness by reviving his fears once again. In need of delicate, explicit and strong memory, he also requires to recall more sensible senses, such as a voice, and its echoes. He explains to me that the voice is an essential constituent of shape and its spirit. Through its capacity, the faces, names and places, could be recalled even when they do not exist anymore! “Memory is the ailment of truth, and the nightmare of tyrants. Who owns it knows exactly how to recall anger, even after the disappearance of the victim, and even after the revolution ends.”

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Backpacking Southeast Asia

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Interview with David Vella on his Food Journey across Southeast Asia, Chef

ess than a year ago, Chef David Vella took the bold decision to leave his culinary profession and embark on a one way ticket journey across Southeast Asia. His decision raised many eyebrows and concerns among his family and friends. Yet, this was a journey he mulled over many months before and was determined to experience it alone. Over the past months David walked through the busy streets and remote areas of amazing countries including Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand; breathing in the warm, sticky air tinted with the scent of food spices, car exhaust, and opportunities that each corner of the region offers.

VIDA caught up with David in Australia where he has settled down for the time being, to discuss with him his experience with so many cultures, religions, food and above all, the essence of what makes Southeast Asia a must-try destination. How did it all start? It all started when I was young and got a summer job as a waiter to make some pocket money. One day I had the chance to work a shift in the kitchen because we were short of staff. This experience triggered my passion for food and my hunger to learn. How would you define your approach in the kitchen? I like to say it’s somehow very Mediterranean influenced but with a French approach since a lot of my training was in classic French cuisine. I say this because even though I’m trained in French cuisine, I prefer to keep my dishes light and fresh. Last year you decided to book a one way ticket to Asia. What encouraged you to take such a bold decision? Various reasons to be honest. The main reason is I believe that you have to stop and take a break once in a while, to try new things, to learn as much as possible about anything in life and find new inspirations from other cultures and ways of thinking.

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How has such a journey enriched you from a gastronomic point of view? Asia is somehow special in its gastronomy, even though fine dining isn’t common everywhere. The ingredients they have available are amazing due to their exotic climates with warm weather and wet seasons. Their fruits and vegetables, although sometimes strange, are very flavourful. The spice combinations they use and the fact they use every little thing from any plant or animal, is something that is sometimes forgotten in the western world. For anyone who loves food, Asia is the perfect destination. It’s cheap, cheerful and flavourful. Do you find any similarities between Western cuisine and Asian cuisine? It’s hard to say at this stage, as Asia is becoming increasingly influenced by the western world. You see a lot of western businesses that manage to merge both cuisines and create a good product. But in a nut shell, I’d say that Asian cuisine as it was before, would have been very different from our western cuisine. However, I believe that back in the old days, where Europeans still dried fish and vegetables in the sun and cooked more on open fires, there might have been similarities in the methods used for cooking and preserving food. What was the strangest food experience you came across? Some of the strange food I experienced myself were bugs, like crickets and lake water bugs, tarantulas and silk worms; which, to my surprise, the silk worms and crickets make for a very nice snack. Crocodile eggs are something else I tried and chicken feet are commonly used for stews there. Furthermore, they also have a few kinds of jellyfish that are edible. You have now settled in Australia. How come? Australia provides good opportunities for chefs, even though people here don’t have an old and well established food culture. It is something that’s still evolving. People afford to go out on a regular basis for lunch or dinner so new places are always opening, opportunities throughout the country are endless and it’s easy to communicate because it’s an English speaking country. The produce is amazing, especially when it

comes to fish. Fish grows differently here. They are much more meaty and robust as they’re always swimming in open oceans with a lot of currents, and they are always on the run from predators. Furthermore, wild ingredients are infinite with such a vast land. Would you recommend such an experience to others? I think in a world like gastronomy, where everything is evolving all time, if one has good knowledge and training in classical cooking, the next step should be to travel and work in as many different cultures as possible. The more new things you know, taste and come across with, the more you can express yourself in your cooking. So yes, I would suggest that everyone should leave his comfort zone and go out to explore other cultures. To what extent is an open mind necessary for such an adventure? Well, an open mind is necessary to do something like this. The cultures one comes across are completely different than what we are used to. One has to keep in mind that you are in a completely different mind set than that at home. Religion is different, beliefs are different and one must always respect that and the land one’s in. You are there to visit, see, teach and learn, not to change what they know or do. What are your plans for the future? What’s next is not clear at this time. I have some commitments here in Australia since I’m a head chef in a restaurant just outside of Sydney which I cannot leave just yet. But, I am certain that my travelling and will to discover new cultures and taste new, unknown flavours from different countries, will continue.

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Distributed by: Fruitland Co. Ltd., Pitkali Road, Attard ATD2214 email: info@fruitland.company mobile: 7980 8040


Whiskey Honey Tossed Walnuts 175g honey

56g granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

173g walnut halves Diamond of California®

60ml whisky

METHOD 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 2. In a medium saucepan, stir together honey, granulated sugar, Irish whiskey and salt. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a slow boil. 3. Add walnut halves. Stir to coat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring, until syrup begins to bubble up and turn a light brown in color. 4. Remove from heat and drain liquid through a strainer.

Chocolate Walnut Pie 50g butter

160ml dark corn syrup

180g bittersweet chocolate chips, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

40g brown sugar

173g walnut halves Diamond of California®

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

METHOD 1. Position rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Stir the butter and 70g of chocolate chips into a heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool until warm. 2. Beat the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl until blended. Whisk in the butter mixture. Stir in the walnut pieces and the remaining 110g of chocolate chips.

3. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake until filling is set and crust is golden brown, for about 45 minutes. Cool. (Pie can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover loosely and keep at room temperature.)

5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place coated walnuts onto parchment paper in a single layer, separating as much as possible. 6. Place in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes (watch closely so they don't burn). 7. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 8. Once cooled, separate walnuts from each other and use to top a salad, stir into yogurt or as a tasty snack.


FRUITLAND Co. Ltd. specialises in the importation of the best Bananas on the islands, as well as exotic and seasonal fruits from all over the world, all year round.

Fruitland Co. Ltd, . Pitkali Road, Attard, ATD2214 Email: info@fruitland.company Mobile: 7980 8040

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Childhood Obesity. A Global Epidemic.

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Interview with Dr. Malcom Paul Galea

bese children are no rare sight today and our tiny island is no exception to this. Although we all have heard that Malta scored first in the rate of childhood obesity in Europe, it is still the United States which holds the highest rate of this problem globally. The problem is also affecting developing countries especially within an urban setting and the figures are phenomenal! In 2010, the number of overweight children under the age of five was estimated to be over 42 million around the world. It is a fact that overweight and obese children are likely adulthood. Apart from physical problems, childhood obesity has been closely associated with problems in the social and emotional well-being of the child and poor self-esteem. In an effort to protect themselves from a general negative attitude and bullying, obese children tend to stay away from their peers and seek the protection of their homes. By confining themselves, they will not only detach themselves from society and be more solitary, but they will also tend to find comfort in eating more, hence increasing the problem even further. This will also lead to poor academic performance and a lower quality of life, hence the importance of dealing with such a problem now. Is it solely related to food? Childhood obesity is not only a result of excessive fatty food. It has been proven that very high sugary intake like soft drinks, an increase in porion size and lack of phyiscal activity also play a pivotal role in this. Genetic background is also important in determining obesity risk. However, this accounts for only about 5% of cases, thus rendering this factor much less important than we think. Parental help also plays a very important role. It is imperative for children to be given a choice and to then help them make this choice by giving them a health-oriented rationale. Not surprisingly, regular consumption of fast food has been linked with weight gain in multiple studies! Our culture has also promoted obesity over the years. Nowadays, food is linked to socializing and reward, thus, maybe unknowingly, we

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to stay obese in are letting our children develop an unhealthy relationship with food. What are the medical consequences? There are a lot of medical conditions which have been linked to obesity in childhood. Among these are: Type 2 Diabetes, Gallstones, Fatty Liver, Menstrual Problems, Skin Conditions and Orthopaedic Problems. Although these problems are normally seen in adulthood, obesity is often the cause when these conditions are present in children. Most of these conditions do improve when the child loses weight, but some of them persist into adulthood. What should we do? As a society, we should aim to address this well-known community problem. By combining an adequate diet and promoting physical activity at school and within the community, we would be most effective in decreasing the rate at which this problem is growing. Parents have a pivotal role and they are obliged to enforce a healthier lifestyle at home. We should teach our children to choose healthier food options. This in turn would eventually lead them to choose healthier options at school and in restaurants. Enrolling our children in sports activities instead of screen time is of utmost importance in our efforts to fight this ever growing epidemic. We are responsible for generations yet to come to not only provide them with a healthier world to live in, but a healthier lifestyle to live!


A Touch of Blush

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Interview with Leanne Mallia, Makeup Artist

here is something striking in the work of makeup artist Leanne Mallia, which has earned her a reputation as one of Malta’s rising stars in the industry . Leanne is young, talented and with a hunger to succeed. Her magical touch has a unique way to create that ‘wow factor’ that accentuates the beauty in every client who seeks her service. Her aesthetic is one that embraces the bold, yet never at the expense of her clients’ natural features. VIDA recently met up with Leanne Mallia to discuss what triggered her interest in the makeup industry, the challenges the profession offers, recent trends and her plans for the future. What lies behind an ACCA graduate’s shift towards the world of makeup and beauty? I get asked this question a lot and I can understand why. Having an accounting background whilst also fulfilling a career in the world of makeup and beauty, don’t usually go hand in hand.

I always wanted to work in an office, and that is the career path I pursued at age 17 when I decided to further my studies by choosing ACCA, whilst also working full-time at a professional service company. On the other hand, makeup was always my passion. I always loved makeup and the way it can enhance and boost confidence. I started juggling my career as a professional accountant whilst also working part-time as a makeup artist. The road wasn’t always easy but I found a sense of satisfaction knowing I was juggling both careers at once. About a year ago, a tragic event happened in my life where I realised life is too short to juggle two careers at once whilst also trying to keep up with my family, social life and friends. It was all getting too much to deal with, so I took the frightening (at the time) decision to pursue my dreams and work as a makeup artist. What is your definition of beauty? In my opinion, beauty comes from the inside. It’s all about having a good character, being compassionate and having a gentle and kind heart.

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How would you define makeup? Makeup, to me, is the tool that enhances confidence. What do you think are the basics in a makeup bag? I would always suggest having the following in your makeup bag; A good moisturiser to prepare the skin for makeup, full-coverage concealer to conceal dark circles or marks on the face, an eyebrow pencil, mascara and lip balm. Eventually you can start building on the basics to create different makeup looks.

Francois Nars once noted, “Makeup is about balance. When the eye makes a statement, the lips should be quiet.” To what extent do you agree? I believe makeup is all about preference. Some people like to make a statement with the eye makeup and keep the lips on a neutral palette, whilst others prefer keeping the eye makeup neutral and having a bold lip colour. Then there are those people, who like myself, love to experiment with glitter and bold colours. What are the current trends?

Do you have any ‘go-to’ signature looks that work every time or do you prefer to experiment to see what’s best?

Currently glossy looks are back - after years of matte liquid lipstick, the tides are turning and it’s time for lip gloss to shine again!

I love experimenting with different makeup looks, new products on the market and new trends. However, there is no denying that I do have my ‘go-to’ looks which never fail me when I’m working on a client and there isn’t much time to get ready. They are classic looks which are always in style and always include winged liner and a bold lip colour.

What’s next on your agenda? I’m currently working on a number of exciting things, but my main focus is to finalise all works on my salon which I will be using to provide makeup services to my clients, personal makeup courses (in small groups) and individual makeup lessons.

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