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Malta through of people

the eyes

Summer Edition | Issue 110

www.vida.com.mt


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Editorial Note

W

ith the first signs of summer, the island morphs itself into a colourful and busy place packed with activities at the beach side (sandy or rocky, take your pick), in the country’s wild nightlife and also in every town or village.

Indeed, summer is that time of the year when the country comes to life thanks to a busy agenda of events which range from the traditional village religious feasts up to large scale events such as the Isle of MTV and Tomorrowland. Irrespective of the scale of any event, it brings colour and vibe into each and one of us making summer such a special time of the year in Malta. Summer is also that time of the year where local fashion and interior designers, artists and photographers are inspired to create amazing work which conveys why Malta is such a beautiful island to live in.

our

,

Once again, Vida looks at this season from the eyes of various people who together form Malta’s society. Celebrities and common people come together to share with us their own stories and their experience of summer.

I wish you all a happy summer and a pleasant read.

20 Editor: Hermann Mallia - editor@vida.mt

Design & Proof reading: FKL Team

Summer Edition

Front Image: Courtesy of Gaia & Nina

Photos: We thank all contributors for providing photos and images

No part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form without prior consent from FKL Ltd. While we make every effort to ensure that the content of VIDA is correct, we cannot take any responsibility nor be held accountable for any factual errors printed.


INDEX A Pop Queen

Art of street decoration

6

24

38

The Hidden life in Sri Lanka

14

The Village Festa

28

A Designer’s Perspective

Il-ħobża Maltija

58

Ways to improve your eating

46

20

A hobby that has been passed down through several generations

The Artist in the Architect

Malta at the Venice biennale

62

When the Traditional meets the cutting edge...

34

52


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A

Pop QUEEN Interview with IRA LOSCO

S

mart, talented, attractive and with a unique voice which earned Ira Losco a reputation as one of the best talents Malta has ever produced over the past decades. A true

pop queen whose skills are widely acknowledged in Malta and abroad with more than 20 music awards and having performed in over 20 countries along the likes of Sir Elton John, Maroon 5, Akon, Enrique Iglesias and Ronan Keating. Yet Ira is not only about music. She has often voiced her views on hot issues including bullying, feminism and also immigration.

B

usy juggling several tasks Ira talks about what attracted her to the world of music. “My mother always says I sang before I could talk. I’ve always loved music.” At school she was a bit of a nerd, she wasn’t athletic at all, always preferred sitting at her piano. Music seemed to be her escape. “I felt like I didn’t really fit in, during my teenage years, so music helped me find an identity and it gave me refuge.” She also adds,

“the first time I got the taste of being on stage, I couldn’t get enough. I guess I then wanted music to be part of my life forever even more so when I started writing my own songs at age 11. I was ecstatic when I joined a band at age 15 and could write lyrics and melodies with my band mates. When I met Howard, my manager, producer and co-songwriter, post my near Eurovision win, he encouraged me to write again, I was hooked!”

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She talks further about her experience with music. “I grew up listening to 80s pop and the classics; Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Queen, David Bowie. As a teenager I listened to alternative music; Portishead, Blur, Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, Björk... that taught me to take the unpredictable route when writing.” Ira notes that her exposure to pop enticed her to write songs that people could relate to. I recently read about her fondness for John Lennon. Ira notes that he was a music genius and formed part of the most famous music group to date. “He truly encompasses the qualities of a brilliant song writer and manages to make something deep and dark, very relatable to the widespread audience. Also from interviews I’ve seen he comes across as extremely interesting, sharp, he also seems to have a witty sense of humour.” Her agenda is packed with both professional and personal commitments. I ask Ira how does a celebrity find a proper balance between work and a personal life? She quickly points out “It starts off with accepting what you want out of life. Anyone who wants to do music has to accept that they are in the entertainment industry. Irrespective to how artistic and reserved one might feel ultimately the craft is exposed to the general public and that means it will be judged.” She adds that “we all need a level of privacy but it’s up to the individual to draw the line. Everything is about balance. Even songs in an album need to balance out. The band on stage and their dynamic need to balance out so why shouldn’t work in personal life? I’m a firm believer in hard work and I also love my family time.” We touch on her experience as a judge on the first edition of X Factor Malta. She notes that it was exciting to discover such a lot of talent which probably wouldn’t have ever come to light because of a variety of reasons. “The X Factor has given the opportunity to artists who might have

never had the opportunity to step into a recording studio or onto a stage. It also gave opportunity to artists who had been misled or misguided. I absolutely loved mentoring my category. I got to suggest repertoire I might never have chosen for myself, I had a vision for my three boys and I also loved preparing them for the stage. I am humbled by their trust and respect.” I ask Ira whether she feels X Factor can really be a life changing experience for some. She quickly notes that life changing is a big word. “It depends what this means to the individual. I’ve had my own personal X FACTOR experience not on the show itself but when I started taking this seriously after the 7th Wonder days I was told things that no one ever told me. They were harsh but they were professional. It was ultimately up to me what I wanted to do with that professional advice.”

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I recently read Ira firmly believe that the longevity of those who want to thrive in the arts scene depends on what you term as USP - their unique selling point. Ira points out that she truly believes that to safeguard the longevity one stands a better chance with identifying the USP. “It has to be real because if it’s real it lasts. If it’s put on, thought or imposed it simply will not last. Every

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artist at one point in time looks in the mirror and asks who am I? What am I trying to say with my art and is it coming across well? Not everyone manages to find the right path but that’s mainly because the questions asked are not the right ones. Every artist surely believes they have something deep down which makes them different and drives them to push their craft further.”


and till this very day.” She is happy that many have come to realize that it is not a one size fits all. Many have also adapted to changes in the world and really engage in promoting and being hands on in securing gender equality in the workplace and in the home. Nevertheless, Ira notes “of course, there will always be times where there is evident gender disparity and I will be the first to talk openly regarding this and to stand up for what is right in this respect.” We also touch on immigration where she points out that “I truly believe that we are raising a generation with very little empathy. Unfortunately we live during a time where the younger generation is so self-absorbed that they cannot comprehend caring or putting themselves in anyone else’s shoes.” Ira notes that social media has taken over their lives and approval from their peers is more important than having a conscience.

We shift our conversation on Ira’s views on key social issues. One major topic at heart is certainly gender equality. She notes, “Unfortunately there will always be those who do aren’t interested to find out about things which are different to their perception of the “norm.” Worse still there are those who are stuck in their ways and hold onto the stereotypes society has imposed years before

It is inevitable for me to discuss with Ira her point of view on social media. “The most thing I love about social media is that I get to be in close contact with my followers. The thing I hate most is that it’s ever changing and adapting takes time, also the fact that sometimes some hateful comments can get to people. I can handle it today because I’ve developed a tough skin but it’s just horrible to see how some people find no shame in being so hateful.” It is time to conclude and without further ado, I ask Ira on her future projects. She notes that quite a lot is going on and her current focus is on her summer concerts and other music projects.

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The Village

FESTA

S

ummer months in Malta are not only characterised by the heat but also by the feasts which are celebrated in various towns and villages in Malta and Gozo nearly every weekend. The

village feast is considered as the most important annual event of the village. One can say that the rythym and the programme of the village focuses on the festa.

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Fr Joseph Mizzi

Initially it was the church who actually gave rise to the village festa. All parish churches are dedicated to a particular saint. The church started to celebrate the feast of the saint on its liturgical calendar day with a solemn high mass, vespers and a procession. Originally the procession through the streets of the village started with a relic of the saint and then when the economic situation of the village residents improved, a need for a statue of the saint ensued.

Eventually a small band was commissioned and other people took the initiative to work and exhibit some pyrotechnics which gradually developed in an artistic array of colours. This fantastic display improves every year giving great satisfaction and pride to dedicated and hard working people. In mentioning this, one should always be considerate and keep in mind the sick and the elderly of the village with regards to excessive noise. So what started as a very modest religious feast gradually grew and reached professional high levels. For this reason churches were more expensively and extensively decorated, fraternities and associations were encouraged, band clubs were established and fireworks factories were developed. Nowadays feasts include a mixture of religious, cultural, historical and folklor characteristics. Preparation for village feasts involve a lot of time, energy, effort, money and people. They also generate commerce among food and drink vendors especially

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those selling the traditional seasonal sweet, the local nougat, known as ilqubbajt. People from all walks of life and different fields of expertise come together to collaborate for the success of the event, ‘which always has to be better than the previous year and if possible on a much larger scale than that of our next door neighbour’. The parish priest, the mayor of the town, the president of the band club, the music director, the president of the fireworks factory, the police inspector and all the other leaders have to pool together to ensure the success of the feast. Everyone has a role and a responsibility to shoulder. When all the involved stakeholders participate in a collaborative manner in this common aim, the feast will be a success for all to enjoy. The feast day is always time for the family to meet and most of the times to have lunch together. It is also time to socialise especially with those whom one has not seen for ages. It is the time to coordinate volunteers to carry out specific duties. In fact, months before the feast the organisers start the door to door collection for funds. In Maltese these collections are known as ir-rakkolta or l-arbural. Above all, one cannot concentrate only on exterior decorations and activities. Unfortunately, nowadays the focus is shifting to the traditional Sunday morning band march, known as il-marċ ta’ filghodu. In preparation for the feast, i.e. during the kwindicina

(15 days before the feast day), or the novena (9 days before) or the tridu (3 days before) the Church offers us ample food for thought in its sermons and panygerics to reflect on the significance and exemplary life of the titular saint. It would be a missed opportunity and a senseless celebration without delving into the lives of saints and discover the call we have for holiness. This reality invites parish priests to be innovative and creative in presenting the lives of saints in an appealing and relevant way to the congregation. Furthermore, in these celebrations the church offers to the community at large, a patrimony of sacred music and exhibit a number of silver items and artistic treasures which are unique to our country. This rich patrimony is an attraction for both tourists and locals, leaving visitors speechless at such awesome heritage. The village feast is an important yearly event, because it is time for celebration as a community to which we belong. The community encourages sharing, support, care and love for each other. Definitely it should not be the time for tension, pique and stress but time to be joyful and merry. Hence, it is very appropriate that during the village feast the community also thinks of marginalised members and offers them some assistance, whether monetary or in any other kind way to alleviate their needs. One hopes that village feasts will continue to foster peace, joy and serenity in our communities and also makes us more aware and appreciative of our patrimony left to us by our forefathers.

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A hobby that has been passed down through several generations From a very young age MICHAEL ATTARD’s passion was watching fireworks and the closer he was to them, the better. Michael’s hobby to manufacture fireworks was handed down from one generation to the next, as both his grandfather and father were keen enthusiasts. Michael considers himself as being new to the pyrotechnic fields and his first experience of setting up flares will always be a treasured memory. For him to see his work, after all the sacrifices, commitment and dedication, is one of the most beautiful and satisfying feelings in the world.

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Without a shadow of a doubt, the most challenging time of the year is before the village feast as he says that the month before always requires a great deal of work. As the feast gets closer, Michael ensures that what he has been working on throughout the year is ready on time. Michael always lends a helping hand where needed, but his focus is mainly on flares, especially the so called “games” and colourful ones. He continues to say that in this work there is no beginning or end. For him, the village feast of Żejtun will always be the one closest to his heart. Once this feast is over, he continues to work for other villages and begins to prepare for the coming year. Michael always tries to come up with innovative work and this year, together with others, participated and competed in the International Fireworks Festival. For him, even though it was a big challenge, it was a dream come true. Every year he tries to add something different from the previous years to the local feasts. This year, Michael will be introducing the element of colour in the flares and he is excited to see the result.

example, a warm sunny day will help the glue to settle faster so everything will dry up quicker. On the other hand, certain work cannot be done on a humid day. Fireworks during feasts offer a spectacular show full of colours, however there are still people who criticise the noise they make and suggest that these should be manufactured without sound. Although Michael agrees that exaggeration is bad, he does not agree that one should eliminate sound from fireworks. He states that if noise is eliminated from the fire rockets, one is destroying the skill and traditional element, and those who admire them, know that these kinds of fireworks are only made in Malta.

Another element that is catching on the firework tradition is the so-called ‘records’, for example making the ‘largest firework tower’. Michael said that he does not really agree with them and he fears that if people start competing for records, the element of fun will be lost.

Michael explains how the weather and humidity of the Maltese Islands can both hinder and help people who manufacture the fireworks. These elements work hand in hand in this field. In fact, if there is less sunshine during the year, there would be a backlog of work. He said that in this line of

When asked if this craft has a future, he said that the number of people working in this field is growing, especially since a lot of young people are getting involved. He sees this as a positive thing and thinks that this hobby will continue to be passed on down from one generation to the next. Michael feels that we should be very proud of the pyrotechnics as no there is no one in the world

work, you must adapt to weather conditions. For

that produces fireworks as spectacular as ours.

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Keeping alive the ART OF STREET DECORATION making

L

ike many other Mediterranean countries, village festas are a staple of Malta’s culture and traditions. Each locality in Malta has its own patron saint, and every summer, the whole town comes together to celebrate for one entire week. Every village feast involves a lot of work from dedicated people who voluntarily offer a helping hand to make sure every street is well decorated. Vida recently met Conrad Attard who works in the street decorations sector. Although Conrad does various works, he specialises in faux marble which is better known as “irħamar”.

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Conrad lives in Għaxaq, a place where the feast of St. Joseph forms an integral part of the village identity. From a very young age, he showed a keen interest in his family’s longstanding involvement in street decoration. He quickly points out that street decorations bring together his interest in arts and his passion for the village feast. He starts working on street decorations around October and keeps on going up to the end of August. Summer is usually his busiest time of the year since he is involved in many works for various feasts. He also points out that Easter is a time when he is quite busy.

Conrad’s major project to date goes back to 2014 when he finished a pedestal for his own village. Visibly emotional he notes that he formed part of the committee that came up with the idea of a new pedestal. “It is amazing how from a drawing the pedestal developed into a wooden structure which I had the honour to decorate.” This process took eight years to finish. He also proudly notes that the project made it to the finals of the “Premju ġieħ l-artiġjanat Malti 2014” A recurrent “complaint” about street decorations is that they create an inconvenience on pavements or other places. Conrad believes that most of the complaints are quite fair as in most of the village core streets it is almost impossible to use pavements during the feast . However, Conrad points out that most irrespective of such complaints, the pavements in the village core are not fit for wheelchair users, prams and pushchairs all year round. He notes that feast enthusiasts are today more aware of such problems and often try to avoid any unnecessary inconveniences. He admits that addressing such problems can turn out to be quite a challenge as poles and pedestals can also cause problems for car users as usually these might obstruct off-street parking. Conrad believes that a healthy balance needs to be found between the requirements of a village feast and the villagers’ needs.

Conrad explains that feasts are an important part of Maltese social and religious life. It gives us an identity as a nation. He goes on saying that feast decorations are a big part of this tradition as they are the main image of the feast. Street decorations involve a large number of crafts and unfortunately some are on the dying side of the story. This is due to a number of factors, most trades involved in the making of street decorations are not taught anywhere, for example Conrad had to learn marbling on his own, and most of the tradespersons that practice the trade are not very keen to give a tip and a helping hand. So protection of this tradition is of upmost importance both for the keeping of trades, and for the Maltese social, traditional and religious life.

Conrad points out that some of his works which date back to fifteen years ago are still in very good shape. However, street decorations require constant maintenance in view of the sun they are exposed to which negatively impinges on the paint and wood itself. Moreover, they require good storage during the year so as to avoid any possible damage. It is time to conclude and without further ado, we asked Conrad what projects he is currently working on. With a smile, he notes that any project takes more than a year to finish. Right now he is working on the first part of a new project and he is looking forward to finish in the coming years. In terms of ambitions, although marbling of feasts decorations gives him great satisfaction, lately he is studying water gliding and would like to further his studies in that sector.

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A Designer’s Perspective

Interview with

LUKE AZZOPARDI

After a quick look at the work of Luke Azzopardi you will definitely agree that he is a genius. His work is simply jaw dropping with such a unique skill to convey

the idea of timeless elegance and a sense of a researched and applied aesthetic in every piece he works on. Above all, his work seeks to push artisanal design

as a self-sustainable local industry through concept-based fashion that embraces

beauty, individuality and style. Luke Azzopardi recently shared with VIDA his love for the world of fashion, his sources of inspiration and his upcoming projects.

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What attracted you to the world of fashion? I was always interested in art, installation and sculpture; and therefore kinetic art pieces were of particular interest for me. Fashion offered me the opportunity to produce such artwork, in a context of well curated installation.

Tell us about your style? I always work on collections that are very contextderived and site specific. So my initial work is a study into the place the collection will be installed at. After that it is a process of trying to uncover visual links and aesthetic resonances between my sources. Through that, a new set of visuals is born which then defines each collection. It is therefore a process that is far more research-based.

What makes John Galliano the designer you admire most? John Galliano’s years at Dior were marked by a great sense of theatricality which is intrinsic to the presentation of fashion. In so many ways, Galliano constantly challenges pre-conceived notions of fashion and costume, often incorporating both in the creation of new exciting work. My background is also theatre, so this heightened sense of aestheticism obviously appeals to me - it is a language I am fluent in.

John Galliano once noted “maybe an artist with a small a.” In what way do you consider yourself an artist? A couturier’s job is that of being a sculptor using fabrics and an installation artist when it comes to the presentation of collections. Fashion design sits right between the decorative art and fine arts - and that is perhaps why designers like myself are also fashion artists.

You recently noted “I feel like gowns are meant to tell stories.” Can you elaborate? Couture is about inclusivity. It presents a world in which every woman’s story is relevant and important, no matter where they come from or how mundane the narrative is. It is precisely in elevating everyone’s story and translating it into a whimsical fantasy does couture become modern day story-telling.

In what way do friends, clients and models inspire you? My work involves a lot of collaboration. I’m constantly working with a large number of incredible artists, photographers, models and creatives - all of whom I have built close relationships with. Because of this I feel like they fully understand my vision and often are able to add more to it and refine it effectively. In so many ways my work becomes their work, and their work becomes mine. I’m not sure I fully believe in inspiration; the references used in my work often come from an exhaustive research process in which I feel like I am unearthing invisible threads between different sources and ideas.

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What do you find so fascinating about the High Victorian England? This was the period of great decadence, the time of Orientalism, exoticism, and Japonisme. In a way, high and late Victorian society was very modern in the sense that it tried to look towards other cultures (such as China) and other time periods (Medieval Europe), and filtered these ideas through technological advances in order to formulate their own identity. This bricolage technique is extremely modern and still present in post-modernity and contemporary culture.

In what way has the local fashion industry changed? A heightened cultural sensibility has ushered in a newly found respect for local fashion artists as well as the power and immediacy of fashion in rallying up masses.

Are people more fashion conscious? I think people have always been fashion conscious, but now audiences have become conscious of their own fashion consciousness. Becoming self-aware is the most difficult step in any cultural awakening. In so many ways, it feels like society is looking at itself in the mirror and recognising itself for the first time. The result is a new form of spectacle, one that seeks to break down all constructs of race and gender.

What’s next for Luke Azzopardi? Luke Azzopardi will be premiering at one of the big four fashion weeks this September whilst working on our first ready-to-wear collection to be released later on this year.

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The Artist

IN THE ARCHITECT

Interview with PROF. RICHARD ENGLAND

R 34

ichard England is certainly one of the

1991. In 1996 he was the winner of the International

best talents Malta has ever produced.

Prize at the III Architectural Biennale of Costa Rica

A master whose work has earned him

and in 2000 he was the recipient of the Gold Medal of

numerous

eleven

the Belgrade Architectural Triennale. In 2002 he was

International Academy of Architecture Awards and two

invited by the National Council of Culture and Art in

Commonwealth Association of Architects Regional

Mexico to deliver the key address at the Luis Barragan

awards. Others include the Gold Medal of the City

Memorial Symposium. He was also awarded the Grand

of Toulouse in 1985, the International Committee of

Prix of the International Academy of Architecture in

Architectural Critics Silver Medal in 1987, the 1988

2006 and 2015 and the 2012 International Academy of

Georgia, U.S.S.R. Biennale Laureate Prize and an

Architecture Annual Award. In 2016 he was one of the

IFRAA – AIA Award for Religious Architecture in

winners of the European Architectural Awards.

awards,

including


Prof. England’s interests go well beyond the realm of architecture. He is an accomplished artist, poet, sculptor, photographer and writer. His erudite knowledge of various literary texts is complemented with his life-long passion for the opera, in particular Italian tenors. Prof. England is what Conrad Thake defined “quintessentially a humanist, a modernday uomo universale in the Renaissance tradition, embracing a wide spectrum of interests and artistic pursuits.” Prof. England shared with VIDA his definition of architecture, his philosophy, his works and the recent

How

developments in local and international architecture.

philosophy?

would

you

describe

your

architectural

I learnt from what I saw. I absorbed the architecture What does architecture mean to you?

of the knights, the British overlay and also the temples.

My belief and quest is for an architecture which

I also required the intellectual overlay which I learnt

arises not only from utility, function and practicality,

whilst working with Joe Ponti. My architectural journey

but more so from the desire to sensualize and poeticise

was supported by mentors, by regular visits to key

the human condition. My creed is for an architecture

buildings and by deep study on how such structures

which provides a sensorial and magical experience, for

were built and designed.

as architects we are the makers of the environmental and ambient stage on which the drama of human life is enacted.”

Which is your favourite project? The next one.

A good building can change your life and a bad one, ruin it. The appearance of architecture is important, yet more important is how its spaces and ambiances

What makes a life worth living? It is a life spent doing what one loves.

affect us as users. Architecture is not only experienced visually, but more so holistically through all of our five

What is so special about the 1960s era?

senses in a haptic manner that extends our sensations

It was an amazing period that has never come back.

well beyond our retinal imagery. Spaces that we create

It was a decade where the future looked so good, so

that makes us better human beings or make us very sad

hopeful. It even impacted on Malta a little later - with

or very dull.

the emergence of people such as Emvin Cremona,

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Charles Camilleri, Fr Peter Serracino Inglott, Francis

in every town and village across Malta. Let us keep

Ebejer and Antoine Camilleri and the influx of people

in mind places like Dubai have no memory, we have

such as Pasmore and Desmond Morris. That was the

memory so our context is different.

most amazing period. Then it died and it never came again. Now, unfortunately, the future looks bleak.

What makes Maltese architecture stand out of the

Something has fizzled away. We live in an age when we

crowd?

know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Everything is measured in money.

If you look at the Maltese village, you can see the extraordinary character of island. The island offers a typical Mediterranean setting with its cube houses and

You recently pointed out; “I remember Malta as a

its language. It is a crossbreed which reflects the islands

virgin... which implies it is now a whore”. Can you

position as a bridge between the north and south divide.

elaborate?

Moreover, the island’s earth is stone, its foundations

People of my generation, feel very sad. We have lost

are stone and its walls of stone. Nevertheless, such

the plot. We are on a pathway to a black hole and it’s

character needs to be preserved otherwise the island

not going to change, because construction is a money-

risks turning soulless. Once u destroy the spirit and

making machine unless the bubble bursts, which I

quality of place you have nothing.

think it will. Meanwhile, people have money in their pockets and are not interested in what is happening at the top. We are not going to leave any heritage and legacy that is in any way equivalent to that left by our forefathers.

What legacy do you want to leave? What I’ve done I’ve done with honesty and passion but it is up to future generations to decide whether it is good or not.

There are places where you need to be humble and be a defender of the past. Architect has the responsibility to

What do you have in store for the future?

take care of the spirit of the place. We killed the spirit

There are quite a few things going on. Projects

of the place. The more Malta seeks to follow the global

keep you living and create a sense of eagerness to look

village concept, in future we risk losing the spirit found

forward for the next one. If you rest, you rust.

37


The hidden life in SRI

LANKA When the attacks took place in Sri Lanka, my wife Natalie, and I were in Jordan. We felt great sadness and could not believe what just happened. Sri Lanka is a country that has gone through 26 years of civil war when the Tamil Tigers decided to try to take over the north of the country to declare it as an independent state. The war ended in 2009 when the government defeated the rebels and regained control of the country.

38


Nowadays, it is a country inhabited by people coming from different cultures. It is quite common to find a Buddhist and Hindu temple, a mosque and a Catholic church, all while walking down the same street in one of the major cities. When we first visited the island, this gave us the impression that they were very able to live together as one.� Tonio likes to take his time when he travels. He has been to Sri Lanka more than once and although he’s a photographer by profession, the photos he takes during his travels are a means to document his journey and life in the countries he visits. For Tonio, Sri Lanka was an introduction to Asia. He continued to say that he prefers to spend time in the same spots in order to be able to absorb the culture and way of life of the locals.

39


Tonio visited Sri Lanka 3 times and even used the country as a base to explore other countries in Asia. Sri Lanka is an ecologically diverse island. In the south, it’s dry season in winter, while the north tends to be drier in the summer. The highlands towards the centre of the island are wet all year round and is lush with vegetation. They made many friends along their stays. Tonio has great admiration for this country, and although the cultural differences exist, harmony prevails and people are inherently happy. While in some parts there are predominant groups, people still seem to go about their lives in peace. Sri Lankans are very respectful and

40

spiritual people. Temples, mosques and churches are very heavily frequented. “We were shocked when we heard about the attacks. It was not something we expected.� Tonio was also shocked by the comments made by people on social media. He recalls the dismay of people at the lack of coverage of the attacks on social media compared to the demise of the Notre Dame in paris where no one was hurt. Some people attributed that to Sri Lanka being a third world country. He insists that Sri Lanka, like other countries in Asia, are developing countries. They are not classified as least developed countries and


economies are growing at a very fast rate. People are eager for opportunities. The Sri Lankan people have been through a lot, the war, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. People are just trying to rebuild their lives. These attacks are an unwanted surprise to all especially as the country gains momentum as a tourist destination. Tonio believes in balance and that any form of extremism is wrong, no matter how extreme it is. Covering the attacks in the media, helps to fuel extremism. Banning travel to countries affected by terrorism is effectively giving a helping hand to the terrorists.

From a photographers’ point of view, Tonio said that the first time he travelled to Sri Lanka he took two digital cameras. Before his second visit to Sri Lanka, Tonio was experimenting with analogue photography and he decided to experiment with shooting only film on his second visit. He took along two cameras: a Hasselblad 500c which he had just bought (a medium format camera manufactured in Sweden in the 60s and used professionally till this day) and a Nikon F3 which he borrowed from a friend. He shot predominantly on black and white Ilford and Fomapan film. He felt that the feeling of nostalgia he left with after his first visit would look good on black and white film. He also painstakingly developed around 15 rolls of black and white film himself. He explained that when you travel (especially when you’re visiting countries which host cultures which you are not accustomed to) you see the most beautiful things because they are new to you. You see things in a different way from the locals. That is a power to be harnessed as a photographer. He continues saying that Sri Lanka and countries with a similar climate are lush with vegetation. Among other photos, Tonio showed us photos of the Sigiriya rock, which is an ancient

41


rock fortress located close to Dambulla. He said that after pondering if they should walk up the 1200 steps to the temple and asking a few locals, they decided to climb another hill a few kilometers away to see the view of Sigirya rock from a distance. It was breathtaking! Tonio also spoke to us about the importance of tea within their culture. In fact, we learnt that Sri Lanka is one of the largest exporters in tea, which mostly grows in the wet highlands in central Sri Lanka which boasts vast fields of tea plantations. Tea is an integral part of Sri Lanka’s culture Many women find jobs as tea leave collectors which are then dried them to make tea. He also explained that Sri Lanka was once an English colony and it was originally known as ‘Ceylon’. Sri Lanka is also very well known for cinnamon which is endemic to the region. Cinnamon, along with a range of other spices and coconut milk are the basis of Sri Lankan curries which are mostly vegetarian dishes served with rice (which is also grown abundantly in the region). “We still use the homemade curry powder kindly given to use by the wife of a friend we made there. It’s unlike any other ground spice you find commercially and every time I open it I smell Sri Lanka”. It’s a joy to eat their tasty and colourful curry dishes with your hands like the locals. It’s also ok to use cutlery if you ask politely. Above all, Tonio remarks about the beauty of the respect that is shown towards nature. He recounted how once he was visiting a local family, and saw ants crawling over the kitchen cabinets. Not one person tried to kill or remove the ants. Nature in Sri Lanka and other Asian countries is so powerful and abundant that it is very difficult for man kind to win over it. Even with all the development going on in the country, it seems that nature always prevails and the people embrace it around their settlements and developments. It’s difficult not to experience it while you are there and he thinks that we have a lot to learn from this.

42

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of Mediterranean heritage

GĦANNEJJA


Il-œobÿa Maltija… a unique legacy of craftsmanship

M

altese bread or as it is more commonly known, il-ħobża Maltija, is a staple of our diet. No family can start and finish off a meal without a piece of

fresh local bread. We treasure it and of course, we firmly believe it is the best bread in the world. And yet, very few know and appreciate the work, the time and the dedication required every day to make sure we can enjoy

il-ħobża Maltija. For less than one Euro, we are offered the privilege to buy and hold in our hands a unique piece of craftsmanship. A heritage passed over from one generation to another which notwithstanding the stiff competition it faces on the market continues remains widely consumed and sought after by the local market.

46


Vida recently met, Nenu Debono, owner and chief executive officer of Maypole, who shared with us what attracted him to the industry, the history of bread making in Malta and how the profession of bread making has changed over the years. The young son of a third-generation baker, Nenu always knew and dreamt to follow in his family’s footsteps. His fascination, enthusiasm and passion for bread making paid off with a successful business comprising in a chain of shops spread all over the island, with future prospects of expanding even abroad. Malta’s traditional bread has always been an essential part of the story of our island and ever since the Knights of St John, il-ħobża Maltija was always an important part of our cuisine. Nenu tells us that in the old days bread making in Malta was a very hard craftsmanship and the

Baking is more than just a job… it’s a vocation

baker did this trade out of love rather than as a mere means of living. The kneading of bread was done from the baker in what is called the żinġla, then with the help of horses in is-sinja. Years after, a petroleum motor with a wooden machinery was introduced to the market which eventually was also replaced by electricity. Nowadays the technology, the machinery and better hygiene made the production of bread better and more consistent resulting in better quality product. The recipe of il-ħobża Maltija, which goes back hundreds of years, is not a secret at all and it is one of the simplest ever. It consists of a generous amount of water, flour, salt, yeast and the most important ingredient of whom many are unaware of - it-tinsila - part of the mixture which is preserved and added into every new mixture. Nenu compares the creation of the il-ħobża

Maltija with a baby in the womb of its mother, explaining that like a baby needs time to develop in the uterus, the dough of the bread needs its time in order for it to be done in the proper way.

47


THE TRADE that gaves us

our identity… Surprisingly, the ftira, that was recently proposed

he confirmed his belief that our traditional bread is

to UNESCO to be declared as a cultural heritage, most

very high quality and can be a source of competition

likely originated when it was used as a means of testing.

to foreign bread. It gives him pride to know that our

Nenu explained that the ftira was originally a small piece

Maltese traditional bread is so unique. In dismay, he

of dough from the Maltese bread used to check the oven’s

exclaimed that the bakers in Malta are not respected

heat before the intended ħobż Malti would be baked.

enough and that people do not appreciate the time and dedication it takes to make the product.

“Personally, the news that the ftira might be given this honour was like winning a big lottery. My dream is

When asked why there is a lack in people willing to

finally coming true because our hard work and product

work in this industry Nenu, listed a number of factors

given to us by our great grandparents, will finally be

that effected this tradesman ship. “Due to changes in

appreciated and nonetheless it will give our business the

subsidies after we joined the European Union, a lot of

respect it deserves,” says the now grandfather of eleven.

traditional bakers closed down their bakeries,” he stated. Other factors include high sanitary standards and hard

various

working hours that undermined the bakers’ trade to

international bread fares and through these experiences

the extent that by time it became unattractive to pursue

Nenu

48

travelled

and

participated

in


for the new generations and therefore their was no continuation.

Nenu said that he survived in this business due to his perseverance and many sacrifices throughout his journey where all of his family members and himself

Back in the seventies the bakers did not demand a

worked all week round. He recalls how his wife worked

pay increase but rather an opening of school for bakers.

with him throughout their six pregnancies and would

In the past this tradition was passed from one generation

only stop for a few days after birth before she returned

to another but nowadays the new generations would

to work at the bakery. Further to our discussion, he also

rather continue with their studies and seek other

explained that if all local traditional bakers upgraded

professions that do not include craftsmanship.

their machinery, it would been unsustainable given our limited market.

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Malta at the

VENICEbiennale

T

he artists Klitsa Antoniou, Trevor Borg and Vince Briffa will represent Malta at the Biennale Arte 2019 in the exhibition Maleth/ Haven/ Port- Heterotopias of Evocation.

The Malta Pavilion, commissioned by Arts Council Malta and curated by historian Dr Hesperia Iliadou - Suppiej, is inspired by the Odyssey, one of humanity’s oldest stories.

52

The exhibition will verge between reality and fictitious invention, to provide a contemporary and immersive re-interpretation of our timeless need of seeking a Haven (Maleth), most strongly experienced in times of crisis. The Phoenician word Maleth evokes the primeval origins of Malta’s existence and literally translates to Haven/Port, a quality inspired in all who traversed the wa-


53


54


ters of the Mediterranean through the ages and that still withstands today. Bringing together artists from the Mediterranean, the artworks are specially commissioned pieces engaging the audience to complementary semantic enquiries into contemporary conditions of homeness/ (un)homeness spreading beyond predisposed mental notions of assigned tactile borders. Arts Council Malta executive chair Albert Marshall says: “Arts Council Malta is delighted that artists Klitsa Antoniou, Trevor Borg, and Vince Briffa will represent Malta at the 58th International Art Exhibition in Venice, under the curatorial lead of historian Dr Hesperia Iliadou- Suppiej. The exhibition will look at Malta’s unique position within central Mediterranean culture from historical, mythical, and contemporaneous viewpoints with newly commissioned works that promise to be a curiosity-driven voyage of discovery and self-reflection. “Additionally, a series of artist and curator-led educational workshops are planned. These accompany a specially curated catalogue designed as a symbolic guide book into a life’s journey; not only informing the audience of the Pavilion and it’s narrative but also engaging the reader to participate in completing its contents. This will be a uniquely important gesture by the Malta National Pavilion, one that asserts the importance of public engagement in the arts across all ages.” ATLANTROPA X, by Klitsa Antoniou (Cyprus), explores a 1920s project by a German architect that proposed the partial draining of the Mediterranean to form a supercontinent. Here the artist hovers between past and contemporary conditions, of surviving displacement and discontinuity amid conflict, migrations within the current context of fluid topographies and challenged expectations. Klitsa Antoniou’s Atlantropa X is a multi-media installation that will aim to conceptually and artistically form bridges across the Mediterranean Sea, and is par-

tially informed by her own experiences of growing up in Cyprus as a refugee and the impact of the invasion and occupation of Turkish military troops in 1974. The exhibit will comprise 250 square meters of seaweed, video projections, and a sound backdrop shared across the pavilion. Loosely drawing from animal remains and artifacts excavated in a cave in Malta the work seeks to make (up) histories, to fabricate facts and to blur the boundaries between actuality and imagination, real and semblance. In this site-specific installation meticulously researched by the artist, ambivalent remains of unfamiliar creatures and peculiar artifacts re-emerge to expose new layers of meaning. The artist invites the visitor to a mystical journey of surprise and self inquiry navigating through the pre-historic layers of Malta in the footsteps of its earliest inhabitants and their final end. The work concerns displacement narrated through non- taxonomic collecting approaches and constructed actualities. In this multi-media installation, incorporating film, sound, voice and water, Vince Briffa engages with Homer’s Odyssey to metaphorically interpret the idea of a ‘port’ as a place of longing and escape. These anxieties are played out in the film itself and within the installation through the use of salt pans as devices to ‘hold the sea’ whilst liberating the salt from its captive water. Open to diverse readings and drawing on the trifold of histories, mythologies and expectations, Maleth/ Haven/Port- Heterotopias of Evocation aims to create a curatorial theme where the artworks come together, as vessels within a sea, inviting us to participate in an intuitively playful dialogue, traversing the exhibition in a curiosity-driven voyage of self-reflection, in a suggestive fictitious space created within the Arsenale. THE MALTA PAVILION, has been conceptually and spatially realised by curator Dr Hesperia Iliadou- Suppiej Hesperia Iliadou- Suppiej. The architect is Matthew Casha and the production manager is George Lazoglou.

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Ways to improve your eating habits this Summer:

In Summer, people tend to lose track of the Mediterranean diet and portion control. This is because they engage in more eating out activities with family and friends such as barbecues. Food high in saturated fats, sugar and salt tend to be consumed more often during the Summer months.

58


Below are some tips one can follow for eating healthier during Summer:

1

Choose Lean cuts of meats

Consume lean meats such as lean ground beef or skinless chicken breasts instead of processed meats like sausages and ready bought beef burgers. Prepare your homemade burger by using whole wheat buns, lean meats and opt for healthy vegetable toppings. Patties made from beans and legumes such as chickpeas or lentils offer a high fibre alternative to meat. Fish is also a very important part of a healthy diet. In fact we should be consuming two portions (portion =115g of raw fish) of fish per week. One portion white fish and another portion oily fish like salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna. Grilled salmon and tuna offer a low-calorie, protein-packed lunch or dinner. Ask your local fishmonger for the catch of the day.

3

Hydration status

It is recommended to drink between 1.5 to 2 litres (6-8 glasses) of water daily. Water intake depends on age, weight, sex and amount of physical activity performed, as well as environmental factors including the temperature and humidity, both of

2

What to eat

Prepare summer healthy recipes with the right seasonal ingredients providing hydration as well as a satiety effect. With all the abundant produce available during the summer months, buy food such as fresh vegetables and fruit. Foods that require more effort to digest, like those high in protein and fibre are thought to generate more body heat. One way of mitigating this is to use citrus-rich marinades on meat to break down the protein structure and soaking grains to help make the fibre more digestible. Choose low-fat versions or fat-free and sugar-free ice cream or try a sugar-free sorbet, which is a lower-calorie, refreshing alternative. Low fat frozen yoghurts could be a suitable alternative for ice cream for added nutrition and fewer calories. Food must be handled with great care especially during Summer months and appropriate hand washing should be ensured prior touching food items. Food must be cooked thoroughly and avoid cross contamination with other foods when handling raw poultry and meats.

which speed up the water lost through our skin. Keep track of your water intake during heat waves. Try to add pieces of fruit to the water such as lemon, oranges, watermelon as well as some mint and allow to refrigerate for around 30 minutes to get a refreshing drink. It is important that the vulnerable group of people like babies and children and the elderly also keep well hydrated. Being slightly more careful with our food and drink choices this Summer will help us consume the right nutrients and keep a healthy weight. For more information or a copy of our dietary guidelines contact the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate on 23266000

59


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When the

TRADITIONAL MEETS THE CUTTING EDGE...

A recent reimagining of the traditional Maltese bus in the 21st Century caught the Maltese public by storm. VIDA meets with the brain behind the project, AngloMaltese architect Jonathan Mizzi.

Nostalgia can be a really powerful emotion; one which transcends language and movement, but nevertheless can be easily. As soon as I gained entrance inside an old, bright-orange bus, and sat down on the left-side of the driver’s seat, I couldn’t but help think back of the old days. A time where I had to walk the entire road from Junior College to Blata l-Bajda, in order to catch the hourly bus back home, which entailed either spending an entire voyage hanging on for dear life to a seat, or else burning my shin with the red-hot gearbox mechanism, because there was nowhere else I could move.

62


GOOD TIMES INDEED And for this sudden memory rush, I only had one person to thank. Maletse-British architect and designer Jonathan Mizzi’s recent project, a re-imagining of the traditional Maltese bus as a modern electric fleet, caught the imagination of many. What many might have initially thought as a no-brainer (combining the colourful, yet clunky and inefficient old buses, with the more punctual but bland aesthetic of today), in reality became an immediate hit, with support for the project going so far up as the Ministry for Transport. We met during the MRO Technology Expo, which was held in the MFCC Ta’ Qali in the beginning of May. While exhibiting Mizzi’s innovative designs, the event’s

organisers couldn’t help but exhibit, in all of its glory, one of the remaining buses of old, which no less than seven years ago, used to roam around our Maltese streets. Mizzi explained that the idea behind the designs was actually inspired by his experience in living in London: “The project came to mind right after the old buses were decommissioned here in Malta. As I also lived in London, I saw what they did with their own version of the classic public transportation system: The red, double-decker bus. The UK recognised what they lost when it came to decommissioning their old fleet, so they decided to create a modern concept of their old buses.” “Fast forward several months, and I was stuck in traffic behind one of those Boris Johnson bendy-buses in Malta:

63


I spent about half an hour looking at this ugly, blue boxy derrière, and it suddenly hit me. If London managed to do it with their double-decker concept, why not Malta?” The Anglo-Maltese architect explained how his multi-disciplinary studio, who had previously done numerous projects which include robots and other non-conventional design projects, soon embarked on this idea and started developing from the ground up. “It took seven years to finalise this idea. Initially, we were aiming for a fleet of hybrid-vehicles, but eventually, technology has caught up so much, that a completely electric fleet of cars became more and more tangible.” When asked about the biggest challenge that he faced, Mizzi explained how incorporating a multitude of different designs, from hundreds of different buses, into a singular vision was obviously a big ask: “At some point in time, there were hundreds of different unique buses, each with their own saints, names, decorations etc. Eventually, we noticed a number of common genetic features, including the hooded visor, a big smiling front grill, religious references, as well as the two hooded front lamps, which to me look a lot like Pixar characters being brought to life.” “The beauty of the art-deco aesthetic of these buses was that it was futuristic for its time; the execution of

64

their aesthetic template was always dynamic. At the same time, we wanted to include modern features, including low-ramp accessibility, an efficient powertrain, air-conditioning etc.” Mizzi argues that this project can be implemented gradually, in a step-by-step manner. “There’s the possibility that EU funding can be sought, both thanks to the invaluable cultural legacy which is intrinsically linked with these buses, as well as as way for Malta to ensure it reaches its emission targets. The technology is here: China, Paris and London are all striving towards a broader use of electric vehicles within their public transportation system.” “For me, adding all this together, going after this project should be a no-brainer. We hope that this project would be a symbol of how Malta as a nation, we can truly progress, while simultaneously remaining true to our roots and traditions. Who knows? Eventually this fleet may also be completely autonomous.” In his concluding note, Mizzi thanked a large number of entities whose support made the project possible. “Mostly though, it was the overwhelming public appreciation for this project which hit home. The public reaction showed, not only to us but to everyone in general, what these buses mean for the local community, as well as their yearning for a public transport system which can truly bring to light our country’s identity.”


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VIDA Magazine Summer Edition  

Malta Through the Eyes of People

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Malta Through the Eyes of People

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