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Ceramics in Public Spaces – A Collaboration with ACT

We have recently collaborated with the NGO ACT to further promote contemporary ceramic public art. This was possible through our curator, Elyse Tonna, who also forms part of ACT. It’s our first collaboration with this young, energetic and fun non-profit organization and we’re definitely loving the results! Over the past three weeks,  ACT have taken the initiative to document and map ceramic artworks found in public spaces. They shared with us that “this is one of the first attempts to map public art locally, forming part of the project ‘Mapping Arts in Public Spaces’ or ‘MAPS’ which is a project that derives from the ‘Arts in Public Spaces’ Strategy we put together over the past few months. We hope to create awareness and develop an inventory of temporary and ephemeral works found in our urban and rural environments.”

We couldn’t be more excited to share this collaboration with you during the Buongiorno Ceramica Festival, an international initiative to bring the world of ceramics closer to our audiences. We’re participating in this festival as part of our efforts to not only promote contemporary ceramic artists and designers but also to further expose our viewers to the international world of ceramics and the spirit of collaboration that exists in this sphere! What did this process involve?

Firstly, ACT, issued a public call asking their followers to alert them of any ceramic artworks found in public spaces. They also spoke to a number of artists to understand where certain ceramic sculptures are found. Here at the Foundation we provided ACT with a list of works by Gabriel Caruana. Armed with a video camera, tripod, Google maps, and an insatiable thirst for art, Jamie and Elyse spent a few days documenting ceramic artworks across Malta and Gozo. ACT told us that “the majority of the works documented are found in several public gardens and squares. Selected works include ‘Damsels in Verdala’ by Gabriel Caruana, ‘The Guardians’ by George Muscat, ‘Eos, Gaia and Nys’ by Dolores Lungaro Mifsud and ‘Shrine’ by Neville Ferry which are found in the gardens surrounding Verdala Palace.”

Gaia, Nys and Eos by-Dolores Lungaro Mifsud at Verdala Palace. Photo by ACT Malta.

ACT documented these ceramic artworks and developed a short video clip that is being launched as part of the Buongirono Ceramica week and forms part of our first playlist on our brand new You Tube channel! They told us that “the clip also features a number of works at University of Malta including ‘Monument to Arvid Pardo’ by Gabriel Caruana and RICHARD ENGLAND and a piece by Victor Agius. A number of ceramic sculptures are also found in public gardens such as ‘Menhir’ by Katrin Formosa found in Marsalforn, Colonna Eterna in San Gwann, Elementi Naturali I and Elementi Naturali II at Villa Rundle in Rabat (Gozo), all by Paul Vella Critien. ‘Lill-Artisti Maltin’ by Brian Green located in Sliema and a ceramic mural by Katrin Formosa at the Biċċerija in Gozo also feature.”

“The documented artworks do not convey an exhaustive list of all the ceramic sculptures found across the Maltese islands, however they give a good overview of several works which differ in technique, materials, pigments and style. Creating such monumental sculptures requires skill and thorough passion which can be seen in every detail of these works. Over the next few months, ACT will be documenting all known ceramic works in public spaces and inputting data on a map, updating their inventory with related information, photos and videos.”

Such temporary or ephemeral works are needed to make the arts more accessible, to create awareness and incite interaction and to enable communities to activate spaces. 

ACT – Malta

We concur with ACT that “placing arts in public spaces, whatever their form, is not an embellishment process or only a celebration (of a limited duration) of some sorts. Such temporary or ephemeral works are needed to make the arts more accessible, to create awareness and incite interaction and to enable communities to activate spaces. We believe there are a number of measures which need to be implemented to enable our open spaces to capture the true power of the arts to affect society positively. These include the creation of awareness and educational campaigns, empowering communities to form part of the various processes involved and the creation of a regular maintenance programme. Although these are just a few proposals, these simple actions ensure that the works are preserved and more awareness around the accessibility of public arts is generated. In general, this medium is limited, probably because of its fragility. The general state of these works is poor; they are not maintained and appreciation of these public art works is weak. They are also subject to vandalism.”

We’re glad that ACT have taken up this initiative! If you have any information that could help ACT’s strategy of creating awareness and develop an inventory of temporary and ephemeral works found in our urban and rural environments make sure to contact ACT on info[at]act[dot]org[dot]mt or send them a message via their Facebook page.

The documentation of the ceramic sculptures found within the video clip ACT has produced would not have been made possible without Jamie Barbara and Elyse Tonna from ACT, Luke Agius and Francesca Mercieca who gave a helping hand in the creation of the video and Claude Ebejer’s ongoing support (ACT).
ACT is also incredibly grateful towards Mary Rose Caruana and Raffaella Zammit from the Gabriel Caruana Foundation. Some works would have not been accessible had it not been for the support of the Office of the President of the Republic, HE President George Vella, the Ministry for Gozo, Victor Agius and Dr Sandro Debono.