AN EXHIBITION IN GHAJNSIELEM

During my walk today I came upon a small exhibition of cribs in the local village. In Malta and Gozo it is very traditional to build nativity cribs named ‘presepju’, quite often a whole village scene is built around it too, the structure can become quite large and is always interesting as features are used that shows life, and incorporates items of farming or domestic scenes from long ago set in local landscape. The traditional figurines that are made here, are called ‘pasturi’ they are hand-made out of unfired clay or wax.

I have been fascinated by some of these cribs here in Gozo, last winter I saw some beautiful and very artistic ones in a shop window.  The clothing of the figurines quite elaborate, my favourite was one crib where the figurines were all dressed in medieval textiles and clothing design of that day.  This time too among the cribs in this exhibition there was use of textile in the making of one of the cribs and the effect was rather nice, down to the minutest details of for example a slipper, made in miniature with fine gold thread and use of deep reds and greens.  There is no doubt that a lot of loving and patient work goes into making these cribs and it is fine to see exhibitions of them all over the island around this time of the year.  I took some photos to show some of the variety for your perusal.

In this crib all the figurines have been dressed in beautiful textile.

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This Christ child is surrounded by traditional flowers made of metal wire, silk thread, beads, and or jewels. This work is done by hand and is called ‘ganutell’. I read that this beautiful art form was practised in monasteries. But it also mentions that the Maltese in the sixteenth century made use of the spiral gold and silver wire called canutiglia, and together with silk thread, glass beads, pearls, gems, and gold and silver wire would produce these beautiful flowers which are mostly kept under glass domes now – and here is one of them. One of my Gozitan friends has made me a flower bunch like that, she told me that it is very intricate work, and I believe her. For more information on Ganutell see this link: https://www.google.com.mt/search?q=ganutell+malta&sa=X&dcr=0&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ved=0ahUKEwj8trq0v63YAhULbxQKHW10DQcQsAQILg&biw=1366&bih=622

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Another one of the Christmas traditions in Gozo is putting a crib in the window, it is an old custom, and I saw it a lot in Victoria last winter. Here is an example, made as part of the exhibition.

And these are then some of the ‘pasturi’ made in unfired clay, some of them painted.

More ‘pasturi’ but larger this time.

blog on exhibition in Ghajnsielem These is a collection of all the participant of this exhibition, I just wanted to include it in case anyone would like to know.
It was an unexpected and nice surprise to come across during my walk to fetch some milk today, things like this always teach me something more about Gozo and the Gozitans for which I am very glad and thankful.

EDGE OF LANDSCAPE – WILLIAM CROZIER

Skibbereen town is currently running its yearly Arts Festival and the town is buzzing with people, whole families, and lots of children – what a nice atmosphere I found today down town. I went to see William Crozier’s exhibition ‘Edge of Landscape’ in our Uillinn Art Centre, which by the way puts on lots of interesting exhibitions and other activities very regularly. There was a guided tour and I thought it would be nice to know a bit more about Crozier’s work, though I know his paintings for a long time as he was living locally. The tour took us through some earlier works and also showed us some of the most recent before his death. I was impressed with his lines and colours, with his painting of West Cork as he saw it – though he painted from memory. He painted the landscape as it relates to people, as it was created by the people, so you have what one might recognise as hay stacks and fields with borders, always borders. In a lot of his work, of a certain period, he painted high horizons, again this creating a border around his fields.
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Painting on the right is ‘The Ripe Field’ 1990

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Painting above is ‘Wolf’s Castle, Toe Head, 1998

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Above are some of his earlier works, on the right is a painting called ‘Winged Figure’ which he painted in the early seventies.  He stopped using figures in his paintings though he had used them a lot in much of his earlier work before he came to West Cork. Personally I find his work which include figures much harder to look at and make sense of.

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The painting above and below are much later work before he died, I love the simplicity of these and I agree with what one of the visitors said, that they reminded her a little of Matisse.  We were told that Crozier was indeed influenced by Matisse, a thought that I liked.

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I’ve always loved visiting art exhibitions. I discovered the value of this in my late teens when I used to go look at paintings in galleries both in Antwerp and in Dublin and was impressed with the energy that would affect me coming from the works, such a difference from looking at a reproduction or print. I was going to Art college at night in those days and I guess that urge to go see paintings never left me since. Luckily Skibbereen town has a thriving Art Centre and other galleries besides. West Cork is a real haven for artists and people who love art. I feel so lucky.