Posts Tagged ‘craft’

  • Long shell life

    Baby Jesus in eggshell - Photo by Fiona VellaAlthough during the Christmas season, it is customary to see statues of baby Jesus in a manger or in a crib, in Candice Fava’s shop New EGGsperience, the holy child would be seen resting in a decorated eggshell.

    “I love to create unique hand-made objects and this craft of eggshell decoration has provided me with the opportunity to have my own niche market,” Fava explains.

    Fava was raised on a farm in Australia, where her family sold eggs. They had several clients but one particular client intrigued Fava since she regularly purchased a substantial quantity of eggs.

    “One day I decided to ask her why she always needed so many eggs and she promised that the next time she called at our farm, she would bring me a gift to show me. I felt deeply curious and I awaited her next visit with much anticipation. Eventually, she brought me a little jewel box adorned with lovely fabrics and accessories. I could not believe that she had actually made it with one of the eggs from our farm!”

    Xmas eggshell decoration (3) - Photo by Fiona VellaFava was so fascinated with this idea that she decided to learn this craft. At the farm, she had all the eggs that she required and in time she learnt how to clean them without breaking them. Soon, she was producing her own eggshell decorations.

    “The first item I made was a jewel box which I painted with bright nail polish. I was so delighted when I saw it ready! Today I realize that it wasn’t much but it is still very dear to me as it reminds me from where it all started.”

    Along the years, eggshell decoration became an integral part of Fava’s life. Which explains why she was surprised when she came over to Malta and realized that this craft was totally unknown on the island.

    “It was hard at first to find the necessary materials to work with. However, my husband Ivan helped me to locate some local farms which could provide me with eggs. He also assisted me in the cleaning and sterilization of the eggshells.”

    Eggshell carriage - Photo by Fiona VellaInitially she decorated eggshells for her personal enjoyment. Then she began to give them out as gifts to her friends.

    “My friends were delighted with these eggshell decorations since they had never seen anything like them before. Soon they were asking me to make some more creations for them so that they could give them as presents to others. It was only a matter of time until I confirmed that there was a demand for such products.”

    Ultimately, people’s positive reactions to her craft led her to open her own shop in Zabbar.

    Xmas eggshell decoration (5) - Photo by Fiona Vella“By then, I had produced so many various eggshell decorations that I had no difficulty to fill the shop with my creations. Each time that new clients come in, it is charming to see their incredulity that so many exquisite things can be made from common fragile eggshells.”

    Nowadays, the Favas have located foreign suppliers who are able to furnish them with quantities of ready-made cleaned and sterilized eggshells. Moreover, they have also managed to establish contacts with suppliers of other materials with which the eggshells are decorated.

    Candice and Ivan Fava at their shop - Photo by Fiona Vella“My husband supports me a lot and helps me to come out with new ideas. Along the years, he too became enthusiastic about this work and now he is able to make his own creations.”

    A wide range of differently decorated eggshells which are ideal as gifts for various occasions are displayed at their shop. However, a few of them are not for sale.

    “When we join forces, we create the best decorations,” the two agree. “The collaboration of ideas lead to exclusive objects which become difficult to part from. Some of them, such as the lamp shade, the handbag set and the sea vessel, are cherished objects and we have won prestigious awards for them at local national craft competitions. Such works provide us also with the opportunity to combine different materials and crafts like woodwork and eggshell decoration. Our imagination has no limit, however we are restrained with the eggshells’ curvatures, although we take that as part of the challenge.”

    Lamp shade - Photo by Fiona VellaEven though all of the creations may serve as decorations, some of them also have their own practical use, acting as exotic containers, wearable accessories or light fittings.

    “Besides selling our creations from my shop, I also participate in several fairs and exhibitions and therefore more people are getting to know about this craft. Presently I am also taking part in the program Niskata which airs on TVM. Yet there is still much more to do to create more awareness.”

    “It is great to see how far a simple hobby can take you. Little by little, all my family has become involved in this craft. In fact, my daughter is already coming up with her own designs and creations and my little son is showing interest too.”

    In these last years, Fava has also dedicated herself to teach this craft to all those who are interested, both children and adults. She has also furnished her shop with all the necessary materials including eggshells of various sizes, cut eggshells, acrylic paints, stands, bases and a multitude of other items.

    As Christmas time approaches, the two explore the possibility of new designs and ideas in order to come out with original creations which relate to this theme.

    Eggshell crib - Photo by Fiona Vella“We are always dreaming of what we are going to do next. We work with all sorts of eggshells, starting with the smallest ones of love-birds and parrots, and moving on to larger ones such as those of pigeons, quails, ducks, geese, emu, rhea and ostrich. The geese’s eggs are the most practical because of their size and shape. Other eggs are relished for their natural particular characteristics such as the blackish colour of the rhea eggs and the large shape and pearly shade of the ostrich eggs.”

    “Christmas brings a lot of joy and memories. This festive season opens up a whole new world to create related items with baby Jesus statues, cribs, angels, Father Christmas, reindeers, sparkles and a whole range of bright colours. We love to reflect the warm meaning of Christmas in our works.”

    2017.12.03 / no responses / Category: The Sunday Times - Articles

  • Take me to church

    “ ‘They have hit our church!’ cried a man as he stumbled down in the tunnel which was located under the Mall Garden. We were huddling in there for shelter together with many other people as the bombs came down over Floriana,” reminisced Pawlu Piscopo who was eight at the time.

    Bombed St Publius' church (Photo provided by Pawlu Piscopo)“At this horrible news, my father grabbed me and my brother by the hand and took us out of the tunnel and over to the granaries where a very sad spectacle awaited us. St Publius’ Church had suffered a direct hit. Its dome was gone and the area was surrounded in rubble. Thirteen people who were taking cover in the church’s crypt were killed and eleven more were injured. That was the blackest moment in the history of the parish church of Floriana: April 28, 1942 at 7:50am.”

    After their house had been bombed, Pawlu’s family were allowed to take some respite in a large residence which today houses the Floriana Local Council. Yet for four years, they lived mostly underground in this tunnel which probably saved their lives. They took with them only a few belongings and the most cherished items, including a statue of St Publius which dated back to 1928 and used to adorn the model altar that his father had constructed at home.

    “Most families in Malta had a model of an altar or a miniature church at home at the time.  Unfortunately, many of these had to be abandoned during the war and a good number of them were destroyed when the houses were bombed.”

    The craft of church model-making had been introduced to our islands by the Knights of St John back in the 16th century, and therefore its knowledge was a distinct tradition. However the adversity of war ravaged even this precious memory until eventually this craft was almost completely forgotten.

    The entrance to Pawlu's model of St Publius' chucrh (Photo provided by Pawlu Piscopo)“After the war, people tried to get on with their lives as best as they could. Shops started to open again but those that used to sell miniature items with which to decorate our religious models, dwindled down to almost none. Nevertheless, the passion for model-making was much engrained in our family and when I bought a miniature structure made of four columns and a dome from a man who was leaving Malta to go to live in Australia, my father Carmelo was inspired to use it as the foundation for a model of St Publius’ church,” explained Pawlu.

    Carmelo was a very skilled carpenter. He would go from time to time to have a look at the church and then go back to his model and construct an exact copy of the section that he had seen.

    “He used the material which was handy at the time, mostly cardboard, wood and gypsum. I helped him out too in order to build the whole church which included ten altars. Eventually, this model reached a huge size of three by four metres and we could walk in it and look above at the beautiful dome,” Pawlu said proudly.

    Once his father grew old, Pawlu continued with the work on this church which they had started back in the early 1960s. As he embellished this model, the wish to set up a group for model-makers in order to share this passion with them, burnt within him.

    Pawlu Piscopo at the exhibition (Photo - Fiona Vella)“On February 26, 1986 which happenned to be the tenth anniversary of my father’s demise, I discussed this idea with two of my friends, Raphael Micallef and Tony Terribile, who were very interested in this sector. We all agreed to do something in order to revive this craft and we sent out adverts in the newspapers to announce the set up of this group which we called Għaqda Dilettanti Mudelli ta’ Knejjes (Church Modelling Society). We were very happy when we received a great response from enthusiastic individuals all over Malta. Soon, a commitee was formed and on March 1986, we organized the first exhibition during the first two weeks of Lent wherein the members displayed the works that they had.”

    It was certainly a great satisfaction to see this society thrive and grow along the years, always adding up new members of various ages. Today, around 400 members form part of this group which operates from its premises at 37, East Street, Valletta.

    John Paul Buhagiar Smith, one of the youngest members of the society, decorating his model-altar (Photo - Fiona Vella)“This year we are delighted to celebrate the 30th anniversary from the establishment of this society,” Pawlu said. “The annual exhibition has been taking place each year. Besides offering the opportunity to showcase our members’ works, this event has served to help our members and the public which visits it, to meditate during the Lent period and to prepare for the Easter celebrations.”

    A bi-monthly magazine, Il-Knisja Tiegħi (My Church), which was also initiated by Pawlu, is marking its 30th anniversary too. Members have been writing features in it related to different aspects of religious folklore, thereby kindling even further interest in model-making.

    Once again this year, the society has organized this exhibition which saw the participation of several of its members. Exhibits varied and included small to large statues of the passion of Christ and Easter, statues of Blessed Mary and several saints, models of altars, church facades and whole churches made of different materials.

    Detail from Pawlu's model dome (1) (Photo provided by Pawlu Piscopo)“I hope that I’ll have enough strength to exhibit my large model of St Publius’ church,” revealed Pawlu at one point. “It takes me four weeks to set it up on a large platform and to connect the miniature chandeliers and light fittings to electricity. I am getting old now and such work is very tiring.”

    Pawlu has been exhibiting this model in a building besides the Floriana Cathecism Museum for many years now, during the feast of St Publius which takes place two weeks after Easter.

    “Many people come to visit my model and they are fascinated with it. Tourists take photos besides it and they ask me how I managed to construct it section by section and yet making it look as a whole. I tell them that there are lifetimes of passion invested within it and that it is imbued with a blend of religious meaning and local traditional skills and creativity.”

    At 82 years, Pawlu is serene and thankful to see the society which he has founded together with his friends strengthen itself and adding members to it.

    “I just wish that it will continue to flourish for very long,” smiled Pawlu as he looked contentedly around him in order to appreciate the beautiful displayed works of the society’s members.

    (This article was published in the Easter Supplement which was issued with The Times of Malta dated 21st March 2016)

    2016.03.21 / no responses / Category: Times of Malta


    As several bombs were let loose on our islands during the attacks of World War II, their destructive effects threatened more than human lives and buildings. They put at peril our heritage, jeopardizing the roots of our people and the future of our country.

    Raphael Micallef in front of old model made by Manuel PsailaRaphael Micallef, now 82, still recalls the terror felt by the people as the shrill of the air-raid sirens urged them to leave their houses and run for shelters. As an inhabitant of the capital city, he saw his town being shattered to pieces, the damage claiming even unique treasures such as the Chapel of Bones which used to be so popular both with the locals and the tourists. People huddled together in shelters and prayed for their own safety but they also implored for their houses to be spared as these nested within them all their possessions, memories of loved ones, and valuable objects which had been passed on from generation to generation.

    “Valletta and Cottonera suffered some of the severest attacks. Unfortunately within these areas one could find the best examples of church models, many of which had been inherited over many years. Sadly most of them had to be abandoned during the war and almost all of them ended up buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings.”

    The craft of church model-making had been introduced to our islands by the Knights of St John back in the 16th century, and therefore it’s knowledge was a distinct tradition. However the adversity of war  ravaged even this ancient memory until eventually this craft was almost completely forgotten.

    In 1986, this dire situation inspired Raphael, who was an avid enthusiast in church model-making, to make an effort to revive this craft. Together with his friends Tony Terribile and Paul Piscopo, he ventured to initiate an association under the name of Għaqda Dilettanti Mudelli ta’ Knejjes which aimed to instill interest, knowhow and craftsmanship in the art of church model-making. The first president of the association was Guido Lanfranco.

    Simon Mercieca with his church model“After 26 years, I am proud to say that now we have our own premises at 37 East Street, Valletta. Although it is a small place, our 400 members meet keenly under its humble roof in order to attend to the regular activities that we organize. Members’ ages differ greatly; starting from young children of 7 and going up to elderly individuals over 90. Everybody is welcome in our group and together we learn and discuss new ideas of how to enrich this cultural tradition. Each of the members has the opportunity to explore his skills and to enhance them further both through the interaction with other members and also under the guidance of craftsmen and historians who are frequently invited to our premises. Many members have built their own church models, some of which one can even walk through – a popular model is that of Simon Mercieca which is often open to the public for viewing. Others have opted to produce statues and accessories which are used in the church models. Most of the members succeed in producing marvellous works, sometimes using common objects and transforming them into intricate decorations which adorne the models.”

    Each year, during the Lenten period, the association organizes an exhibition with some of the works of the members, both to give them the opportunity to share their skill with others and also to attract the public to this old tradition.

    “Our association is deeply cherished by its members. In fact some of them have honoured us by donating us prestigious works which belonged to them or to their families. It is a great privilege to possess a number of the few lucky survivors of war which managed to make it, as their owners lovingly took them along with them to safer areas.”

    100 year old model of a niche worked out of quillingRaphael showed me some of these examples, including an elegant limestone church facade which was designed by Manuel Psaila between 1935 and 1940, and a delicate niche produced out of quilling which dates back to more than 100 years. I was thankful to Raphael for having shared with me this experience. His calm and serene smile was full of pride as his dream of giving the life back to a part of our culture was fulfilled. In fact the association’s work has succeeded to reach much further grounds than any of the members could ever have aspired for, when in 1994, Joseph Sciberras ended up winning a place in the Guinness Book of Records for his church model which was made out of more than 3 million used up matchsticks!

    I met Joseph Sciberras, now 93, in his son’s home in Attard. Sitting cosily near his bird pet who sung cheerfully at his side, Joseph told me the story of his model which has given him so much satisfaction in his life.

    “I was an electrician by trade but during the war I was engaged as a soldier. I remember vividly a particular day when I was at work in Delimara and came to know that Floriana, where I lived, had just been badly hit by bomb attacks. I was desperate to see whether my family was safe and whether our house was damaged, and my superior allowed me to leave. I walked right back to Floriana there and then, and luckily both my family and my house were safe. The enemy used to target his attacks from the Floriana parish church and bomb throughout. We lived nearby and one day our house did fall victim to these attacks, alas like the church which did too anyway.

    Joseph Sciberras with his model of Floriana parish churchYears passed and both our houses and the Floriana parish church were rebuilt. I used to like to observe the facade of our beloved church and when I became a pensioner, I decided to start building an exact model of it. I chose to construct it out of used up matchsticks. Day after day, I worked on my model, constantly taking measures and designing the acute details of the facade.

    When my friends who most of them worked at the Dockyards got to know what I was doing, they started to collect used mathsticks for me. Then when I exhibited my first model to the public, these matchsticks began to arrive from different areas of Malta! I had so many in hand that I ended up doing all the parish church inside out, until eventually the model measured 2 metres by 2 metres with a height of a further 1.5 metres.

    Joseph Sciberras showing the Guiness Book of RecordsPeople were totally mesmerized by my model and many, including several tourists, even hugged me when they noticed all the details and work that I had put into my work. It was during one of these exhibitions when some foreigners entered to view my model. I could not be more lucky as these were officials of the Guinness Book of Records and as they studied and measured my model, they informed me that I had succeeded to break the record of the previous winner matchstick model! Soon a certificate arrived together with my inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records.” Spiritedly Joseph showed me his model church displayed on the pages of this famous book. He felt very satisfied that his hard work which took so many years to do was given such an acknowledgement.

    “Ultimately this model became part of my life as I have dedicated much of my love and my time to it. In return it gave me happinness as I saw people admiring it and appreciating my skill and patience. I have taken good care of it all along these years and my final wish is to donate my model to our National Museum of Etnography wherein it could be enjoyed by the public in reminiscence of me and of this ancient cultural tradition. I feel sad to leave it behind me but one cannot live forever, can he?”

    Francis Sciberras showing me his father's workI could not resist the invitation of Francis, Joseph’s son, to visit the workshop of his father in Floriana wherein this model was stored. Humorously Francis indicated the name of the place “Sulfarina” (matchstick). “Interestingly our family was originally known as “Taċ-Ċomb” (of lead) but today, because of my father’s model, everyone knows us as “Tas-Sulfarini” (of the matchsticks). Notwithstanding that my father has stopped working now, I still find packets full of used matchsticks which people leave behind his door.”

    We went into the small building which was totally engulfed by the huge model of the Floriana parish church and by other of Joseph’s works, all made of matchsticks. With some difficulty, Francis managed to find his way through the multitude of wires which his father had included in the model in order to light up the church.

    Section of the model of Floriana parish church Now I could observe what Joseph had talked about…. the millions of matchsticks, each one placed or thwarted to fit into the shape that he had designed for them…. the facade, the dome, the walls, the columns, the niches, the floor, the minute chairs. There were also small silver apostles which Francis had made for his father to place on the altar. Miniature gorgeous chandeliers made up of common scrap hung beautifully along the flowing arches. It was all set up and ready as if inviting people to go inside.

    I gazed inside the model church, my eyes resting and enjoying every detail whilst I slowly understood what this all means… Within this modest model lied the admirable representation of our local skills together with the ability of our people to prevail even through the hardest times.

    For further information about the Għaqda Dilettanti Mudelli ta’ Knejjes, one can access their website or join their facebook page.

    (Note: An edited version of this article was published in FIRST magazine Issue April 2012. A pdf version of the published article is available on this website under the title MINIATURE CHURCH DEVOTION).

    2012.04.15 / no responses / Category: Malta Independent on Sunday - First magazine


    Candice Fava Natives watched eagerly with awe as the foreign traders unwrapped large ostrich eggs decorated with exotic painted designs. The Phoenician merchants were sure that the ornamented eggs will be sold out in a matter of minutes, for this race possessed the key to humanity’s heart – the ability to manipulate a sense of wonder. Centuries later this magic still lives … an ingenious craft which started far away in an Australian farm has recently been introduced to our islands by Candice Fava, whose artistry in egg decoration is a joy to behold.

    Ornamental egg decorations“I have fond memories of my childhood. My family lived in a farm in Australia from which we used to sell eggs. We had lots of clients but one particular client attracted my attention since she regularly purchased a substantial quantity of eggs. One day I decided to ask her why she always needed so many eggs and she promised that the next time she called at our farm, she will bring me a gift to show me. I felt deeply curious and I awaited her next visit with much anticipation. When she came she brought me a little jewel box adorned with lovely fabrics and accessories. I could not believe that she had actually made it with one of the eggs from our farm! It was such a fascinating idea that I made up my mind to learn this craft. I was blessed to have so much eggs to experiment upon and my mum urged me and gave me ideas to be creative. Eventually I succeeded to learn how to empty the eggs and clean them thoroughly without breaking them. The first item I made was a jewel box which I painted with a bright nail polish. I was so delighted when I saw it ready! Today I realize that it wasn’t much and I keep it hidden away. However it is very dear to me as it reminds me from where it all started.”

    Egg Christmas Cracker openLooking at the variety of decorated eggs in her shop NewEggsperience in Żabbar, it was clear that Candice had learned the craft quite well. I surely found it hard to understand how she could carve out doors, windows, shelves and other designs from a simple egg-shell. And like the famous incredulous St Thomas, she had to allow me to hold an object in my hands in order to affirm that it was really made out of an egg.

    Egg Santa Sleigh and Reindeer“People everywhere react in this way with regards to these items since most think that eggshell is too fragile to work with. However the eggs which I use today are provided by foreign farms who specialize in this sector where probably the birds are given food mixed with fragmented shells in order to harden the quality of their eggshells. This craft is so widespread in different countries that there are also factories which sell a variety of cleansed eggs.”

    Yet when Candice came over to Malta, she was quite shocked as there were no shops who sold the accessories needed for this work.

    Baby Jesus egg“This craft was totally unknown in Malta but with the help of  my husband I searched on the internet and I succeeded to buy all that was necessary online. Egg decoration had become an essential part of my life and I simply could not stop creating new things. Initially I did these objects for my personal satisfaction. Then surprisingly, when I started to give them out as gifts, I began to receive requests from my friends to make something for them. Eventually I had so many finished objects and I saw so much interest in my work, that I decided to fulfill another dream of mine and I opened this shop.”

    A range of eggs of various sizes and colours were ready to be transformed into new creations. Likewise, small jars of colourful paint and a multitude of various decorations were crying out to become part of a new charming object.

    “I’m always dreaming of what I can do next. I work with all sorts of eggs, starting with the smallest ones of love-birds and parrots, and moving on to larger ones such as those of pigeons, quails, ducks, geese, emu, rhea and ostrich. The geese’ eggs are the most practical because of their size and shape. Other eggs are relished for their natural particular characteristics such as the blackish colour of the rhea eggs and the large shape and pearly shade of the ostrich eggs.”

    For the Christmas season, Candice has come up with exquisite original creations.

    Cribs“Christmas time is wonderful and I love to reflect its warm sensations and meaning in my works. Cribs are the most requested although I have a vast selection of other items too. I’m constantly pondering over new creations as I thrive hard to provide unique hand-made objects which one could give to that special person who deserves such an exclusive gift.

    Some clients have even asked me to show them how these creations are done in order to be able to produce them for themselves and also to compose their very own personal gift this Christmas. I instructed them how to do Christmas crackers first and many clients were delighted to see that even they could produce beautiful objects. For after all, it’s all a matter of creativity, dedication and much patience.”

    Candice Fava (2)I asked her whether she was worried that these very clients would one day become her very competitors.

    “Probably some of them might but I have no problem with that. Instead I feel great satisfaction when I understand that I succeeded to initiate the love for this craft in these islands. For after all what is the value of such creativity if you can’t share it with others?”

    (Note: An edited version of this article was published in FIRST Issue December 2011)

    2011.12.15 / no responses / Category: Malta Independent on Sunday - First magazine


    Villaġġ li ġie ippjanat biex jaqdi n-neċessitajiet ta’ żmien il-gwerra għadu validu illum? Wara dawn is-snin kollha, għaliex għadna nilqgħu lit-turisti f’post li jesprimi biċ-ċar it-telqa li hemm? U fuq kollox, għaliex intelqu għal rieħhom dawk li qed jippruvaw iżommu ħajja t-tradizzjoni tas-sengħa Maltija? Il-proġett tal-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat veru twaqqaf għax l-Unjoni Ewropeja m’approvatx il-fondi għalih? X’jaħsbu s-sidien u x’inhi l-pożizzjoni tal-Partit Laburista rigward dan il-proġett f’Ta’ Qali?

    INTERVISTA: Paul Said – Direttur Valletta Glass

    Kif bdejt taħdem fil-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat f’Ta’ Qali?

    Storja twila! Jien ilni hawn mill-1971. Iżda fir-realtà l-istorja tal-familja tagħna ma’ dal-post hija ferm iktar antika minn hekk. In-nannu tiegħi u ħutu kienu jaħdmu f’dawn l-inħawi matul il-ħames snin tal-Inbena fi żmien il-gwerragwerra. Hawnhekk kien hawn l-airstrip tal-militar Ingliż u huma kienu joffru s-servizz bħala kuntratturi. Xogħolhom kien li jirranġaw il-ħsara li kienu jħallu warajhom l-attakki mill-ajruplani tal-gwerra Taljani u Ġermaniżi. Kienu jaħdmu fuq it-toroq, ir-runway, il-huts u l-kmamar tal-madwar (li kienu fis-sit fejn hemm l-istadium illum). Niftakar liz-ziju tiegħi jgħidli li ġieli l-istess kamra bnewha tlett darbiet f’ġimgħa! F’dan il-post, qabel il-gwerra, ftit li xejn kien hawn bini. Ġie organizzat mill-Ingliżi waqt il-gwerra li kienu jużawh bħala l-bażi tagħhom. Kienu ikkultivawh u kien post nadif u mqassam sewwa… x’differenza illum. Sal-1970 ħadd ma seta’ jidħol mingħajr il-permess tal-Ingliżi. Niftakar ta’ tifel li kont, meta kont żgħir, min jaf kemm il-darba dħalt bir-rota ma’ sħabi u kienu jiġu jkeċċuna ‘l barra. Taf int, iktar kemm ma tkunx tista’ tidħol x’imkien, iktar tkun trid tara x’hemm. 95% mill-huts li fadal kienu hawn fi żmien il-gwerra. Il-hut tiegħi oriġinarjament kienet Kordin u mbagħad inġiebet hawn.

    Jien dħalt f’dax-xogħol meta kelli 16-il sena. Ix-xogħol li jsir bl-idejn minn dejjem kien jiġbidni. Dħalt naħdem mal-Imdina Glass u hemmhekk kien hemm wieħed Taljan li kien influwenzani bil-kbir. Meta Paul Saidkont narah jaħdem kien jispirani ħafna. Kont inħoss dik  ix-xi ħaġa ġo fija li ma nafx kif naqbad nispjegaha – li kienet tgħaġġibni kif tista’ qisek mix-xejn tagħmel xi ħaġa malajr. Għamilt disgħa snin naħdem hemm. Imbagħad kien hemm perjodu meta x-xogħol kien daqsxejn ħażin u kien hemm meta jiena u ħija ddeċidejna li niftħu hawn għal rasna. Bdejna norganizzaw ruħna akkost it-tfixkil kbir li konna nsibu speċjalment mill-Istat. Trid tagħmel xi ħaġa u ma tistax, trid tkabbar u ma tistax. Taħli ħafna żmien u enerġija għalxejn. L-affarijiet hekk kif tgħaddi s-saħna tal-mument minn fuqhom, jintilef l-interess dwarhom u tkun trid timxi għal xi ħaġa oħra. Wara xi erbgħa snin li konna hawn, is-sid tal-Imdina Glass li kien Ingliż, avviċinana biex jara kienx jinteressana nixtru n-negozju tiegħu. Irranġajna u ħadnih u ħija mar jieħu ħsieb l-Imdina Glass filwaqt li jien bqajt nieħu ħsieb il-Valletta Glass.

    Illum m’għadnix nagħmlu vażuni biss imma nagħmlu bosta affarijiet oħra bħal pittura, ħġieġ għall-bibien, arloġġi eċċ. Mort għal diversi korsijiet speċjalment f’Venezja fejn hemm l-aqwa artisti ta’ dan ix-xogħol. Bi pjaċir ngħid li xogħolna jintogħġob ħafna u saħansitra nqassmu f’diversi ħwienet madwar Malta u anki barra mill-pajjiż.

    X’taħseb dwar il-kundizzjonijiet tal-post li taħdem fih u kemm tikkunsidra li dawn jirriflettu fuq il-bejgħ tiegħek?

    U żgur li jirriflettu fuq il-bejgħ! Hawnhekk messu hawn post fejn it-turist iqatta’ nofs ta’ nhar, mhux jiġi kwarta u jitlaq. Jiena kont wieħed minn dawk li dejjem tlabt biex jirranġa ruħu dan il-post. Imma nemmen li jrid isir crafts village ta’ veru, bil-ħsieb li t-turist li jiġi hawn, jieħu pjaċir u jqatta’ s-siegħat hawn. Jekk l-ewwel darba jiġi ma’ tour, f’ġurnata oħra  jiġi waħdu għax ikun ħa gost.

    Jidhirlek li hu apprezzat ix-xogħol tagħkom mill-barranin u mill-Maltin?

    It-turisti japprezzawh ħafna dan il-craft tagħna tal-ħġieġ. Sikwit jistaqsuk kif tibda u kif taħdem u kemm iddum biex titgħallem sengħa bħal dik. Wara jibgħatulek ċertu emails u jgħidulek li ġew il-ħanut tiegħek u apprezzaw kemm il-ħanut tiegħek huwa differenti minn ta’ ħaddieħor. Għalija dan l-isbaħ kumment għax hekk inħossni tassew kburi li għandi xi ħaġa unika veru tiegħi. Sfortunatament il-kwalità tat-turist m’għadiex bħalma kienet. Il-baġit tiegħu naqas ħafna. Qabel kienu jiġu ċertu cruise liners li kienu tajbin ħafna għalina għax kienu jiġu jixtru l-aqwa affarijiet. Illum il-prezzijiet tal-cruises raħsu u ssib kull tip ta’ turist. Għalkemm il-maġġoranza tal-bejgħ tagħna jmur għand it-turist, il-Malti, jekk ikun jaf bik, japprezza wkoll. U f’dawn il-każi, il-Maltin jixtru affarijiet aħjar minn dak li jieħdu t-turisti.

    Issa kontu ilkhom 17-il sena tiġu mwegħda illi l-villaġġ ta’ Ta’ Qali kien ser jiġi mibni mill-ġdid. X’tikkummenta?

    Ilu aktar minn hekk! Il-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat ilu ħa jsir mill-1978. Kien hemm xi pjanti imma kienu baqgħu fuq l-ixkaffa. Jiena li nixtieq hu li hawnhekk ma jkunx hawn ħwienet imma crafts village. U m’hemmx għalfejn nonfqu ħafna miljuni taf! Żgur mhux il-100 unit li kienu ippjanati, l-aktar l-aktar xi 25 wieħed iddedikat speċifikament għas-snajja’ biss. Kieku sar dak il-proġett ħafna units kienu ser jispiċċaw vojta u jintużaw għal użu ieħor. Dan ifisser li l-pajjiż ikun għamel spiża kbira għalxejn biex noqogħdu nħallsuhom taxxi jiena u int. Jiena naħseb li min kien qed jieħu ħsieb dan il-proġett fetaħ idejh u kien hawn min approfitta ruħu biex jixtri l-art u jinnegozjaha u mhux għax riedha għal xi sengħa. Sewwa, mela jiena nagħmel investiment biex naħdem u nħaddem u l-gvern ibiegħ proprjetà lil xi ħadd biex dan ibiegħa lil ħaddieħor; jagħmel il-flus u jitlaq ‘l hemm. Imbagħad jieħu l-proprjetà xi impurtatur li jġib l-affarijiet miċ-Ċina u jkissirni. Kieku l-pajjiż ikun għamel dawk l-ispejjeż kollha għalxejn għax il-proġett ma jirnexxix.

    Temmen illi dan il-proġett twaqqaf għax Malta ma ngħatatx fondi mill-Unjoni Ewropeja?

    Veru ma kienx hawn fondi. Immaġina, wasal għala widnejja li min ipprova jidħol għat-tenders ta’ dan il-proġett, kien ser jaħdem u mbagħad jitħallas għaxar snin wara! Barra minn hekk l-Unjoni Ewropeja ma kienet ser tapprova qatt dawk il-miljuni kollha għal proġett bħal dak. Dak mhux crafts village kien imma villaġġ sħiħ. Il-proġett mill-ewwel ma kienx organizzat tajjeb. Anki l-istimi li saru ma kienux ġusti. Per eżempju mill-istima li għamel il-perit tal-proġett għall-istima tal-perit tagħna kien hemm differenza kbira.

    Kif ġejt affetwat mill-waqfien ta’ dan il-proġett?

    Dur dawra m’hawnhekk u kulħadd jgħidlek li jirringrazzjaw ‘l Alla li waqaf il-proġett li kien hemm maħsub għax hekk jew hekk aħna ma konnix naqblu miegħu. Kien hemm min qalli li ġie sfurzat biex Valletta glassjiffirma. Kif kien il-proġett ma kienx ippjanat għall-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat kif kien qed jintqal. Anzi naħseb illi kieku hawn kien jimtela’ bl-abbuż sakemm il-crafts kienu jispiċċaw darba għal dejjem. Fil-massa, l-impurtaturi jiġu żgur. Jiena għalija, ħalli jkun hawn min għandu s-sengħa bħali u nikkompetu bejnietna fuq l-istess linja. Imma mhux lest nikkompeti ma’ min jimporta għax ma nkunux qed nikkompetu fuq l-istess livell. Dak ma jkollux l-istess spejjeż tiegħi u jkollu vantaġġ akbar fuqi, biex wara kollox ibiegħ prodott inferjuri u mhux Malti. Il-proġett huwa importanti li jsir. Imma jrid isir bil-ħsieb u b’konsultazzjoni magħna ħalli b’hekk isir pjan li jkun veru utli u ta’ gwadann għall-pajjiż.

    Kemm huwa possibbli illi x-xogħol tiegħek jiġi relokat fil-Baċir Numru 1?

    Sa fejn naf jien, mhux qed jingħad illi aħna ser immorru hemm imma li ħa jagħmlu craft ieħor f’dak il-post. Biex immexxi dal-kobor li għandi jien ma naħsibx li hemm spazju biżżejjed fil-Baċir Numru 1. Jien ma nafx sew kif inhu l-post għax rajtu mill-bogħod u ma nafx x’hemm hemm ġew.

    X’tixtieq li jsir mill-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat ta’ Ta’ Qali? Temmen li l-bidliet li qed jiġu ikkunsidrati issa bejn il-GRTU u l-gvern ser jgħinuk?

    Ngħidlek id-dritt ma nafx fuqhiex qed titkellem dwar din tal-GRTU. Sa fejn naf jien il-GRTU ma kellmunix u ma rriferewx magħna dwar xi taħdidiet mal-gvern. Issa jekk ħaddieħor jaf, jien ma nafx. Jiena lili ma kellimni ħadd. Nemmen illi l-GRTU għandha d-dmir li titkellem ma’ kulħadd.

    Staqsejtni x’nixtieq li jsir mill-villaġġ. L-ewwel nett trid tieqaf id-drawwa illi l-pjanti tal-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat jibqgħu jinħadmu fuq dak li hawn bħalissa. Dan il-bini inbena fi żmien il-gwerra u sfortunatament mill-1978 ‘l hawn kull min ipprova jagħmel pjanta, dejjem ipprova jżewwiġha ma’ dak li diġa’ hawn. Anki dan il-proġett li kien hawn l-aħħar kien imfassal hekk. Jiena nemmen li wieħed irid jinsa dak kollu li hawn u jgħid jien ħa nagħmel villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat.

    Żball kbir ieħor fl-opinjoni tiegħi kien dak li tagħmel spazju għall-parking li jkollu  kuntatt mal-ħwienet tal-crafts. Dak dejjem kien l-iżball ta’ kull min għamel il-pjanti t’hawn. Għax b’hekk ovvjament kulħadd ikun irid imurlek ħdejn il-parking area biex it-turist l-ewwel ma jilħaq lilu. Kieku jien il-parking neliminah minn mal-crafts kollu. Minflok nagħmel daħla tipikament Maltija, b’passaġġ li jwassal għall-pjazza li tifrex madwar il-villaġġ kollu. B’hekk it-turist b’daqqa t’għajn ikun jista’ jara ‘l kulħadd u probabbilmet kif ikun qiegħed hemm, jidħol għand kulħadd. U mhux kif qegħdin issa! Kif qiegħed imqassam hawn, hawn fuq ma jitla’ ħadd. In-nies ħdejn il-parking area jieqfu. Jekk ikun hawn mitt ruħ, għoxrin biss jitilgħu ħdejna minnhom. Il-post tant hu mitluq li x’ħin jibdew mexjin ‘l hawn fuq jaħsbu li m’hawn xejn u ma jiġux. Għax m’hawnx x’jiġbdek. Għalhekk huwa neċessarju illi l-pjanta tal-proġett issir bil-ħsieb li t-turist ġie u ra lil kulħadd. Trid tagħmilha li ħadd ma jkun jista’ japprofitta ruħu mill-okkażżjoni. Hawn dik dejjem kienet problema kbira – li t-turist jiġi għand min qiegħed quddiem u għand min qiegħed ftit lura ma jmurx. Insemmi lil xi ħadd li qiegħed ftit passi ‘l bogħod minni – Paul Haber tal-Alka Ceramics. Għalija hu wieħed mill-aqwa artisti li hawn fiċ-ċeramika u l-pottery, wieħed minn dawk il-ftit li veru jaf x’inhu xogħol biex imbagħad it-turisti qatt ma jilħquh. Mhux ħasra? Insostni li l-proġett irid ikun maħsub biex jilħaq lil kulħadd.

    Fuq kollox nemmen li l-proġett għandu jibda miċ-ċokon. Ħalli mbagħad issib oħrajn li jitħajjru għas-sengħa u jiżdiedu mal-villaġġ oriġinali. Hawn post kemm trid għalhekk. Barra minn hekk, irid jiġi impost li dan is-sit jintuża esklużivament minn dawk tal-crafts lokali. U mhux jiġi t-turist u jsib ix-xogħol taċ-Ċina f’villaġġ bħal dak. Sfortunatament għamel żmien meta daħlet id-drawwa bil-ħwienet tal-ħabba gozz, bl-affarijiet magħmulin iċ-Ċina. Kienu għamlu ftit kummerċ fil-pajjiż imma naħseb li llum qed ibatu l-konsegwenzi tal-iżbalji li għamlu qabel. Għax meta xi ħadd jiġi jixtri xi ħaġa ta’ kwalità minn għandek jista’ jerġa’ jiġi darb’oħra. Imma jekk tkun biegħejtlu xi ħaġa inferjuri, żgur li mhux ser tgħaddilu minn moħħu jerġa’ jersaq fil-ħanut tiegħek. Ix-xogħol taċ-Ċina meta tbiegħ dan ix-xogħol, forsi veru għandek iktar qliegħ. Imma mbagħad imorru fuq monti barra minn Malta u jsibuhom hemm ukoll. Issibhom f’kull kantuniera u kullimkien. Huwa fatt magħruf kif jitħallsu dan-nies, kultant saħansitra bir-ross! U x’talent jista’ jagħmel dan jekk ma tħallsux sew? Jekk ikollu talent lanqas jipprova joħorġu għax jirraġuna, għalfejn? Il-bniedem li jitħallas sewwa u jaħdem u jipprova jiżviluppa lilu nnifsu, inti tħallsu u hu lilek iżommok ħaj.

    Fuq kollox idealment, kif dejjem sħaqt, il-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat il-ġdid għandu jiġi ppjanat madwar il-ġnien li hawn f’Ta’ Qali. Hekk jinħoloq ambjent sabiħ u pjaċevoli fejn wieħed jieħu pjaċir jiġi.

    Il-Ministeru tal-Finanzi, l-Ekonomija u l-Investiment sostna illi ħadd minnkhom mhu ser jiġi mġiegħel jitlaq mill-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat ta’ Ta’ Qali. Imma intom tistgħu tibqgħu taħdmu fil-kundizzjonijiet preżenti?

    Le. Hawnhekk hawn bżonn li jirranġa ruħu kif għandu jkun. U kif diġà għedt qabel, m’hemmx għalfejn jintefqu miljuni kbar. F’pajjiżi oħra bħall-Ingilterra, in-nies qed jiġu mħajjra jaqbdu s-snajja’. Imbagħad aħna għandna dan it-talent fil-pajjiż u qed inħallu lil min jaqta’ qalbu, jagħlaq u jmur jagħmel xogħol ieħor kif diġà ġara lil xi wħud li kienu jaħdmu hawn. Mhux sewwa li dawk li jibqgħu irossu sninhom bħali u jippruvaw jagħmlu kuraġġ biex jibqgħu għaddejjin, jitħallew għal rieħhom. Wara kollox villaġġ bħal dan, jekk isir sewwa, ikun ta’ ġid kbir għall-pajjiż kollu.


    INTERVISTA: PERIT CHARLES BUHAGIAR A&CE, MP – Kelliem Ewlieni għall-Infrastruttura u Xogħlijiet Pubbliċi

    X’jidhirlek mill-qagħda preżenti tal-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat f’Ta’ Qali?

    Il-villaġġ ta’ l-artiġġjanat f’Ta’ Qali ra l-bidu tiegħu fis-sittinijiet meta diversi persuni Ingliżi kienu stabilixxew negozji ta’ l-artiġġjant f’bini li qabel kien tas-servizzi Ingliżi li kien jifforma parti minn Ta’ QaliPerit Charles Buhagiar
    Airfield.  Maż-żmien dan il-bini ġie akkwistat minn persuni Maltin u fl-amministrazzjoni Laburista tas-sebgħinijiet, din l-area inbidlet f’dak li hu magħruf bħala l-villaġġ ta’ l-artiġġjanat f’Ta’ Qali jew aħjar Ta’ Qali Crafts Village.  Sfortunatament matul dawn l-aħħar għoxrin sena ftit li xejn sar xogħol ta’ manutenzjoni f’dan il-villaġġ, bil-konsegwenza li hemm ħsarat kbar fit-toroq u abbandun u telqa sħiħa fl-areas pubbliċi. Agħar minn hekk l-imprendituri li xtaqu jimmoderizzaw il-bini qadim tagħhom għas-spejjeż tagħhom, ma tħallewx jagħmlu dan bl-iskuża li dan il-villaġġ għandu bżonn pjan komprensiv.  Dan wassal sabiex anke bini użat għall-artiġġjanat iddetterjora ħafna.

    Kemm taħseb illi dan il-villaġġ jikkontribwixxi għall-valur miżjud fil-qasam turistiku?

    Dan il-proġett jifforma parti integrali mill-prodott turistiku Malti.  Dan minħabba li t-turisti li jiġu jżuruna, ma jiġux biss għall-bahar, għar-ramel u għax-xemx iżda wkoll għall-kultura tagħna.  L-artiġġjant jifforma parti importanti mill-kultura tagħna u għalhekk ħafna turisti jispiċċaw jixtru is-souvenirs tagħhom minn Ta’ Qali. Wieħed irid iżid ukoll li diversi fabbriki li hemm f’Ta’ Qali, saħansitra jesportaw l-prodotti tagħhom li jfisser li dawn il-fabbriki jikkontribwixxu wkoll għall-valur ta’ l-esportazzjoni minn Malta.

    Temmen illi l-proġett f’Ta’ Qali twaqqaf għax Malta ma ngħatatx fondi mill-Unjoni Ewropeja?

    Għal dan il-proġett, il-livell ta’ investiment meħtieġ min-naħa tal-gvern hu limitat biss għall-irranġar tat-toroq u spazji pubbliċi kif ukoll għall-bini ta’ faċilitajiet pubbliċi.  Żgur li dan l-investiment m’għandux jeċċedi l-ħames miljun ewro.  Ma nistax nifhem għala l-gvern qiegħed jirrifjuta li jwettaq dan il-proġett irrispettivament jekk il-fondi jiġux mill-Unjoni Ewropeja meta l-istess gvern lest jonfoq il-fuq minn sittax il-miljun ewro sabiex jagħmel barriera quddiem il-katidral ta’ San Ġwann.

    Taħseb illi x-xogħol tal-artiġġjanat li bħalissa qed isir f’Ta’ Qali jista’ jiġi relokat fil-Baċir Numru 1?

    Xi ħwienet tax-xogħol li hemm f’Ta’ Qali jistgħu jiġu relokati fl-area madwar il-Baċir Nru 1. Però fabbriki li jimportaw il-materja prima bil-containers jew dawk li għandhom makkinarju goff ħafna, mhux possibbli jiġu relokati f’dan il-post minħabba nuqqas ta’ spazju.  Aktar minn hekk,  filwaqt illi li jkollok ħwienet ta’ l-artiġġjanat madwar il-Baċir Nru 1 hi ideja tajba, fl-opinjoni tiegħi dawn il-ħwienet iridu jkunu ta’ artiġġjanat li għandu xi konnessjoni mal-baħar bħal ngħidu aħna: mastrudaxxi li jibnu d-dgħajjes, dawk li jagħmlu l-ħbula, imprendituri li jħitu l-bnadar u l-qlugħ, ħaddieda, eċċ.

    X’tikkumenta dwar il-prijoritajiet tal-gvern fejn għandhom x’jaqsmu l-proġetti kapitali u dawk infrastrutturali fosthom fir-rigward tal-villaġġ tal-artiġġjanat f’Ta’ Qali?

    Bla dubju, fi żmien ta’ riċessjoni internazzjonali, jagħmel sens illi bħal ma qegħdin jagħmlu gvernijiet oħra, il-gvern Malti jinvesti fi proġetti infrastrutturali produttivi.  Għal dan il-għan, il-villaġġ ta’ l-artiġġjanat f’Ta’ Qali jikkwalifika bħala tali proġett.  Min-naħa l-oħra, il-proġetti l-oħra msemmija bħalissa, jiġifieri dak ta’ l-iżvilupp tas-sit tat-Teatru Rjal u dak ta’ Bieb il-Belt, kif ukoll dak ta’ l-estensjoni tal-mużew tal-Kon Katidral ta’ San Ġwann, l-impatt tagħhom long term fuq l-ekonomija huwa inqas.

    X’inhi l-pożizzjoni tal-Partit Laburista rigward dan il-proġett f’Ta’ Qali?

    Il-pożizzjoni tal-Partit Laburista hi li l-gvern għandu jipproċedi bil-kuntratti ma’ l-imprendituri u jagħtihom il-propjetà tagħhom b’titolu ta’ użu għal 65 sena kif diġà miftiehem.  Qabel ma jsir hekk, irid jiġi assigurat li l-bini qiegħed jintuża għall-iskop li ingħata, jiġifieri għall-artiġġjanat u f’każ li dan mhux isir, il-gvern jieħu l-bini lura. Imbagħad dan l-istess bini jista’ jerġa’ jingħata mill-gvern għal skop preċiż ta’ artiġġjanat, preferibilment tat-tip li sal-lum m’hemmx f’Ta’ Qali. Is-sidien tal-bini għandhom jintalbu jirranġaw il-propjetà tagħhom (jekk ikun il-każ) għas-spejjeż tagħhom  fi żmien stipulat u skond parametri preċiżi imposti mill-MEPA.  Il-gvern irid jirranġa t-toroq u l-ispazji pubbliċi u jipprovdi faċilitajiet pubbliċi fejn ma jeżistux.  Ix-xogħlijiet kollha jridu jitlestew fi żmien stipulat.  B’hekk jinbena villaġġ tas-snajja’ li filwaqt li jaqdi l-funzjonijiet ta’ l-imprendituri, jagħmel ġieh lil pajjiżna.

    (Dan l-artiklu ġie ppubblikat fit-Torċa tat-8 ta’ Frar 2009)

    2009.02.08 / no responses / Category: Torca - Perspettivi