Agatha speaks to Michael Vassallo and Peter Vella De Fremeaux regarding an art exhibition for the upkeep of the local church’s heritage
Michael is the president of the “Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Siggiewi,” while Peter is an active member of the same Foundation.
Michael, tell us about the role of the ‘Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Siggiewi’ and its work in the parish.
The Foundation was set up as a continuation of the existing Kummissjoni Patrimonju Kulturali. It was founded on the 22nd of July, 2009 and at present has nine members. The Foundation’s aims and objectives remain to collect funds for conservation projects directed towards the heritage of the Church in the Siggiewi area. We organise and supervise the completion of such projects.
Peter, how did the idea of an art exhibition come around?
During one of the Foundation’s meetings, a number of ideas to raise funds were laid on the table for the members of the committee to discuss. One of these was the thought of holding an Art Exhibition whereby the Foundation could make a percentage on the sales of art works sold. This proposal was very positively received and the first Art Exhibition was held in the Hal Xluq Chapel in 2011. All members of the Foundation’s committee are – in one way or another – art lovers and although their appreciation differs, by and large all the Art Works exhibited were positively commented on by the members of the Foundation. A couple of the members are also artists themselves and have also exhibited some of their works. Siggiewi, being a lovely artistic village, is slowly developing into a residence for a number of artists, and it is thanks to them, and also to a number of well known artists who live outside the village, that the 2011 and 2012 Exhibitions were such huge successes.
Peter, how many artists featured in the exhibition?
This year the number of persons taking part amounted to 26 artists – this includes myself of course – and I take this opportunity to personally thank you, Agatha, both as a member and one of the exhibiting artists, and Alex Dalli, Alexia Coppini, Andrew Borg, Antonio Mifsud, Arlette Zammit, Audrey Mercieca, Carmel Bonello, Carol John Jaccarini, Caroline S. Lawrence, Debbie Caruana Dingli, Frederick Gingell, George Eynaud, Henry Alamango, Hilda Demicoli, Jacqueline Agius, Joanne Fenech Portelli, John Martin Borg, Kenneth Zammit Tabona, Marika Camilleri, Maris Zammit, Marthese Vella, Mary Clare Albanozzo, Tonio Mallia and Winston Hassall. All presented works of art of the highest standard.
Michael, what important projects have been undertaken through such methods of fund raising?
Apart from gaining funds through organised activities, fund raising also includes looking for possible sponsors and reaching out to these interested parties with specific project proposals. Numerous projects have been concluded in this way and include the structural conservation of a number of chapels in Siggiewi and outlying areas. All the paintings inside these chapels were also conserved and include a 15th century panel of The Assumption which remains, historically, one of the most important.
What about further plans?
The Foundation currently has numerous ongoing conservation projects, including the conservation of the Parish’s titular painting of St. Nicholas by Mattia Preti, and the 16th century organ found at Hal Xluq Chapel itself. We plan to foresee the completion of these projects while preparing and raising funds for other conservation projects in mind which include other paintings, the restoration of St Mark’s Chapel facade and the conservation of four large stone statues which adorn the Tal-Providenza Chapel. The Foundation’s work may be followed through its facebook page: facebook.com/pages/Fondazzjoni-Patrimonju-Siggiewi