[WATCH] Nine-metre 'airship' to grace Bormla's pier

Artist Matthew Pandolfino has been working on the dgħajsa tar-riħ structure for three years after his proposal won a competition in 2016

Artist Matthew Pandolfino and his metal structure Dgħajsa tar-Riħ. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Artist Matthew Pandolfino and his metal structure Dgħajsa tar-Riħ. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Artist Matthew Pandolfino and his nine-metre airship

Dgħajsa tar-riħ is a massive nine-metre long metal structure, weighing three tonnes, comprising of a dgħajsa tal-pass (water taxi) and a zeppelin.

The structure is the brainchild of artist Matthew Pandolfino and will be installed at Bormla's Dock 1 next April.

Pandolfino has been working on the structure for three years at the J. Lautier metallurgy workshop in Qormi after winning, along with five other artists, a competition sponsored by the government in 2016.

"I love Bormla. This structure is an amalgamation of Bormla's air and sea history," Pandolfino said as he explained how thousands of water taxis were used in Bormla to transfer people and cargo during the British rule.

The structure is inspired by the water taxis that ploughed their trade in Bormla. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
The structure is inspired by the water taxis that ploughed their trade in Bormla. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Pandolfino said that Dock No. 1 had also been used in the 1920s for the building of airplanes but this eventually encountered issues of humidity. 

It's this historical detail that inspired Pandolfino.

"The structure will be kinetic so that people will be able to interact with it. I want it to become a landmark eventually," he said, adding that the skeletal structure might get lost in the area but that the metal skeleton will be quite at home close to the dockyard. 

The former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff's memorial is also installed close by and will soon be accompanied by the "Dgħajsa tar-riħ."

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said that the 2016 competition will be repeated this year and that deadline for submissions is 12 April. 

Artists have to collaborate with local councils and come up with an idea of an artistic piece together, both in terms of logistics and local culture. 

The artist won a competition in 2016 for street art projects. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
The artist won a competition in 2016 for street art projects. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

A total of €30,000 will be given to each of the six artists chosen to work on the project. 

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said that this competition increased the quality of art in the country, the accessibility of the artworks and the promotion of the artists.

"This project meets these three aims. It is competition-based so the quality increases. The art is accessible because it will be installed in a public place and it is promoting the careers of these artists. We want to see people take photographs with artistic pieces of our local artists around the island," he said.

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