Letters: 30 August 2015

The glory of womanhood

For a moment, I thought that J. Guillaumier had declared a ceasefire which could perhaps make him eligible for God’s forgiving grace – with the ensuing peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control, love and joy, but no, he prefers to vent his spleen passing vile comments and exposing toxic misogyny.

I cannot conceivably fathom what satisfaction and pleasure he could derive by antagonising himself so forcefully and insultingly against womanhood.

Without any pretence of reaching the heights of his inspired tirade against women, I’ll just pass on a comment:  

Whilst in the Old Testament women were a figure of weakness they were redeemed by our Lord spiritually and socially. By His special care and attention, especially through His Mother, Christ has become a special saviour of womanhood. Such is the ethereal dignity of women that one of them, the new Eve, is now elevated to the unique privilege of being the Mother of God!

And please don’t tell me that She never lived her earthly life as the skeptics used to maintain about Christ’s historic existence.

John Azzopardi, Zabbar

Pets on Virtu Ferries

I have been working in Sicily for some eight years. Thanks to Virtù Ferries not only do I get to see my family on a regular basis, travelling in comfort without the slightest hassle, but I also enjoy my pet dogs wherever I am.

Bobby has now passed away at a grand old age. To the very end he would join me in Sicily whenever the family came over. Patch, my devoted companion in Sicily, comes with me to Malta whenever I join the family there – I wouldn’t dream of leaving him behind.

Whether in the car or in a cage, Bobby and Patch, both very large dogs, have always received an excellent service from the Virtù Ferries crew. Thank you all.

Denis Bartolo, Via email

Application for fireworks factory

On behalf of the Mellieha fireworks group, known locally as Ghaqda tan-Nar Marija Bambina, I would like to clarify certain inaccuracies in the article ‘Mellieha farmers fear fireworks time-bomb” (MaltaToday, 30 August) and also on the online edition, while at the same time clarifying other points.

The Mellieha fireworks group has every right to apply for the necessary permits to build a fireworks factory for the manufacture of fireworks for the feast of Marija Bambina, held every September in Mellieha. This locality, which is the second largest in Malta area-wise, does not have a fireworks factory and we believe it is within our right to apply to construct such a complex. Fireworks in Malta are an integral part of the religious feast celebrations, with the feasts in themselves being a unique aspect of Maltese culture.

The application for a fireworks factory should be judged against the new policy published recently by the government. The Mellieha group are not expecting special treatment from the authorities but simply to have their application judged on the same criteria applicable to other existing fireworks complexes.

At the time of submission of the application to MEPA, the surrounding fields were not agricultural fields but rugged terrain. There is photographic evidence that show how the area stood at the time of the application, in photos which were taken during a MEPA site visit three years ago. We are conscious of the fact that there are now farmers plying their wares next to the land in question, but this was not the situation back then, when we applied for a permit.  

The Mellieha group is appealing to the local authorities to conclude their studies and assessments so that a decision on this long standing appeal is resolved once and for all. We would also like to thank the community of Mellieha for their support in our cause over the years. 

Trevor Vella

Secretary, Ghaqda tan-nar Marija Bambina, Mellieha

A Malta asset envied by the world

The set of 17th century Flemish tapestries of the St John’s Co-Cathedral Museum is the largest complete series of tapestries in the world and covers a total area of 730m² with a length of 120 running metres. The 29 tapestries of the collection measure 6.3 metres in height and 6.2 metres in width for the most part. They are also the tallest ancient tapestries ever to be woven.

Ordered by the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, R. Perellos y Roccaful, they are mostly woven after cartoons by P.P. Rubens, the artist who probably left the most indelible mark on baroque art in the whole of Europe. Many of the compositions of this wall hanging, such as the Crucifixion, the Adoration of the Magi, the Triumphs of Caritas, Faith, Eucharist etc., are among the most representative icons of this master’s art. 

This series was intended to decorate the chancel and the nave of the Co-Cathedral on specific occasions. The aim was to create an overwhelming effect on the faithful through its sheer dimensions, its colours and its exceptional baroque style and vigour, and leave a lasting impression on the congregation. 

At the end of the 20th century, the tapestries were in a disastrous condition, with tears and large gaps in the perished silks and in the corroded brown wools. Exhibited in wretched conditions in the Cathedral’s museum, with practically no room for viewers to stand back and admire the qualities of the artwork, the tapestries were pitiable to see, whereas the donor’s aim was exactly the opposite. 

Since that date, a huge conservation campaign on the initiative of the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation has been undertaken and I had the honour of conducting it. It will be completed in January 2018. On that date, Valletta will be the European Capital of Culture and all eyes will be focused on the city.

The question that should be asked is what might be the role and consequently the importance of this wall hanging for Malta, its citizens and its economy? 

Malta cannot merely evoke a picture of sunshine, beaches and summer pleasures. Malta is a nerve centre, where Europe and the East come face to face, as represented by the Order of Malta; it has considerable cultural potential. This is increasingly what visitors to the island are looking for and Malta can develop its attractiveness and find its true place on the map of Europe by promoting these unique cultural qualities. 

If Malta is to consolidate this cultural profile, the country needs strong images that make it immediately recognisable in the other countries of Europe. Among those images, the Cathedral’s Rubensian wall hanging could be at the forefront in playing a prominent role; unfortunately, it has been completely forgotten because of the poor condition in which it was left.

This gigantic work of art of the first rank has such a potential attractiveness for the public that it may be placed alongside two others of Malta’s artistic highlights, the Co-Cathedral’s baroque decoration and the two paintings by Caravaggio. There is no doubt that all the 29 tapestries hanging side by side over a perimeter of 120 metres will leave quite a unique impression in the world.

This grand series can become one of the key elements in the country’s cultural landscape and an asset envied by the world. 

There is, of course, a prerequisite, and that prior condition is to be able to exhibit all the 29 pieces at the same time as was imagined at the outset by the Grand Master. It is the only way to obtain that overwhelming awesome effect on the public which the Grand Master of the Order of Malta wished to achieve. 

The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation has put forward plans to extend and refurbish the museum. I can only advocate that it should be possible for the future museum to exhibit the entire wall hanging and for sightseers to step back and appreciate this series of outstanding tapestries.

Such a decision would do honour to the basic concept that underlies their creation and so make it possible once again to captivate a larger audience and enrich the country’s cultural profile.

Yvan Maes De Wit

President of De Wit Royal Manufacturers of Tapestry, Belgium

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