Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Verdala Palace Visit

In 1586, Grandmaster De Verdalle built the Verdala Palace, which is now the official summer residence of the President of Malta. It is surrounded with woodlands of Buskette. which was used by the Knights for game hunting. 
It is surrounded by a stone ditch which was enlarged and modified throughout the years due to several Grandmasters. The building is spread over two floors of which each corner has a tower five stories high. 

 This grandfather clock is typical of the victorain era. It is made out of wood, and the face of the clock seems to have gold colours.

This Armchair was typical of the 17th Century 
 This showcase displays a set of china plates.
It's gorgeous desing resembles the grandfather clock
with its solid wood and decor in certain places of the showcase.
 This small table is highly decorated with goldleaves
and a shiny black granite top. It's desing reminds you of something Renessance. 
 This fresco shows two angels in the sky, refining the idea of Christianity.

 Much like the small table, this dresser is highly adorned with the 
same style in goldleaf and patten. It also has the same black marble as a surface. 
 This image was taken to show the heigh of each room in the palace. It shows how well decorated the place used to be.

Harry Alden - Maltese artist

Mgarr, Malta

  • Amongst many of his siblings, Alden was born on the 15th December 1929, Malta. He had two hobbies that he pursued as a young lad, soccer and art, but there came a time when he could no longer play soccer, so he focused all his leisure time on art. Soon after he began attending a governmental art school; to which he had some academic problems. 
  • At the age of 10, World War II broke out and havoc broke loose on his family as many other Maltese families had. They had to pack their bags and leave home. They moved from Valletta to Marsa and from Marsa to Mgarr. The change of location probably effected young Alden from the drastic changed of a busy life in a town to the quiet life of a countryside of the small town. Surrounded by a mass of fields and valleys, fascination struck Alden as he fell in love with the way the town's folk lived. It was those quiet moments in Harry Alden's life that he represented and painted later on. During the war his older brother, George, helped him suffice his artistic talent by mimicking the film starts that they so highly admired.After the turmoils of the war were finally over, the Alder family settled down in Sliema a hugely chaotic town, even back then!
  • He then furthered his studies in England at the age of 33. He attended the Croydon College of Arts in Surrey (UK). Upon returning back to his homeland in 1966 he began to scout schools and teach the arts wherever he went. 

"Self Portrait"  1968
  • This painting struck out to me because at first glance I miss took him for Edgar Allan Poe, but then realising that its actually the artist himself, I enjoyed the style to which he uses. The colour gives the whole composition an overall sadness, although his expression seems to be muffled by the harsh lines in his Pop-art like style, there is no definition of his mouth or around the eyes. Therefore this effect has an overall gloomy feel. The colours to which he uses are very green and cold, but he also has added reds and purples, and the way they are forming up from the bottom half of the painting to the face of his own portrait seems to resemble way typical Maltese fields. Perhaps he feels nostalgic about his childhood house in Mgarr. 

"Behind a Glass Plane" 1990
"The Wooden Blind" 1996

  •  Apart from these two paintings being both nudes, they have one thing in common, the censoring. In the first nude portrait, Alden is viewing the female body from behind a glass, therefore making the image itself almost distorted. This effect is done by the way he painted over the figure, changing certain colours to the reflection of the glass. On the other hand, the two women from the second painting seem to be more at ease, they are relaxed, but they are covered by the wooden blind. This automatically gives you the impression that Alden has painted through a window, leaving the outside world alone, by just focusing his view on the image within the window itself. The bright colours in the background differ from the colour scheme of the first portriat because they are much brighter and full of life. It almost has a hidden fauvist feeling or cubist, because of the placement of colours and such. 


Emmanuel Fiorentino, 2003. Harry Alden IX, Printed in San Gwann in collaboration with Bank Of Valletta. 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Japanese Architecture

  • Most traditional Japanese buildings were built out of wood, but a series of changed took place throughout time that changed the way architectures built their heritage. In the beginning, Asian houses were inspired by their natural surroundings. 

  • The first houses to be built were done so by people who were mostly hunters, this period is called Jomon Period. These houses were usually make of straw, much like the African huts, although the floor of these houses were somewhat hollow.

  • Shrines were then built to practice their Buddhists religion. Throughout the ages the shrines became more and more decorative. Thus began the shock in using red on buildings. 

  • As it was in the West, castles were built to show lordship or one who is of a higher status than the other common men of Japan. The castles used to be built out of wood, but the few best that survived are made of ferro concrete. Their styles remind you of typical Japanese buildings, the ones you see in movies. Their structure is very similar to that of a Temple. With pointed and slanted roof tops. Windows seem to have little to none decoration at all. On the whole, Japanese castles and Japanese landscapes are a perfect painting (or woodblock print) in the waiting.

Japanese Cuisine

  • Here's a little bit of historical art that will probably make your mouth water:
  • Rice was first introduced to Japan in 400 BC by Koreans that traveled. Rice then became essential for making paper, wine fuel and other materials. Tea and chopsticks were later introduced to Japan by Chinese tradesmen. 
  • Since the main religion in Japan was Buddhism, in the 500's; hardly anyone ever ate meat, leaving fish as a substitute source for protein. 
  • Sushi was originally useed as a way of preserving fish in fermented rice. The fish used to be mainly fresh water fish, from lakes or rivers, so only the few people that lived alongside these rivers used to partake in preserving fish. But the custom spread, and soon enough almost all of Japan were partaking this practice. It was not until the 15th to the 19th Century that sushi was then wrapped in Sashimi. 
  • When the ports were finally open to the Western world, their Emperor finally allowed the custom of eating meat in public. And although their natural food may seem blend and tasteless as its just vegetables, it still has been a major influence to most of our Western food. 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Textiles in the Japanese world

  • Up until the 1600's, the townsfolk of Japan wore hemp clothing which was locally grown. Then Japan imported raw cotton from China and began to grow their own cotton farms in the warmer areas of Japan where cultivation works best. Spinning your own cotton became a very common thing to do with the house wives of rural Japan. In relation to the West, Japan began their milling factories much later, but the woman of Japan preferred to spin their own clothing just the same. 

  • In the Northern Isles of Japan, the women recylcled the cotton fabrics by putting layer upon layer and using a Sashiko stitch to hold the fabrics in place. Therefore the garments produced were normally for colder reigons and the people welcomed the softness of the cotton. But other than garment, the women also produced textiled based decor four their houses. 


Kimonoboy's. A short history on Japanese Textiles  [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 19th may 2014].

Japanese Vases

Typical Japanese Vase

  • Amongst other Japanese decor, the vase is the one most found in  households. They vary in shape, size and style. But they all seem to have that one aspect that bounds them to the style of the eighteenth century. Although, the Japanese vase seems to have been an inspiration to the Victorian style of Vases.

  • Most Japanese vases have pictures of birds or landscapes (much like most of their indoor decor) Others have elaborate scenes with people and landscapes. Another common thing that i noticed was that most vases come in sets of two. And although these two vases are of a set, they might not be identical. But still they have the same colour scheme. Soft blues are usually found in vases, as well as browns and light greens. 
Japanese vase with people and landscapes

Japanese Vase with bright blue.
  • Compared to the Victorian vases, the Asians have a more simpler design to the vase itself, whilst the Victorian vases are more elaborate, with handles and such. Also, Japanese vases are much larger in size compared to the Victorian vases.
    Typical victorian Vase

Images were found from google.

The ancient art of Woodblock Prints

  • The traditional art of Woodblock prints began in the eight century, but was then known world wide in the eighteenth century when trade opened for Japan. 

  • To make the blocks, the artists use a purposely natural wood, cherry, that can withstand moist conditions and prevent worpage. 
  • The idea is to carve out a series of reliefs upon the wood which would then have the wet pigments used to press out the mass of colour which is a feature key in their prints. The blocks would vary from style of high relief to low relief, including the aspects of colour or outline. Usually the blocks of wood that would be used to give the colour to the wood would usually have a loose grain and softer wood so it absorbs more of the pigment. 

  • The paper use to preserve these beautiful prints are also important. The traditional paper used is called Mulberry which is important because the paper becomes flexible, absorbent, and light weight. Genuine block printswould show the chain-lines of the paper.

    chisels used to create the engravings on the wood

    brushes used to add pigment to the blocks

    example of wooden block print with relief.

John Fiorillo 1999How is a Japanese print made?  [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 19th May 2014].