Due to lockdown and physical distancing measures, living heritage has been greatly impacted. The Gabriel Caruana Foundation, where I work as a Curator and Co-creative director, operates and runs a contemporary artistic programme from a 300-year old Schedule 1 windmill in Birkirkara. It was converted into an Arts, Crafts and Cultural Centre by the late Gabriel Caruana, one of the pioneers of local modernist art and ceramics in 1990.
Together with my colleague Raffaella Zammit (Co-Creative Director and Programme Manager), we were preparing to celebrate The Mill’s 30th anniversary and its legacy on the 22nd of June. Although we might not be able to open The Mill’s doors on the date, we have been launching several initiatives to encourage community members to participate and prolong the memories associated to its use such as ‘The Many Faces of the Mill’ where we have invited local illustrators to illustrate different elements of The Mill, in turn acting as a fundraising activity and also a means of generating income for artists during these hard times.
We are also going to be launching a Community Call, where individuals and groups will be able to send in their photos, memories and stories associated to The Mill, which will in turn help us in documenting the development of The Mill throughout the past 30 years. The feedback so far has been great and the engagement through our website, Facebook page and Instagram is enriching. This aside, on the 16-17th of May, we were originally going to celebrate Ceramic Art through the participation in Buongiorno Ceramica - a ceramics festival held in Italy.
The extraordinary edition will be held online and although we will not be able to host artists’ work at The Mill, we have asked them to send in videos of their work and their studios. We will also be collaborating with national institutions who will do the same with national collections.
An NGO will also be gathering documentation on ceramics found in public spaces. Although many limitations have been imposed on the cultural and creative sectors in general, a lot of work has been done to adapt and to keep the sector alive.
We have seen initiatives by our colleagues in the sector as well, attempting to adjust in order to keep connections and networks alive.
Generally, May would have seen the start of the typical local ‘festas’ in each town and village, which have all been canceled for this year leaving numerous amounts of contributors and volunteers helpless since they generally dedicate numerous hours to prepare.
Heritage sites, museums and places of cultural interest have been closed, however local national bodies such as Heritage Malta are doing a great job with online streaming of for example the equinox and virtual displays of the museums - increasing accessibility.
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