Monday 25 May 2020

Perspectives on the Decorative Arts in nineteenth-century Malta:Ornamental drawings, Silver, Jewellery, Marble and Glass

Conveners: Dr Mark Sagona, Dr Roberta Cruciata

The conference Perspectives on the decorative arts in Nineteenth-century Malta, organised by Dr Mark Sagona and Dr Roberta Cruciata for the Department of Art and Art History in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Malta, is the first edition of what is projected to become a bi-annual focus on recent and ongoing research on the multi-faceted nature of the decorative arts.  It is intended to generate greater interest in a fascinating artistic field which has, until recently, been given little academic attention in Malta.  

The Maltese Islands offer ample scope for the research and understanding of decoration and ornament which is present in a myriad of media ranging from silver to glass.  The decorative arts exist in abundance in different forms and this is an area of art-historical study which is still in its infancy in Malta.  One of the aims of the conference is also to underscore the importance of the decorative arts within the larger local and international artistic contexts.  

The study of the field of the decorative arts in the Department of Art and Art history is spearheaded by Dr Mark Sagona who has, in recent years, pioneered research in the subject.  It has now become an independent area of study within the Department and several research projects have been or are being undertaken.  In 2012, Dr Sagona introduced for the very first time at the University of Malta a study-unit dedicated to the decorative arts and in 2015, together with Francesca Balzan, also offered a similar course within the University’s Programme for the Liberal Arts and Sciences.  

For this conference, Dr Sagona has teamed up with a long-time collaborator of the Department, Dr Roberta Cruciata from the Universita’ degli Studi di Palermo, to bring together local and international scholars and researchers who will share aspects of recent and ongoing research on ornamental drawings, silver, jewellery, marble and glass.  Dr Cruciata knows Malta very well and has worked on a doctoral thesis on Sicilian decorative arts for Malta. The theme of the conference for this year is the nineteenth century and is intended to highlight the important developments in the production of ornamental drawings, in the creation of silver artefacts, jewellery, works in marble and glass.  The conference will also pave the way to future research through the introduction of new themes.  

The six speakers include Dr Mark Sagona, Dr Roberta Cruciata, Prof Roberto Zanon from the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, Ms Francesca Balzan from Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, Ms Alaine Apap Bologna, a veteran researcher of Maltese silver, and Ms Jessica Muscat, who is concluding her M.A. thesis on marble production in Malta.  

The conference will take place on Thursday 2nd May 2019 and will kick off at 5pm at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura at St George’s Square, Valletta, with a brief address by the Head of the Department of Art and Art History, Prof. Keith Sciberras.

The conference is being organised with the collaboration of HoASA, the History of Art and Fine Arts students association.  

Queries: [email protected] 

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