time to explore with esplora
local artist pursuing heritage preservation
12 years ago, artist and heritage awareness enthusiast Stephanie Borg embarked on a mission. her mission was to depict all that we as locals tend to take for granted; all that gives the Maltese their character. Following a 10-year absence, Stephanie returned to her home country of Malta, fully committed and motivated.
Inspired by her love for her home island, th nation of colourful vibes and patterns, Stephanie re-awakened her childhood fascination for Maltese patterned tiles. Whilst cement tile-making workshops were closing down as they were no longer profitable, Stephanie came to realise that patterns tiles were suddenly being pulled from old houses and discarded.
She began taking photos of every cement tile pattern she came across. Salvaging them from skips, entering demolished houses, making pleas on Facebook for photos, all in the hope of discovering more and more patterns.
She began featuring the tile patterns in her ink drawings, depicting them as faithfully as possible, determined to bring their beauty back to life again. She wished nothing more than for people to rediscover and appreciate their uniqueness, as well as the work involved in their meticulous handcrafting.
Along with the tiles, the artist also wanted to revive an appreciation for Maltese doors. Their colours, woodwork, ironwork, their distinctive doorknobs and knockers.
In 2011, Stephanie launched a series of original works, focused solely on doors, with each ink drawing demanding no less than 40 hours worth of work. She worked relentlessly to bring the local gems to the forefront.
But she wasn’t done just yet. Since she couldn’t very well bring the tiles back to the floors, she thought of bringing the patterns onto walls, into kitchens, dining rooms, tables, and onto other objects of everyday life. Thus, she created her own line of products and the Maltese door drawings followed suit.
12 years later, cement tile-making workshops are flourishing again on the island, MCAST, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology used Stephanie’s tile collage concept for their 2017 projection onto the Grand Master’s Palace. MaltaPost approached her to design a set of stamps featuring tile patterns and they were even used during some of the Valletta 2018 celebrations.
More recently, her Pop Tile Collection caught the eye of young artists and designers earlier this year, as she paired up with Carisma Collections.
Has her mission been accomplished? Revitalising the forgotten Maltese culture by means of her work has definitely made a significant difference. Her collections have changed the way locals and even tourists, see a Maltese door or tile. Instilling a new-found appreciation for patterns and designs in the younger generations was no easy feat, but Stephanie’s definitely accomplished just that.
According to the artist, however, her work is not done.
Though she believes her work has contributed to reaching some of her initial goals, she shows no signs of stopping. In a world where everything is mass produced and handmade items just aren’t financially sustainable, Stephanie shifts her focus to encouraging others to support other artists and craftsmen.
In this way, traditions can be passed on from one generation to the next, without the risk of pieces of our precious heritage being lost along the way.