Malta launches project for the London Design Biennale

Malta launches project for the London Design Biennale

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Open Square, the team behind the project, is an art and design collective consisting of four members: Alessia Deguara, Luke Azzopardi, Trevor Borg, Matthew Joseph Casha as well as two support members - veteran journalist Ramona Depares on communications and Gilbert Micallef as external advisor on all financial matters

The installation will enjoy a prominent showcase during the Fourth London Design Biennale at Somerset, in London between the 1 and 25 Giugno

Conceived through a fusion of art, architecture and innovative design, Urban Fabric is a large-scale installation informed by contextual research and a deep-rooted appreciation of the need for sustainable design.

Commissioned by Arts Council Malta, Urban Fabric re-contextualises the traditional Maltese village core and merges two separate elements – traditional city planning and the Phoenician-Maltese tradition of fabric production and dyeing. The installation is in accordance with the artists’ ethos of recyclability and eco-consciousness. 

The installation uses as its source material documentation about how the Phoenicians used to dye wool and linen garments using (mainly) two types of sea-snail species which are common along the Mediterranean shores – the Murex trunculus and the Murex brandaris. The installation piece draws on eco-friendly methods as an alternative to ancient practices. This research was carried out at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, where the team retraced the footsteps of the Phoenicians, experiencing the fine fabrics and artefacts of the time and using this experience as foundation. 

“Thus, Urban Fabric strives to encourage discourse about the environment by presenting a well-researched, thought-provoking creative installation that combines aesthetic and spatial awareness with activism,” said executive chairman Albert Marshall at the launch. “Arts Council Malta is also the commissioner for Malta’s entry for the Venice Biennale, which we have once again taken up in 2017 and are now in its 3rd consecutive edition of our participation, the London Design Biennale was the next natural step for us to tap into, for the benefit of our local artists and creative practitioners.” 

Open Square, the team behind the project, is an art and design collective consisting of four members: Luke Azzopardi, Trevor Borg, Matthew Joseph Casha and Alessia Deguara. These four professional artists are known and respected names on the local and international artistic circuit, having already collaborated on high-profile projects. 

Each specialised in their respective field – ranging from architecture to visual art, spatial design, textile/fashion design, project management and creative direction – together they drive the Open Square collective. 

“We are honoured and excited to be representing Malta for the first time at this prestigious event. The concept that informs this installation is something we all feel strongly about, that of providing an ‘urban’ space that changes and evolves with the regionality of its surroundings, thus allowing its quality and essence to come through more easily than it does through the concrete structures currently growing within the Maltese landscape,” stated the team. 

The team also includes two support members – veteran journalist Ramona Depares on communications and Gilbert Micallef as external advisor on all financial matters. 

Speaking at the launch, Minister Owen Bonnici made reference to the importance of Malta’s participation to such a prestigious event. 

“Through such efforts, we’re continuing to fulfil our mission to further expose our local cultural and creative industries on an international platform. The participation at the London Design Biennale is a first for our country, and such a large-scale significant event will serve as a showcase for our artistic and creative sectors, whilst also strengthening our designers’ profile on an international level,” said Minister Bonnici. 

The Fourth London Design Biennale will be held between the 1 and 25 Giugno 2023.The installation will enjoy a prominent showcase during the Biennale at Somerset, in London. Audiences in Malta will also be able to engage with the installation via an online portal. This project is commissioned by Arts Council Malta, within the Ministry for National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government.

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