Monday, November 26, 2007

The Budget - Grants & Investement

During his budget speech, PM Gonzi has announced a number of measures relating to the cultural sphere. Three measures have particularly caught my attention, namely
  1. the set up of a Film Fund with an initial grant of Lm100,000 (Euro 232,900)
  2. the set up of an Art Fund with an initial grant of Lm100,000 (Euro 232,900)
  3. 0.25 per cent of the expenditure in capital or infrastructural projects must be spent on works of art, infrastructure connected with the creative spheres or on other creative projects
These are definitely positive steps. The fact that we finally have (or will have soon) an Art Fund and a Film Fund will be a big help to Maltese artists. Up until today I could not find any information as to who will be administering these funds, how these funds will be used, how does one apply for them etc. but obviously it is still a bit early. The third point, if administered well, should have a big impact on the art scene in Malta. Just imagine if the same policy were applied to the building of Mater Dei, with a cost of €580 million that would translate into €1.4 million invested directly into the art scene. If I remember correctly a similar measure was introduced during the Great Depression (1920's USA) to sustain artists who were desperately in need of work. Lets hope it will have the same effects here in Malta.
This blog will be definitely following the issues.

Two Harbours - James Vella Clark

Two Harbours is the title e of the main paintings in this forthcoming exhibition. it represent the two selves – our personality as people around us se us and the personality within….the real ‘us’ that we choose to keep to ourselves…..James Vella Clark

Last week saw the opening of James’ latest exhibition titled Two Harbours. I had the opportunity to visit the exhibition during a preview, which gave me time and space to appreciate and mentally digest what I was seeing. I found the artworks quite impressive and the experience stimulating.

Vella Clark, born in 1975, is arguably one of Malta’s leading young painters. His work seeks to capture the essence of traditional Maltese architecture and the rural Mediterranean landscape through an expressionist yet very personal interpretation. Joy, passion, solitude and fear are as much the subject of his paintings as are the narrow streets, the traditional village skyline, rooftops and houses – so that what the scene looks like is still inseparable from what it evokes. James’ landscapes are fast gaining an abstract dimension and yet, the sky still plays an important role in capturing and conveying a whole spectrum of contrasting emotions and states of mind.

This is an exhibition worth visiting, definitely not to be missed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

of Royalties

With interest I have been following the WGA (Writers Guild of America) strike. I have been fascinated by the mega-bucks corporations’ argument that material posted on the net, on which the corporations make loads of money, is just promotional material. Thus no royalties are paid to the people who wrote it. What a load of BS. For those of you who would like to know more have a look at these videos: Tim Kazurinsky on WGN , the writers of The Office, ot the article “Why the Striking Writers Are Right” by Mark Harris.

So, what has this to do with artists in Malta? The whole issue revolves around royalties. Yes its money; that paper stuff that most artists lack. Are artists entitled to a share of what other people do with their creations? Music composers get a share from the sale of CDs; they even get paid royalties if their music is played on radios and TV etc. Writers (even the WGA) also get a share from the sales of their work, and if a story becomes successful and something else is done with it permission is needed. But what about painters, sculptors, graphic artists, photographers etc., are they entitled to royalties too? According to the EU, yes. We artists are entitled to a share of a resale of our work. Ie if a painting I sold 5 years ago is sold today, I am entitled to a percentage of that sale. This was established in Directive 2001/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of the 27th September, 2001 on the Resale Right for the Benefit of the Author of a Work of Art.
The reasoning behind the directive is the following - When someone sells a house (or anything else) he does not expect any share from profits made by the resale of the property say 20 years later. Shouldn’t it be the same for paintings? No. What really contributes to the increase in value of an art piece? Is it some attribute pertaining to the present owner or is it the direct result of what the artist did during his career and who the artist has become after a lifetime of work? For a piece of art to increase in its value from when it was first sold there needs to be some basic conditions namely;
1 – the artist and work of art have to be good;
2 – the artist made a name for himself;
3 – the artist is either dead or at the peak of his career.

So an artist today still contributes to the value of a piece of art he sold 30 years ago! I did some research and discovered the following:-
* The Maltese Government has issued a legal notice in 2006, L.N. 174 of 2006 to implement the directive. While asking around, up until now, I have met no artist or their heirs that know about the legal notice.
* The successors in title, ie the artist’s heirs, are only entitled to benefit from the royalties after 2010 or after 2012 if the minister deems it fit. This means that if a painting is sold today, an artist will get the royalties but if tonight he goes to meet the creator and the painting is sold tomorrow his wife/children etc will not receive a penny.
* Royalties are only due if the resale is conducted by a resale professional; this means artists are not due any royalties if the sale is private, ie only if the sale is conducted through an art gallery or an auction etc.
* The royalty shall be calculated as follows
(a) 0% for the portion of the sale price up to and including euros 1,499
(b) 4% for the portion of the sale price from euros 1,500 to euros 50,000
(c) 3% for the portion of the sale price from euros 50,000.01 to euros 200,000
(d) 1% for the portion of the sale price from euros 200,000.01 to euros 350,000
(e) 0.5% for the portion of the sale price from euros 350,000.01 to euros 500,000
(f) 0.25% for the portion of the sale price exceeding euros 500,000 Provided that the total amount of royalty may not exceed euros 12,500 and the sale prices referred to above are net of tax.
The resale right may be exercised by the holder independently or through a collecting society operating under the conditions provided for in the Copyright Act and regulations made thereunder.
What I am interested to know is how are these royalties being collected and who is collecting them? What sort of mechanisms are there to check that royalties are paid?
I think I need to do some more research.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ghawdex Illum Feature

This feature, by Citadel Video Communications, was aired Saturday 20th October on Ghawdex Illum, TVM. A big thanks goes to the Ghawdex Illum crew for the quality and standard of both the filming and the script.

Artitude Gallery - artistic/ cultural social evenings

Artitude Gallery in Tigne Street, Sliema is now open for artistic/ cultural social evenings every Monday and Thursdays, at 8pm onwards. These events are being sponsored by Delicata wines and entrance is free. These events are aimed at promoting art and culture by raising interest in what contemporary Maltese artists have in store for us and by creating a network of artists from every artistic field.

Kicking off the list of events is the 'Contemporary art (installation and conceptual) discussions' with top contemporary artists like Ruth Bianco making their appearance. Ruth Bianco, who holds a PhD in Fine Art (University College for the Creative Arts/University of Kent at Canterbury, UK), is a visiting lecturer at Universities both locally and in the UK. Her work involves time based and other combined media, installation, video and sound, photography, drawing and research. She shows her work internationally and also teaches private groups in preparation for specialist art studies overseas. (

The public is invited to attend this evening on Monday 26th November to meet and talk with our contemporary artists and discover what they have to offer. For more information, please call Artitude on 21316708 or 99844653.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Clusters - Joseph Farrugia

Last Saturday, at art...e Gallery artist Joseph Farrugia opened his latest exhibition titled Clusters.

The artist has participated in various exhibitions over the past twenty years and his most recent exhibition was held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva in June 2007. Farrugia has taught Art and Art History to Sixth from Students and is currently the director General of the Malta Employers' Association.

The paintings will be on display at art…e GALLERY, Gozo until the 8th of December 2007. for more information you can contact the gallery on 21557911 or 99804774.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Curtain Falls

Last Friday morning I have gone to Gozo to pick up the paintings from art…e GALLERY. “C – an exhibition of paintings” is officially over and now I can concentrate on other things. I really hate dismantling exhibitions, specially after long events such as this. After 5 weeks going to Gozo every weekend I got quite used to it. I just love the island. Maybe I’ll plan another event there.

Talking about events, at the moment I am planning a couple of new projects, one of which will be announced soon, so let me get back to work.


Roots of a Village - diptych - 80x40cm each panel

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Are you a specialist?

Zebbug 60x40 2007

Lately, on two different blogs, one by artist Matt Lamb, the other by Sunil Gangadharan on Art & Perception, the issue if to specialize or to generalize was discussed. What should an artist do, limit his subjects and choice of media or experiment in different directions with different materials and subjects?

On a matter of principal, I do not understand why one has to exclude the other. I think that an accomplished artist needs both in his career; the notion of the Renaissance man still holds, even today. People like Leonardo, Bernini, and Michelangelo etc were capable of being good at more than one discipline, so why not adopt the same approach today?

On a practical level, I realised that I follow certain patterns when it comes to my work. I find myself going through periods of experimentation and then long phases of specialisation. There are two reasons I do this; firstly because at a certain stage I find myself exhausting a particular style/subject so I need to change and secondly if I do not experiment every now and again I am afraid that my work will become stagnant and does not evolve.