St John’s Co-Cathedral is a gem of Baroque art and architecture. It was built as the conventual church for the Knights of St. John. The Grand Masters and several knights donated gifts of high artistic value and made enormous contributions to enrich it with only the best works of art. This church is till this very day an important shrine and a sacred place of worship. It is also a venue for cultural events.
Described as the first complete example of the high Baroque anywhere, St. John’s Cathedral epitomises the role of its original patrons, the Knights of St. John. The Cathedral is testimony to the talent of Maltese military architect Gerolamo Cassar, with Mattia Preti’s intricately carved stone wall designs, as well as the painted vaulted ceiling and side altars with scenes from the life of St. John. The Cathedral also houses one of Europe’s most impressive and famous art works – Caravaggio’s Beheading of St. John the Baptist. The Cathedral was a shrine to the Knights, as many sons of Europe’s noble families from the 16th to 18th centuries lie buried here. Their intricate, marble-inlaid tombstones form a magnificently crafted pavimento. Also a resting place to the founder of Valletta, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Vallette, his tomb lies in the crypt, a quiet sanctuary and place of contemplation away from the busy streets outside.
The National Museum of Fine Arts is located at the lower end of South Street (Valletta) within an area including other fine historical palaces dating from the time of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The area is also well known for its wine bars and cafés and offers little-known breathtaking views of the city’s grid-shaped streets which visitors usually explore on their way to the museum.
Set in a complementing historic building, the museum presents a multifaceted overview of art and artistic expression in Malta from the Late Medieval period to the contemporary. The building was originally one of the earliest to be built in Valletta and served as residence to successive knights of the Order of St John. It was later rebuilt during the 1760s by Fra Ramon de Sousa y Silva, a wealthy Portuguese knight of the Order of St John, and adopted as his private residence. During the early nineteenth century the palace was home to Louis-Charles of Orleans, Comte de Beaujolais during his brief stay on the island followed shortly by his demise. By the 1820′s the palace became known as Admiralty House and was the seat of the Commander-in Chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet. It also hosted high-ranking personalities both as residents and guests. These include Lord Mountbatten of Burma, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George V and Queen Elizabeth of Britain.
The palace was officially inaugurated as the National Museum of Fine Arts in 1974 and has since then been Malta’s most important museum for the arts. Highlights from the collection on display include paintings by leading local and internationally acclaimed artists, precious Maltese silverware, statuary in marble bronze and wood, fine furniture items and splendid maiolica pieces. The collection also includes works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) and Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), Valentin de Boulogne (1591-1632), Jusepe Ribera (1591-1652) and Guido Reni (1575-1642). The large piano nobile halls house works of art from the Early Renaissance to the High Baroque with a focus on the corpus of works by the Italian Baroque painter Mattia Preti. This is the biggest corpus of works by Mattia Preti on display in any public museum.
Transition – The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
The work addresses the idea of remembrance, loss, memory, recollection, transition and death through the notion of the object. These objects were originally photographed at a relative’s home after she passed away. The images combine the Still Life with the Portrait whereby each relative of the deceased is seated alongside the ornaments and objects they inherited.
Drawing on the influence of Renaissance painting and contemporary still life photography this series of images addresses the representation of social issues within the domestic interior such as class, identity and the economy. Placing raw meat and animal body parts alongside everyday objects gives the work a kind of forensic quality and subtle meanings. The dark backgrounds accentuate their shape and form referring back to the approach of Spanish still life.