(see comments on Mistra Village development below)

Times of Malta, 27th June 2008, by Fiona Galea Debono 

Architect and artist Richard England is putting up an exhibition of just over 100 exhibits, in collaboration with photographer Patrick Fenech, at the Tourism Ministry in Valletta as part of the Malta Arts Festival.

Architect as Artist includes paintings, drawings and architectural designs, both completed and not, and even a poem. They were created over decades and not just for the exhibition. It could be described as retrospective.

The exhibits also show Prof. England’s works in progress, such as the Dar il-Ħanin Samaritan headquarters in Sta Venera, which is currently under construction, and a church project in Ħal-Farruġ, which is still in discussion phase with the ecclesiastical authorities.

Prof. England’s works have been divided into sections, including Arcadias; In Search Of Sacred Spaces; L’Architettura Interrotta on projects that had been designed by never happened, “like something called the Royal Opera House”; completed works; as well as drawings of Malta, Viaggio in Italia and other destinations; and concept drawings for architectural works.

Speaking about his art, Prof. England, however, could not refrain from commenting about the current state of the country from the development and environmental point of view. The Malta Environment and Planning Authority, he said, has managed to do something no one can do – irritate absolutely everyone, including developers, architects and buyers.

He said that even developers have been pricked and are taking their business, which is a major industry in Malta, elsewhere.

Referring to the “crazy” amount of tall buildings around, he categorically stated that the Mistra development, for example, was a “mistake – you cannot build a tall building on a hill; you would try to build into it,” he said, pointing out that it was going to stand out like a sore thumb.

“While a whole hoo-ha was made of a little nightclub, which was not the best of things, down in the valley, a capital catastrophe was going on 200 metres away and no one did anything about it,” he commented, expressing his bewilderment.

Prof. England’s last exhibition on such a scale was in 2002. It is being organised jointly with Mr Fenech’s The New Eye Of Osiris, the theme of which is boatyards and boats.

For the last 26 years, Mr Fenech has used his camera for what has been called absorptive scrutiny, composing a dizzying tapestry of composite photographs as part of his ongoing investigation of the local, ethnic boatyard and Malta’s maritime history.

The exhibition will be inaugurated by President Emeritus Guido de Marco on July 2. The Malta Arts Festival, organised by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, runs from July 1 to 17.