Times of Malta, 13 September 2010

French and Maltese restoration students are working on the baroque Tal-Ħniena chapel situated on the outskirts of Qrendi.

This forms part of a restoration work camp held by Din l-Art Ħelwa in collaboration with Union Rempart, France.

The chapel, built between 1650 and 1668, is considered an architectural jewel and has been accredited to architect Mederico Blondel, according to the website of Din l-Art Ħelwa.

The main altar is adorned with stone carvings while the 17th-century titular painting of the Virgin of Mercy, seated on clouds and a moon with the Christ child standing on her knee, is attributed to Maltese artist Giuseppe d’Arena.

Bailiff Fra Philipp-Wolfgang von Guttenberg, a Knight of the Order of St John, was one of the main benefactors.

The chapel is being restored under the direction of qualified restorers, who are on hand to explain traditional methods of restoration including the making and application of deffun, plastering and pointing.

Union Rempart and Din l-Art Ħelwa share similar philosophies: to preserve heritage, to restore and safeguard historic buildings, archaeological sites and sites of natural importance and to impart the necessary knowledge to ensure conservation methods are passed on.

Restoration on the Tal-Ħniena chapel began earlier this year to secure the important baroque architectural legacy it represents for Malta.

The project is sponsored by Bank of Valletta.

The idea for the restoration camp was conceived last year by Fabrice Duffaud of Union Rempart and Martin Scicluna, Din l-Art Ħelwa’s vice president, at the 13th International Conference of National Trusts in Dublin.

The camp ends next Sunday.