Immortalising a Cultural Treasure

Posted by & filed under Graphic, Photography.

Back in 1994, Rev. Kan. John Ciarlò described Valletta’s Collegiate Church dedicated to the Shipwreck of St Paul in Malta, as “a Hidden Gem”, in an effort to portray the unique treasures that lie within. Much on the same lines is the recent release from Miranda Publishers. Following the success of previous publications about St John’s Co-Cathedral and the Mdina Cathedral, Miranda entrusted photographer Daniel Cilia, an avid follower of the annual February celebrations, with the challenge.

The end result: collected in two hard-back books is some exquisite photography of fine art treasures within the Church but also an immortalisation of various singular moments of this national winter celebration as it happens in Valletta. 176 pages and more than 500 pictures supported with writings from Robert Cassar and Ray Bondin.

redwhite spoke to Daniel Cilia about this latest production. He described how his personal love to this event did help him think of innovative ways in which to capture moments.

“Also since the books (especially the feast one) were done on a number of years it helped me get photos of the ones I had missed the year/s before.”

In his photography, Cilia works in ‘previsualising’. He thinks of new perspectives for a shot before it actually happens as in the case where he climbed up one of the old lamp posts (now replaced) in St Georges Square, to shoot the statue as it passes in front of the main door of the Grandmasters’ Palace. When such experimentation works, it does make all the difference.

The project started off in 2007, yet unfortunately that year the procession got cancelled because of rain. Most of the shots were snapped in 2008 but since publishing was being postponed, some shots were updated with new ones from the years after.

In the meantime, Cilia worked on the layout, choice of photos and design through a continuous discussion with Eddie Aquilina from Miranda. When asked what makes him opt for a book rather than an exhibition, Cilia told us:

“Well I like to exhibit my work, yet its always so sad when one has to put down an exhibition. I like to say that a photographic book is a bit like a portable exhibition which never finishes to be seen.”

The book is on sale from major bookshops at the price of €100. Whilst we encourage the purchasing of such exceptional projects, it is sad to note that such a price deserved a better printing finish. This is underlined further as no printer is indicated anywhere on the books. Another dent is the choice and use of typography. Further research into the selection of type could have boosted the aura of this excellent work in documentation.

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