Tag Archives: culture at Wignacourt

Death at the Wignacourt: Part II – Cosmana Navarra’s Death Mask

The New Year represents a time for renewal, but we should never forget those whose journey has ended.

Cosmana Navarra, born in in Rabat in the 17th century, was the fourth child of Dr Giovanni Cumbo and Cornelia Navarra, and one of the most important benefactors of the Rabat parish church. Her benevolence can still be felt and seen all around the town of Rabat, particularly at St Paul’s church and in the Wignacourt Museum’s collection.

Well esteemed during her life, this wealthy and business-savvy woman lived to the ripe age of 87 and died on 30 January 1687. She was buried in the small chapel within the Rabat parish church, dedicated to San Anton, but her death mask, created to immortalise her image, remains at the Wignacourt.

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 Death masks were used in the Christian culture in the West from the 1400s onwards, and the process to create them was as interesting, and maybe as macabre, as the item itself. Plaster was applied to the deceased person’s face and, once dried, this said plaster would be used as a cast on which the actual death mask would be moulded. Navarra’s death mask is made from bronze and is on display on the first floor of the museum underneath her portrait and adjacent to the mould used to create it.

Death masks were signs of respect and were made to remind future generations – both of how the person had looked, as well as that they had lead an extraordinary life. Amongst the world’s collection of death masks there is one of Napoleon Bonaparte, for example, and while Cosmana Navarra’s story might have not been as intricate or influential in world politics, she has left an ever-lasting mark on the parish of Rabat.

For more information on the Wignacourt Museum and its artefacts you can contact us on +356 2749 4905 or at info@wignacourtmuseum.com.

Hey, That’s The Wignacourt’s Joke!

A new concept in comedy premieres to the general public this Thursday as Hey, That’s My Joke! are set to take the stage at the Wignacourt.

Hey, That's My Joke!

Over the summer, comedy nights at the Wignacourt became noteworthy events, and with Punch Fist Production’sHey, That’s My Joke! performing this Thursday, the tradition is set to continue into the winter. The troupe, made up of some of the best local talent, including Malcolm Galea, Philip Leone-Ganado, Joseph Zammit and Marie-Claire Pellegrini, will be premiering something completely new in comedy that hasn’t been seen or experienced anywhere before, apart from at their own closed-premier just a few weeks ago.

Hey, That's My Joke!

Hey, That’s My Joke! is a quirky twist on stand-up comedy with added elements of improvisational comedy, and surprisingly, it works really, really well,’ says David Chircop, Creative Director at Punch Fist Productions. “Basically, what happens is this: comedians start by performing a short comedy set, then, the audience chooses who they want to perform whose set, and the comedians have to perform each other’s set. They won’t ask any questions, they will just have to do whatever the audience asks.

Hey, That's My Joke!

“That’s where all the hilarity and carnage begins, and I tell you it is a riot. It’s quite special how well these two genres of comedy have managed to blend together, and the Wignacourt just makes it that much better,” continues David.

Hey, That's My Joke!“As a venue, the Wignacourt is quite special for us performers. It’s a new space for us to explore which is not only oozing with history and character, but it’s particularly versatile as well. No wonder it is building such an exquisite repertoire events on its calendar. We are truly excited to be among its ever-increasing number of acts and hope to be as special as the venue itself.”

Hey, That's My Joke!

Hey, That’s My Joke! will perform at the Wignacourt Wine Gardens on Thursday 24 October 2013 from 9pm onwards. Please call on 2749 4905 to book your table.

Mattia and Gregorio Preti’s Return

It is a joyful day for art lovers in Malta as two of Wignacourt’s most important pieces have returned home after a short stay in Turin.

Mattia Preti’s St Publius (ca. 1668-1669) and Oriental Man Holding a Pipe and a Glass of Wine (c. 1635-1640) by Mattia’s brother, Gregorio Preti, have now been returned to the Wignacourt after five months in Turin, where they formed part of the dazzling Il Cavalier Calabrese Mattia Preti tra Caravaggio e Luca Giordano. The exhibition, curated by Vittorio Sgarbi and Keith Sciberras, was held between May and September of this year at La Venaria to honour the 400th anniversary of Mattia Preti’s birth.

The paintings, which are on loan from a private collector, has only recently been discovered and restored, and Il Cavalier Calabrese was their first exhibit outside of the Wignacourt. Both masterpieces were placed in the ‘Volti e Personaggi’ room, in which most of the artwork follows a typical format of a half-length figure depicted within a vertical canvas space.

Oriental Man by Gregorio Preti

Gregorio’s Oriental Man, rather than being an actual portrait, is a typecasting of the men found in the taverns of and around Rome back then, and a similar kind of figure is repeated in another work by Gregorio, Le Nozze di Cana (Rome, Palazzo Taverna di Montegiordano). The painting was created in a late-Caraveggesque manner, in which the chiaroscuro technique was used – the style uses light from the top left of the painting thus illuminating one side of the figure; contrasting the rest of the image.

St Publius by Mattia Preti

Mattia Preti’s depiction of St Publius, however, moves away from this technique, which had become quite popular at the time. Mattia used volto illuminato instead, which is a characteristic that he made use of during his first phase in Malta, to which St Publius dates back to. The same technique can be observed in his portrayal of saints at Sarria Church in Floriana.

Nevertheless, his true genius can be seen in the brush strokes of the drapery and the application of pigment – which are also traits of his early work in Malta. The absence of symbols in the painting, however, has made it very difficult to identify the saint. But the likeness to a depiction of St Publius by Preti at the Church of St Publius adjoining the Wignacourt has led many to believe it is another representation of the saint.

Both artworks are now on display at the Wignacourt along with Mattia Preti’s other work at the museum.

For more information on the artworks or the museum you can contact us on +356 2749 4905 or at info@wignacourtmuseum.com

Good Things Come In Threes

The Wignacourt’s curated tours to the sound of Stalko’s indie music have been so popular they are set to return for the third time on Thursday 17 September.

Stalko curated tours.

Stalko curated tours.

In anticipation of next Thursday’s event, we spoke to some of the recent attendees to discover what exactly made these events so incredibly special.

“There are only positive things that spring to mind when I think back to Stalko’s curated tour of the Wignacourt. The tour was magical from start to finish, with lots of surprises along the way,” Alison Galea, the lead singer of Beangrowers, tells us.

“I had never been to the Wignacourt, so it was an exciting evening. It was a great combination of culture and good, acoustic music, which promised a peaceful vibe to everybody there. Plus, Stalko performed really well in that setting and I was pleased to be a part of it. The Wignacourt Café was a welcoming start and wonderful finish to the perfect evening… I loved it!”

The same feelings were shared by designer Saz Mifsud.

“The stalko event at the Wignacourt was such a unique experience. It is one worth attending as it proved to be the perfect combination of art and music. I have never been to an exhibition which was also a gig,” says Saz. “The Wignacourt is special because when learning about the art on show at the museum, you also learn more about Maltese history. And, as for stalko, their folk melodies blended perfectly with the museum’s ambience.”

Stalko will perform at the Wignacourt and the adjoining war shelters and catacombs on Thursday 17 September 2013 from 9pm onwards, while the Wembley Store Boys will be on stage on Thursday 10 October 2013 from 9pm onwards. To reserve you places for both Stalko and the Wembley Store Boys please call on 2749 4905.

Summer Under the Stars: Thank You!

Now in its fifth week, the Summer Under the Stars series of culture and music has seen the Wignacourt become a stage for stand up comedy by the Wembley Store Boys, a backdrop to the neo-Maltese music of Nafra, a hybrid of history and acoustics for Stalko’s sold-out curated tour, and the setting for the farewell gig by Silver Linings.  

Malcolm Galea

Each of the great events has been a magical journey and, at the Wignacourt, we are tremendously happy to see that our wonderful clientele and friends of the Wignacourt have enjoyed it as much as we have.

It is also with great pleasure that we confirm that, even though summer’s about to come to a close, our cultural nights shall not be ending. Due to overwhelming demand, Stalko will be returning to provide the soundtrack to our curated tours not just this Thursday but also next!

On top of that, the Wembley Boys are also returning on 10 October and we have more great artists and events planned for after that too.

Enjoying summer under the stars

So, for now, all we’d like is: THANK YOU and see you all there!

Stalko will perform at the Wignacourt and the adjoining war shelters and catacombs on Thursday 19 September and Thursday 3 October 2013 from 9pm onwards, while the Wembley Boys will be on stage on Thursday 10 October 2013 from 9pm onwards. To book your places for both Stalko and the Wembley Store Boys please call on 2749 4905.

Wignacourt’s Silver Linings

A singing event by one of Wignacourt’s very own.

The Summer Under The Stars series of culture returns for the fourth week in a row this Thursday with Silver Linings, a group composed of singers Frederica Agius (one of the assistant curators at the Wignacourt) and Stephie Soler, with Josef Cassar on the violin, Peter Farrugia on the cajon, and Analise Cassar helping out with vocals.

“We’re excited to play at the Wignacourt Wine Garden – it’s the perfect venue for an end of summer gig and this will be our last gig for a while as Stephie is leaving on Erasmus soon!” says Frederica, one of the founders of Silver Linings.

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“The Wignacourt has so much potential for gigs, as well as other performance arts, and we’re just happy to be part of it. They have given us a great opportunity to be involved and we hope people will join us for a relaxed evening with some popular songs we love listening to and playing!”

Both Frederica and Stephie are still at university reading for different Bachelors, nevertheless, they have played at a various events and venues – their favourite being a country and Western themed party last year.

They really enjoy doing covers and choosing songs they like playing and listening to, however, as Frederica told us, “we would love to write and play our own stuff and hopefully that will happen in the near future!”

Silver Linings will perform at the Wignacourt Wine Gardens on Thursday 12 September 2013 from 9pm. Please call on 2749 4905 to book your table.

Ray Cortis’ ‘Roots’ – In deep at the Wignacourt

Ray Cortis 2

There is something sinister about Ray Cortis’ work: a sort of magic in the movement, a surrealism in the depiction of his objects, and what seems to be a bottled-up pain that just had to come out. Whatever it is that his work makes you feel, however, one thing is obvious: he is no amateur to the art scene.

Working under the guidance of master Anton Agius, the apprentice has now carved a name for himself. As Ray Cortis told us, “Anton Agius is the person who helped me improve my skills as a woodcarver and even more so as an artist.”

Entitled Roots – due to the fact that Cortis enjoys “working on tree roots, because most of the works are in roots, and last but not least, because roots and trees are interesting material in terms of colours, form and movement” – the exhibition has been at the Wignacourt since July, and has attracted many visitors and much positive feedback.

Ray Cortis 1

Cortis’ work is of the highest quality and innately Maltese. The aim for his endeavors, at least this time round, was to “express human fingers in the most classic of ways, particularly in the depiction of the guardian angel” and for the artist to express himself in “a most poetic and dramatic way.”

In our very biased opinion, he has managed this wonderfully, but don’t take our word for it. Ray Cortis’s Roots is on until the end of September and definitely deserves a visit.

For more information on ‘Roots’ contact us on +356 2749 4905.