Notte Bianca Retrospective # 15: The Look Book Part1

Hello everybody!

Please excuse us not updating the blog in the last few weeks. As usual we are extremely busy, combining professional work with our artistic endeavors. We will share the details with you shortly, but today we would like to finally close one of the biggest projects of this year: Notte Bianca 2011. So far, we have presented 13 guestbooks signed by our visitors (12 for each zodiac sign and one dedicated to photography), statistics, links and references. Pictures are the only thing that’s left. Ladies and gentlemen: let us introduce you “The Look Book” – a carefully selected collection of pictures taken during the exhibition surrounded by the luxurious interiors of the Messina Palace!

Messina Palace picture provided by German-Maltese Circle. More information can be found here:

Finding a perfect location is the first rule when you organizing an art exhibition and half of the whole project’s success. The spot must be located in an attractive place (such as the city center for example) and within a walking distance to public transportation. If the building is recognized by the people, it’s even better! We have visited several places before we decided to co-operate with the German-Maltese Circle, owners of the Messina Palace.

Palazzo Messina's main entrance. Picture by Malicia

The places were impressive of course, as Malta has many beautiful buildings and architectural monuments. Yet, Messina had something more than just good looks and convenient position. We were looking for a place with a unique character and long history – and we found there everything that we had hoped to find!

LOCATION: Messina Palace

Messina Interior pictures provided by German-Maltese Circle. More information can be found here:

This impressive building is located at the corner ofSt. Christopher Street(No 141 and 141A) and Republic Street right in the same heart of the capitol city ofValletta. It was built by Fra Pietro La Rocca, Prior of Santo Stefano and the Admiral of the Order ofSt. John. Along with Palazzo Marina (St. Christopher Street No. 143), it was once a part of a Casa Rocca Grande, a colossal villa belonging to the richest people onMalta. In 1864, merchant Count Rosario Messina (1796-1875) of Bagnara inCalabriaand his wife Maria de Ataliottis moved into this house along with their 5 children. Messina Palace remained the family home till 1939 when the countess Lucia Messina, an Italian citizen, left Malta before the outbreak of The Second World War. The building was then turned into a school,  governmental office (Ministry of Education) and finally in 1975, it was sold to German Embassy.

Carved staircase on second floor of the Palace. Picture provided by German-Maltese Circle. More information can be found here:

Today, Messina Palace is the headquarters of the German-Maltese Circle. The rich history of the Palace is clearly visible. Original room composition has been preserved and the visitors can experience how the Maltese noble family lived nearly 200 years ago. Guests usually have access to two exhibition rooms with balconies, a large library, spacious hallways adorned with baroque stone carvings on both sides of the stairs, former ball room that serves now as a conference chamber, private chapel with unique altar made of Carrara marble and to popular Bar and Coffee shop with na open courtyard that was roofed in 1980. Extra rooms (private study and former bedrooms) are exhibited only several times a year.

HOST: German-Maltese Circle

 The organization was created on the 18th October 1962. Their objective is to promote friendship betweenMaltaandGermanythrough art and social events. Members of the organization are not involved in politics. The circle is operated and financed by its volunteers and has 11-person Committee in charge. Its members are elected once a year in January.

Logo of the German-Maltese Circle. More information can be found here:

 Current Executive Committee of theGerman-Maltese Circleis composed of:

President: Mrs. Ingrid Kidder
Vice President: Mr. Simon Alden
General Secretary: Mr. Victor H Sammut
Assistant Secretary: Mr. Victor P. Pace
Treasurer: Mr. Carmel Azzopardi
Assistant  Treasurer: Ms Corinne Gauci
Officer i.c. Courses: Ms Marianne Azzopardi
Corporate Members Representative: Mr. Bernd Ritschel
Members: Mr. Joseph Borg Camilleri, Mr. Omar Grech, Ms Sirka Vella-Facklam
Legal Advisor: Dr Hugh Peralta

Official website:

ARTISTS: Phos Collective (Martin Galea De Giovanni, Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz and Matt Griffiths)

PICTURES: Martin Gallea De Giovanni, Raisa Tarasova and Malicia Dabrowicz.

Main corridor leading to the chapel, with the altar visible in the distance. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

Our exhibition entitled “The Astral Room: A journey through the stars in art and photography” occupied two show rooms on the first floor of the Messina Palace between 1st and15th of October 2011. Before entering, the guests have been welcomed by a poster created by Martin Galea De Giovanni and a sign “Exhibition: free entrance” pointing in the right direction. Nobody could get lost! In the background, you can see the entrance to the first room with Martin’s short stories printed and framed.

Entrance to The Atrium with poster about the exhibition displayed by the door. Picture by Malicia Dabrowicz

THE ATRIUM: The first exhibition room is known as “The Atrium” – The Heart of the house. Originally, it was a lounge for the visiting guests of the Messina Family. Martin and Malicia’s photographs were displayed there: Martin’s works on the left and Malicia’s on the right. You can see the nearly entire room with a visitor standing directly in between the pictures.

A guest is looking at the photographs in the Atrium. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

Another picture shows the entrance to the exhibition room and Malicia’s photographs on the wall. In the bottom left corner you can notice a small desk, where the guest book was placed. It is also visible on the above picture as well.

Another look at The Atrium display. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

Large group of visitors stopped to view the photographs. On the left, Martin Galea De Giovanni is explaining the meaning beind the project.

Group is viewing the photographs. Picture by Malicia Dabrowicz

THE ATRIUM BALCONY: Both exhibitions rooms have balconies; however each of them was created for a different reason. The Atrium balcony is an open one and offers a spectacular view for the guests. The visitors of The Messina family could admire the panorama of the capital city during their stay at the Palace. The balcony was available to our guests as well and many people took the opportunity to see the town at night. Martin was photographed while looking down at the street beneath him.

Martin is looking down. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

The balcony was also a great spot for romantic pictures. A lovely photo shows Raisa and Martin enjoying a quiet moment. A wall of the Palace Marina is just right behind them.

Martin and Raisa standing at the open balcony. Picture taken from The Atrium by Malicia Dabrowicz

The streets below on the opening night looked like the streets of Tokyo! Dancers, street performers, tourists, natives…it was a mad night! Here is the night-time snapshot of the St. Christopher Street taken from the Atrium balcony:

Busy street on the opening night. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

THE SITTING ROOM: The second exhibition room was nicknamed “The Sitting Room” or “The Family Room”. This was the main lounge for the Messina clan and it was decorated with a beautiful 17th century fireplace. The room served two purposes: a whole family would gather here after the meals to talk, entertain themselves by reading books or listen to pianoforte concertos. When a ball or a small dance party was organized in the Palace, the room was turned into a “resting place” for the guests as it is separated from the ballroom by a wall. Food and refreshments were served by the house staff, chaperones were attending the ladies without partners and gentlemen could discuss politics or private matters without being heard or disturbed by the music. Rita and Matt’s ZODIAK series was displayed in this room. On this picture you can see the original 18th century ceramic flooring (golden and ivory tiles), a table with guestbooks in the middle and the fireplace just behind it. There are also two doors in the room. The first door, located next to the fireplace, leads to the main ballroom, the other, decorated with a curtain, leads to a covered balcony connecting the ballroom with the family room.

The interior of The Sitting Room. Picture by Malicia Dabrowicz

Two guestbooks have also been placed on the mantelpiece. We took a close up picture to show you how they looked like in detail. Every zodiac sign has been described at the beginning of the book (the golden pages) and the visitors could familiarize themselves with myths and tales connected with every sign. You can also notice the subtle white carvings on the front of the ceramic fireplace.   

A close up of the guestbooks placed on the mantlepiece. Picture by Malicia Dabrowicz

Many people stopped by the fireplace to take a look at the guestbooks. A photograph shows one of the guests reading carefully the description before adding his comment.

Visitor is signing the guestbook. Picture by Malicia Dabrowicz.

The descriptions however, were not enough for some visitors. They had so many questions regarding the artworks, abstract techniques or used materials that they had to speak to one of the organizers themselves! Martin Galea De Giovanni is seen talking to two guests explaining the meaning behind Matt’s wonderful sketches.

Martin talking to the visitors. Picture by Malicia Dabrowicz.

 All right! This entry is perhaps the longest one we have ever uploaded!

Please return tomorrow to learn more about the amazing ballroom and to see more images showing the crowds of onlookers that visited us!

Thank you for reading

Till then,

Rita, Matt, Malicia, Raisa and Martin

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