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Featured Artist - Anthony P. Vella   Print  E-mail 
Submitted by Artissa Administrator  

By E. V. Borg

TROGLODITI.JPGTRASFIGURAZIONE.JPGAnthony Patrick Vella (1961-) is soft spoken, gentle and kind. He is immersed in art and design. His artistic language is eloquent with a lyrical and poetic element and imbued with rhythm and a musical harmony. His dialectic expresses an atmosphere of serenity, tranquillity, placidity and peace. His yearning for contemplation and meditation might spring from an inner well of profound religious conviction with an irresistible attraction for spiritual transcendence. Though figurative he balances forms in space with structural design. There is a slight surface tension similar to that of a sheet of water. His expression results from actual experience gained on the drawing board during his career as a graphic designer.

ARMONIA.JPGAnthony P. Vella was born in Valletta in 1961 and brought up in Republic Street near the premises of the Malta Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (MSAMC) where he attended for drawing lessons in his teens (1974-77). His father Michael (1905-67) was a talented clarinet player who played for the King’s Own Band Club in Valletta. Known popularly as Mike he loved jazz and classical music. Anthony lost his father quite early and was lovingly brought up by his mother Rose nèe Micallef (1925-2007) lately deceased in May this year. His parents used to take Anthony to the Argotti Gardens where his love of open spaces and nature bloomed and flourished. Anthony remembers distinctly his joy watching crowds of people walking up and down Republic Street from a balcony window in his house in the Porto Salvo parish, a scene that has inspired him ever since.

AFRICA.JPGThe background of his studies and career reveal the nature of his expression. He attended the Architect’s Assistant and Draughtsman course at the Technical Institute, Naxxar and a Design course at the School of Art and Design (1981- 84) and concurrently worked at the design studio of Frank Portelli (1922-2004) whose letter of reference praises Anthony’s accountability and industrious nature. Anthony then travelled to Sicily working for a two-year period with Nuccio Lo Castro (1954-), a well-known architect at Santa Agata di Militello. Anthony gained practical INTRECCIO.JPGexperience at the Museum of Etno-Antropology at Nebrodi, province of Messina. His work experience with Lo Castro consolidated his own vision about museum design: mainly that museums should serve not only as an educational establishment or simply a place housing a collection of art objects but also as an enclave of contemplation where one’s thoughts can run wild. In 1988 Anthony married Maria Rita Paternò an acquaintance he met on one of NOZZE DI CANA.JPGhis visits to Sicily. They have two children Maria Roberta (1990-) and Simona (1994-). In the summer of 1988 Anthony found employment at the firm of Raniolo &Bencini, Architects and Civil Engineers till 1991. Then he became art director to Paxton Advertising and Arche International (1991-94). Anthony worked on creating a market image for consumer products that are still on the market today.

In 1994 Anthony attended a course in ‘museografia’ at the Istituto d’Arte e Restauro, Palazzo Spinelli, Florence. In the same year he started teaching at St. Albert the Great College in Valletta. MARIA PORTA DEL CIELO.jpgHe teaches art and design. He has taught the subject for the last fourteen years. And to consolidate his position as educator he eventually attended a pedagogy course (1997-98).

Since 1994 Anthony has worked as a freelance designer specialising in museum design but also worked on corporate identity image, designing interiors and teaching art and design. He is also a member of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). Such membership increases his opportunity to share ideas and in the process lose and discover them in a fresher way.

GEOMETRIA DELLA VITA.JPGAnthony has clear notions on the function of museums. For him a museum should be a place where one can learn, relax, meet, socialize and participate. In other words a museum should be interactive where a kin-aesthetic experience can be relished and enjoyed. Perhaps Anthony’s vital design in this regard is the Egalite’ GUERRA E PACE.JPGMuseum of the General Workers Union in Valletta, a social history museum accessible to the blind furbished with computers, Braille and touch method.

Dr. Carmel Cassar who studied social anthropology was instrumental in asking Anthony to work on projects for the ethnography section of the Museum Department. These include the Inquisitor’s Palace and Auberge de France in Vittoriosa, the Folklore Museum in Cittadella, Gozo, the majolica and baroque section in the Fine Arts Museum, Valletta and in Ghar Dalam, B’Bugia.

ABBISSO.JPGAt the age of 47 Anthony has finally decided to take the plunge. He is seriously considering expanding his artistic involvement and is planning a personal exhibition at Heritage Malta Head Office in Merchants Street, Valletta. His first exhibition, as artist and designer took place at the Perfection Café with ‘Versatilita’ e disegno’ in 2005. He also participated in various collective exhibitions during 2006 and 2007. Anthony uses a particular sawdust mix with bonding to create low relief painted panels but his therapeutic works do not need relief. His lyrical and harmonious compositions emanate feeling even on a flat board or canvas.

CASTRUM NELL INFINITO.JPGHis wistful and at times anxious glance demonstrates that he is not completely satisfied with the level achieved to date. He is quite self-critical. Perhaps he desires a spiritual uplifting by far more intense, much deeper and above all more permanent. He is not appreciated enough and perhaps his endeavour to come out of his shell might help him achieve greater acceptance. He surely deserves our attention.

CREAZIONE.JPGAcknowledgements for Transcendence Echibition: Nuccio Lo Castro, Alfred Zammit McKeon, Rina Zammit McKeon, Maria Rita Paternò, Glenn Bugeja, Dr. Carmel Cassar, Theresa Vella, Valletta Fund Management, Bank of Valletta, Heritage Malta, E. V. Borg

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