Professional conservators and Masters students within the University’s Department of Conservation and Built Heritage, Faculty for the Built Environment, are continuing the conservation of the detailed and historically accurate wall paintings illustrating the 1565 Great Siege, made possible through a donation of €75,000 by the Planning Authority (PA).
This was announced by the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia and the Minister for National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government Jose Herrera during a visit on site, at the Throne Room in the Grandmaster’s Palace.
Minister Aaron Farrugia said that cultural conservation is an integral part of planning, as it makes up the historical and architectural heritage of our country’s landscape. “Our work in preserving both our cultural and environmental heritage comes together under Government’s approach towards intelligent planning: it is our ultimate aim to hand over to present and future generations a culturally-rich country that they can be proud of, and a healthy urban and natural environment where they can lead a good quality of life,” he said.
Minister Farrugia further explained that the Planning Authority not only supports the restoration of heritage treasures that are centuries old but looks at structures in the wider context. He said that recently, the PA supported the restoration of a historic concrete water tower which is located within the Civil Abattoir in Marsa. This structure from the 1930s is considered an important industrial heritage monument in the Maltese islands and considered to be a unique structure and the only one of its type on our islands.
Minister Herrera praised this initiative which is being coordinated by various entities in order to carry out the restoration and conservation of the mural paintings related to the Great Siege. He explained that this project will complement the extensive restoration programme being carried out by Heritage Malta at the Grand Master’s Palace with an investment of €28 million co-financed by the EU. This investment demonstrates the Government’s commitment in safeguarding our national heritage.
The paintings were executed by Italian artist, Matteo Pérez D’Aleccio (1547 – before 1616), who was specifically invited over to Malta in 1577 to depict the Great Siege events by Grand Master Fra Jean de la Cassière (1572-1581) himself. The Great Siege is depicted in 12 episodes interspaced by allegorical figures as a frieze decorating the upper part of the walls of the Throne Room at the Grandmaster’s Palace, presenting the four-month siege in a narrative sequence.
The event was also addressed by PA Board Chairperson Perit Vince Cassar, UM Rector Prof. Alfred J. Vella, and Heritage Malta Chairperson Anthony Scicluna, and Head of the Department of Conservation & Built Heritage Prof JoAnn Cassar.