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Art Discussion Group - Malta

91st Meeting Artist

Joseph Aquilina - a conservator-restorer

The ART DISCUSSION GROUP (ADG) will be holding its 91st meeting on Wednesday 23rd February at 19.00 hrs at MISCO Offices (first floor on right) in FINO Showrooms in Notabile Road Mriehel. Josef Aquilina (1979-) a conservator-restorer, specialized in wood and polychrome, is our guest artist. Josef will tackle an interesting topic: ‘Principles & Dilemmas in Conservation’, in common language the ideology and interpretation of cleaning and presentation of furniture, sculpture, panel paintings and ceilings. 

He will tackle or treat about the appropriate restorative treatment as the result of a compromise among diverse exigencies developed through broad discussion and consideration. The power point presentation will focus on selected applied examples from a personal experience involving conflicting issues while concurrently outlining the respective ‘modus operandi’ based on interpretation. Though the approach is scientific it never becomes purely mathematical or a theorem with a QED finale. All members are cordially invited to attend together with their friends and the general public. 

Since Joseph will apply his exposition to practical tasks from tangible experience he will show images taken during projects undertaken in a career spanning roughly ten years. These will deal with an 18th century architectural wardrobe ascribed to Romano Carapecchia in the sacristy of St. Paul’s Shipwreck church, Valletta; a 16th century ceiling (known as Paladini room) in the previous chapel of the Grandmaster’s Palace at the time of Verdalle; a panel painting in the same chapel; a 17th century wooden crucifix in a private collection; a 17th century ceiling in ‘Dar L-Ewropa’ Valletta; a Sicilian 16th century (c.1570) organ sound-box  in the Oratory of St John’s Co-Cathedral and a Sicilian 18th century corner cabinet in a private collection.

Josef Aquilina has operated since 2001 as a full-time freelancer, a position held until November 2007 and which he still practices on a part-time basis. 

Since then he became Conservation Coordinator in the Rehabilitation Projects Office within the Restoration Directorate – Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs a post that gives him stability. 

He has graduated in Wood Restoration in the city of Piacenza, Italy: ‘Restauro di opera d’arte a supporto ligneo’ conferred by the Italian Istitution, ‘Istituto per il restauro ligneo’. Josef further enhanced his academic baggage both in Malta and Norway and enrolled to research for a Master of Philosophy degree at the University of Malta as a discipline in his rational approach to restoration.

Joseph Aquilina (in black) at the ADG Meeting

Josef collaborated with several firms and institutions amongst which Courtauld Institute of Arts, Department for wall paintings conservation - University of London, Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Department for conservation and restoration of polychrome wood, Firm Sante Guido Restauri Opere d'Arte, Firm MC Restauri - Noto, and Firm Inzoli Cav. Pacifico & Figli di Bonizzi F.lli - Premiata Pontificia Fabbrica d'Organi, to mention but a few.

Wrote numerous reports and articles together with «Il restauro delle sculture lignee», co-authored with Sonia Martino in «Storie di Restauro nella Chiesa Conventuale di San Giovanni Battista a La Valletta: la cappella di Santa Caterina della lingua d'Italia e le committenze del Gran Maestro Gregorio Carafa», Midsea Books, Malta 2008, pp. 173-183.

ADG augurs that Josef’s intervention will be attended with an appreciative audience attracting those with a love of furniture, wood sculpture and decorating carving in wood as for example coffered ceilings.

E. V. Borg

ADG Chairman