On the 23rd of April 2017, The Windrose Project inaugurated the installation of a large-scale weather vane in Marsaxlokk. This took place at Xatt is-Sajjieda, next to the tourist information office. In collaboration with the Marsaxlokk Local Council, we organised the inauguration event.
The Marsaxlokk event consisted of kite-making workshops for children and adults, after which participants flew their kites with the help of volunteers. Generous batches of aljotta (Maltese fish soup) was prepared by Carmen Bugeja and Antonia Bugeja for the attendees.
A sound installation was presented along the promenade, featuring interviews with Marsaxlokk Locals. Excerpts from ‘Il-Baħar Rasu Iebsa’ written by Lino Psaila, a key member of the project, were narrated on the pier and on fishing boats by Ruth Borg and Julia Camilleri. The weather vane was inaugurated by the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government Hon. Dr Owen Bonnici and Mr Horace Gauci, Marsaxlokk Mayor, and blessed by the local parish priest.
THE SITE & THE WEATHER VANE
The weather vane of Marsaxlokk is the third of four public art sculptures which have been created through the Windrose Project for the communities of Sliema, Marsaxlokk, Imġarr and Għarb.
The people of Marsaxlokk are wedded to the sea through the art of fishing and food. The locals spoke at length about fishermen’s journeys out to sea, and how the sound of the wind brings unease among friends and relatives of those who have yet to return. People recalled sleepless nights of worry and uncertainty stirred up by the wind.
The weather vane makes use of the squid, commonly used as fishing bait, to indicate the direction of the wind; it is moved by the three clouds at the back of the vane. It is the wind that kneads the clouds in each and every form we see.
Our main collaborators in Marsaxlokk are Emmanuel Psaila and Hector Barbara. Emmanuel Psaila, also known as Lino Psaila, is 72 years old and was born and raised in Żejtun. Lino is known among the locals of Marsaxlokk as “the man who flies kites” and has won several prizes in many national and international kite competitions. He is also the author of the book ‘Il-Baħar Rasu Iebsa’ [the sea is hard-headed] among others. Hector Barbara is a retired fisherman from Marsaxlokk. He was once a patron, the owner of a large vessel on which many other fishermen worked under his employment.
Through conversations with Lino and Hector, the team of artists behind The Windrose Project designed the public art sculpture inspired by a weather vane.
The following are two extracts from the transcripts of these conversations.
Winds are all good and all bad
“If one thinks about it, all winds are good and all are bad. Why, you may ask? Let me explain it from the point of view of someone who lives in Marsaxlokk, like myself. Let’s think about, say, when the wind is what in Maltese is referred to as “riħ fuq” [literally, wind up] – we call it “Majjistral” [Northwest]. Most probably, this type of wind would scare fishermen. It bothers them because they would be very far out at sea and would have to overcome it. The prow must be pointed towards the wind. On the other hand, if the wind is a strong “riħ isfel” [literally, wind down], what we call “Xlokk” [Southeast], fishermen would be worried about bad weather in the port and must think of a way to protect their boats out at sea due to the bad weather. What I want to say is this: they [the winds] are all good, and all bad. This is true for Marsaxlokk. On the other hand, towards the North, near Gozo for example, they are more worried about the Southwest wind or what they call “Majjistral”. But then, from another perspective, my personal one, a good wind must not be very strong because otherwise I would not be able to fly my kite. It must be a wind of what we call force two, three, at most four. If not, the wind would overturn your kite and you wouldn’t be able to fly it as you wish.”LINO PSAILA
The Sound of the Wind
“The first thought that comes to mind when I’m at home sleeping or doing something else… as soon as I hear the wind, I run up to the roof and ask ‘Who is at sea?’ and the telephone calls start. My daughter’s husband is a fisherman. ‘Is Charlie out there? What are we going to do?’ Here, when the wind falls… ‘the wind falls’ means: the wind starts blowing. The people who live inland say ‘The wind will pick up today’, but we say ‘The wind has fallen’. The big ships go out to sea to look for people. Everybody… without distinction. This is the first thought that comes to our minds as soon as we hear the wind. It’s no joke… when you’re at home listening to the wind blowing you say ‘I’ll tuck myself under my blankets’ and you cover your head. Imagine being far out at sea with a wooden stick in your hand – we call it the rudder tiller – needing to get back to the port to survive. It is then that you realise how dangerous the wind can be. The wind is terrible.”HECTOR BARBARA
Sculpture collaboratively created by Jimmy Grima, Katarina Pejovic, Martina Buhagiar, Adrian Abela, Matthew Pandolfino, Hector Barbara and Leli Psaila between 2014-2016 Artistic Director/ Creative Producer Jimmy Grima Assistant Creative Producer Project Manager Martina Buhagiar Nicole Blackman Flag Making Matthew Pandolfino Franklin Grima Actors Julia Camilleri Ruth Borg Lights and Sound transient lights Kite Making Workshop Leader Mario Pandolfino Kite Making Assistant Sean Decelis Elaine Saliba Sound Installation Jimmy Grima Voices Lino Psaila Hector Barbara Regional Coordinator Southeast Manuel Vella Mayor Horace Gauci Produced and Curated by the rubberbodies collective, part of the Valletta 2018 Cultural Programme in collaboration with the Marsaxlokk Local Council