Can­dles and more at the Au­berge de France

Malta Independent - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

Ihad no idea that the Au­berge de France still ex­isted. I thought it had been bombed. I was very ex­cited to dis­cover that in fact it is now the seat of the Lo­cal Coun­cil of Birgu, the Town Hall, and con­tin­ues to be re­stored.

What took me there dur­ing Bir­gufest was an in­vi­ta­tion from per­fumer Stephen Cor­dina who has ex­panded his range with new scents and now has wrought iron can­dle stands made by one of his broth­ers, too. He told me that his other brother makes mod­els. A gifted fam­ily. That evening Stephen was giv­ing a 20% dis­count on his cre­ations which was a tempt­ing of­fer in­deed. There were dif­fusers, gift ham­pers, shower gels and so much more for per­sonal use and the home. And of course loads and loads of can­dles of all sizes.

***

The am­bi­ence was truly mag­i­cal as you can see from one of the pho­tos on this page. I have ev­ery ad­mi­ra­tion for peo­ple who start from noth­ing and build some­thing worth­while in an hon­est man­ner. That is Stephen for you. The other Goz­i­tan whom I greatly ad­mire is Fran­cis Sul­tana, an­other artist who built a rep­u­ta­tion in in­te­rior and fur­ni­ture de­sign abroad. To­gether with his part­ner David Gill they have lov­ingly trans­formed a palazzo in St Ur­sula street into a very spe­cial abode.

It was not easy park­ing in Birgu with so many peo­ple turn­ing up to Bir­gufest. The nar­row streets were lit up with can­dles – beau­ti­ful. Of course there was the in­evitable singer in the pi­azza ac­com­pa­nied by very loud mu­sic which al­ways spoils any am­bi­ence but as a nation we seem to be so fond of it. It is the de­stroyer of con­ver­sa­tion and at­mos­phere wher­ever you go. with its patina of age, was con­structed way back in 1533 or there­abouts. It housed the Knights of the Or­der of St John from the langue of France. The knights of Provence and Au­vergne had their own au­berge in the col­la­chio, the an­cient part of the city. Imag­ine what sto­ries the au­berge has to tell, sto­ries which will never be told.

The knights re­mained in this build­ing un­til Val­letta was built Mr Box­all is ac­quainted with peo­ple who still own some of his fur­ni­ture. Fi­nally the gov­ern­ment ac­quired it and Agata Bar­bara, as Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion turned it into a po­lit­i­cal his­tory mu­seum. But it did not work. It was sub­se­quently planned to turn it into a mu­seum of the Mal­tese lan­guage, but that fell through, too. The Mu­se­ums De­part­ment passed it on to Her­itage Malta in 2010 and it is now be­ing rented to the Birgu Lo­cal Coun­cil.

***

This was truly an ex­cel­lent lo­ca­tion for the Stephen Cor­dina event. I had missed the launch of his shop at The Point and was very happy that I had made the ef­fort to come to his event in Birgu. I wish him con­tin­ued suc­cess which he richly de­serves.

mbenoit@in­de­pen­dent.com.mt

Today is your last chance to see the works of ten well­known artists who are ex­hibit­ing at the Union Club at 1, Tigné Street, Sliema. The ten artists are Deb­bie Caru­ana Dingli, John Borg Man­d­uca, Ken­neth Zam­mit Tabona, Mario Mal­lia, Arnold Sul­tana, Damian Ebe­jer, Cather­ine Cavallo, Marco Ar­cidi­a­cono, Alex Cachia and Andrew Di­a­cono. The ex­hi­bi­tion cu­ra­tor is the well-known art his­to­rian and aca­demic Dr Char­lene Vella. The pub­lic is wel­come to view the ex­hi­bi­tion be­tween 10:30am and 12:30pm, and be­tween 5 and 8pm. The re­cep­tion­ists will as­sist non-mem­bers with where to view the ex­hi­bi­tion. The ex­hi­bi­tion was of­fi­cially opened last Fri­day. The Malta Union Club can be con­tacted on 21332011, 21332012, info@mal­tau­nion­club.com

This piece of sculp­ture on the stairs of the au­berge had 14 dif­fer­ent coats of paint on it

Stephen with two young ladies from Franks Per­fumery

Iggy Fenech, An­nemarie Gale, Jo Caru­ana and An­toine Le Marc

The com­poser/con­duc­tor Eric Hull and Erica Dias Valverde

Prof. Richard Eng­land is hold­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of draw­ings Melit et Gaul at art... e Gallery 1, Li­brary Street, Vic­to­ria, Gozo. In his own beau­ti­ful po­etic words: “In the mid­dle Sea un­der the eter­nity of stars two con­ti­nents meet os­cil­lat­ing be­tween re­mem­brance and de­sire. Is­lands cast in my prayers is­lands shaped in my fan­tasy is­lands fash­ioned in my thoughts.”

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