Lecture by Mr. Denis Darmanin on Maltese military and civil buttons
Passing away of Rev. Can. John Camilleri O.A.M.
Holy Week events
Rock opera at Fort St. Angelo
Lace-in-the-street day
Seminar at Malta Maritime Museum
Lecture at Notre Dame Gate
Rotary Club sponsors informative plaques
Exhibition: playcards and magic
Exhibition: contemporary art
Exhibition: Malta university art students
Exhibition: comics on immigration
Historical tours of Vittoriosa


Mr Denis Darmanin, Committee Member of the Vittoriosa Historical and Cultural Society, delivered a very interesting and well-attended lecture at the Heritage Malta premises in Valletta on 4 April 2006 on the subject “Maltese Military and Civil Uniform Buttons”.  Mr Darmanin has an uncommon passion for military and civil buttons.  He grew up in Vittoriosa where the Royal Naval Base was situated and for a number of years he served with the Armed Forces of Malta, which explains the reason for his unique specialism.  Over the years he has built up a large collection of such buttons and has carried out scientific research particularly in 18th and 19th century uniforms as worn by the troops of the Order of St John, the Maltese Militia and the British Army.  He has contributed articles in various journals on the subject and is a member of the Military Historical Society of the UK, the British Button Society and the International Uniform Button Collectors Club.   He is also a keen member of the Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna.


Rev. Can. John Camilleri passed away peacefully on 23 March 2006 after serving as a presbyter for 46 years.  He was ordained on 29 June 1960 at Cairns, Australia, where he had emigrated to settle and where he spend long years in the service of the diocese.  He returned to Malta several times and each time he devoutly provided pastoral support in the Collegiate Parish Church of St Lawrence, Vittoriosa, where he was baptized.  His solemn funeral at St Lawrence Church was attended by H.G. the Archbishop of Malta.  He was the brother of Rev. Can. Paul Camilleri, member of the St Lawrence Chapter and protagonist for many years in the St Lawrence Festivities Committee.  He is mourned by his brother and sister.


Various cultural activities were organized at Vittoriosa leading up to the traditional Holy Week celebrations.  The theatrical company ‘Irtokki’ presented at the St Lawrence Parish Hall the moving three-act drama entitled “Barabbas”.  The leading role of Barabbas was played by Mr Paul Bonello who was also director.  The part of Jesus was played by Mr Rennie Schembri.  The play was professionally performed and had excellent sound and lighting and an appropriate set and props.  The rattle of Roman soldiers in shining armour as they marched through the audience toward Pilot’s podium on the stage was very impressive.  Vittoriosa was also the venue of various exhibitions.  The Vittoriosa Local Council held an original exhibition in Coronation Gardens, close to the Local Council premises, entitled: “Il-Gimgha Mqaddsa Bejn is-Swar tal-Foss”.  It sought to recreate the devotional and melancholic Lenten mood in the beautiful and quite surrounds of the Ditch.  Life-sized statues representing the Betrayal of Jesus were expertly set in the Ditch.  It is hoped that other episodes from the Lord’s Passion will be constructed. The usual “Gethsemani” exhibition organized by the St Lawrence Band Club was this year given a special touch:  upon its inauguration an open-air concert by the Euro Academy Orchestra under the direction of Mro. Emmanuel Pirotta was held at magnificent St Lawrence Parvis.  An exhibition of folkloristic Good Friday statuettes was held at the Inquisitors Palace by Heritage Malta.  Yet another exhibition on the Holy Week theme was held, for the first time, at the St Lawrence Church underground graveyard, or as it is popularly known, ‘il-kannirja’.


As in previous years the Vittoriosa Rock Opera Group presented a spectacular musical in the open-air historic courtyard of the
Magisterial Palace at Fort St. Angelo.  This year they staged the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical Evita.  It was directed by Alan Cassar and Roderick Castillo and the cast consisted of 80 young members and a number of their parents who worked together tirelessly for some sic months to produce a moving and exciting show.  Members were also responsible for the stage props, choreography, costume design and the details of the production.  Lights were by Nexos Lighting Technology and sound by A-Sound.


On 4 June 206 the Vittoriosa Local Council in collaboration with the Malta Lace Club organized what was fittingly called a Lace-in-the-street Day.  Various members of the Club as well as other lace enthusiasts placed themselves with their bobbins and other paraphernalia along the streets of The Collacchio and spent the morning manufacturing Maltese lace to the admiration of passers by.


On 28 May 206 the Friends of the Malta Maritime Museum in collaboration with Heritage Malta, organized a half-day seminar at the conference hall of the Malta Maritime Museum on the subject Legends, ex-Voto and Graffit’.  Legends of the sea was the topic tackled by Joseph Muscat.  Sandra Scicluna spoke about ex-Voto paintings while Dr Timmy Gambin about graffiti.


A lecture on the subject “Underground Valletta” was held on 20 April 2006 by Mr Edward Said at the new premises of Fondwazzjoni Wirt Artna at Notre Dame Gate, Vittoriosa.


During March 2006 Rotary Club Malta in conjunction with the Vittoriosa Local Council, placed various plaques in front of historical buildings and places at Vittoriosa.  The project has been under way for two years and was inspired by President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici who approached Rotary Club Malta for the purpose.   The historical research for the plaques was carried out by Fr. Francis Galea OP and by Mr. Anton Attard, Vice President of the Vittoriosa Histroical and Cultural Society.


The Cards of Destiny: Gambling, Luck and Magic is the title of an exhibition which will remain open throughout the summer at the Inquisitors Palace, Vittoriosa, on the initiative of Heritage Malta in collaboration with the Italian Associazione Culturale Le Tarot based in Ravenna.  All the material on display forms part of the immense collection amassed by this organization.  Besides exhibiting a wide variety of playing cars, incisions of famous artists, rare books on the subject and other items related to card games, Heritage Malta has also put together  illustrations on the history of mysterious and intriguing tarot ritual.  The oldest references to tarot cards in Europe date back to the 14th century.  By the 15th century these came under attack and denounced as the work of the devil, the Church conducting a repressive campaign against their use. At the end of the 18th century new forms of occultism and fortune-telling cards were developed.


This exhibition was opened on 9 June 2006 at Fort St Angelo and will remain open till the end of July.  It was coordinated by The Malta Superintendence of Cultural Heritage which will establish its principal offices within the vaults of the D’Omedes Cavalier at Fort St Angelo.  The Pierides Foundation of Cyprus, the Universite’ de Picardie Jules Verne of France and the Consiglio Nazione delle Ricerche of Italy also contributed.  The exhibition was organized within the Culture 2000 programme of the EU.  12 international artists make up the exhibition together with 2 Maltese artists, Vince Briffa and Pierre Portelli.  The exhibition is entitled Crossings: a contemporary  view and comprises works in various art media.


Art students from the Faculty of Education of the University of Malta have put up an exhibition of their works at Couvre Porte Gallery, Vittoriosa.  The exhibition opened on 20 June 2006 and remains open for a month.  It was inaugurated by the Dean of the Faculty of Education Prof. Carmel Borg and was put together by Mr Raphel Vella, Art Coordinator within the Faculty.  Dr Louis Lagana’, Lecturer within the Faculty and also Committee Member of the Vittoriosa Historical and Cultural Society, was instrumental in making arrangements for the venue with the Vittoriosa Local Council.  Aptly called Anti-Clockwise the exhibition shows art students exploring new images and textures absorbed from their studies of art and art history.  In this way they reinvent the art experience, find new avenues of expression.  The exhibition brochures explains: “in art anti-clockwise is not the opposite of cloackwise – the two hands of the clock must move together, in different directions”.


This is an original exhibition.  It comprises enlarged colour reproductions of comics drawn by young artists from African countries who arrived in Europe as immigrants, in the majority of cases to escape war and persecution in their countries, ant others to find opportunities for their talents.  The characters of the comics are people from real life and their story will enable the viewer understand the distress and exploitation which such people have to withstand.  The objective of the exhibition is to foster a sense of awareness of the immigrants’ hope for integration and justice.  Malta’s participation in the project called Approdi, financed by the EU, was coordinated by Dr Simon Mercieca from the Institute of Mediterranean Studies of the University of Malta. The story from Malta is set at Birgu which was the Fleet base of the Order of St John which engaged innumerable black slaves as galley rowers. The exhibition is at the Auberge d’Angeleterre , courtesy of the Vittoriosa Local Council.


The Vittoriosa Historical and Cultural Society continue with its tradition of propagating interest in the historical landmarks of Birgu by organizing tours of the city.  The Secretary, Mr Lorenzo Zahra, assisted by Headteache, Ms. K Abela, conducted a tour for the elderly students of St Roque Primary School, Vittoriosa.  Society Member Mr Stanley Spiteri conducted another tours of places of interest to the owners of yachts and boats berthed at the Vittoriosa Yacht Marina.  The tour was coordinated by the Cottonera Waterfront Group and the yacht management company, Camper & Nicholsons.