Beginnings are important. They pave the way and help form who we are. Born on the island of Malta at the end of the nineteen forties, I spent the first fifteen years of my life in a small town surrounded by family and churches and basking in the Mediterranean sun. Aunts and uncles, cousins and grandmothers were ubiquitous and the quaint village-town life on the island was easy going and laid back even though the islanders were recovering from years of World War II bombings, only a decade or so earlie. Stories about the war were plentiful and every single Maltese over a certain age carried salient images of the terrors of war. The church dominated everyone's life, from birth to death, at school and at home and politics was not far behind.
So how did these first dozen years impact my art making? A few things come to mind. On top of the list was my father's occupation. Like his father before him, he was a skilled craftsman. He was a decorator of churches and wealthy homes. He excelled at gilding, faux marble and faux wood and sign painting. I spent many a Saturday afternoon high up on scaffolding helping him retrieve gold leaves that had flown away from his work pad or watching him letter trucks or storefronts at breakneck speed.
Festive events such the village Festa , Carnival, Christmas and Easter also contributed heavily to the my artisitic curiosity.
Second in line was time spent in church as an altarboy assisting at Mass, Funerals and Baptisms. Since most churches on the island had paintings everywhere, on the ceiling and on the walls, I had plenty of time to alleviate the boredom by staring at the biblical stories and lives of saints colourfully displayed all around me. However my interest in following a career in the arts did not happen until much later. In my early boyhood years, I lived for soccer, the sea, jumping from high places, school and academics; I attended the Lyceum Secondary School in Hamrun when I turned twelve and at age fourteen the family upped and moved to Toronto.