Transcript of all Viewers’ comments at the Likeness Project Exhibition

The following is the transcription of the viewer’s comments:

(Whilst viewing, open the link in a new window to all the photographs for reference –


We really liked it. Thank you.

Raphael aged 7.


Sergio Muscat

General note: it is difficult to gauge the character of a person from these images. Some people I know are well represented but others give a totally different perspective altogether. There is variance so it is difficult to come up with a conclusion on the results.

In general the frontal shots are possibly the most telling. It could be because we love and value eye contact. The full profiles and inverse only give indicative physical characteristics and little else. The portrait profile gives sometimes some indications, whether correct or otherwise.

No. 13    Materialistic, slightly bored. Fond of physical appearance.

No. 12    Quiet, nice guy, enjoys life but enjoys also solitude. Intelligent, possibly an engineer.

No. 11    Superficial, very self conscious about her appearance.

No.  8     Difficult to judge. Possibly introvert, builds a defence against vulnerability, but might have an   aggressive streak if provoked.

No. 7      Quiet and friendly, seems like an approachable person with a great sense of humour.


Very innovative concept. Food for thought!



Very, very nice. Wonderful.



Kevin, this is really strange exhibit. It is so classic, you know the traditional studio portraits. It makes you feel like you are not at St James Cavalier, but at some old fashioned photography studio (I have been to one and it was a magical place, out of time, with character). It seems like all the prints have been done in a traditional way, with chemical rather than with digital print. You managed to capture the essence of something that is slowly disappearing. The photos in the middle of each print look like a negative slide (even if they are lighted this way). Another reference to the ‘old good days’. But what is really ‘troubling’ about this exhibit that it reminds me of mug shots, police photos, prison photograph (i.e. in the US). Perhaps it’s just me, but this is what this collection reminds me, the way their profiles (left – centre – right) are positioned and the silhouettes above them. Some have these looks about them (no. 3) that you wonder what have happened to them, what is their story.

It is kind of spooky, just before Halloween, but then it is me J I see a lot of strange things in various places.

Overall, it is a great thought provoking little secret. Well done!



Ing! Gorgeous! Lovely, beautiful… XOX


Prosit Kevin!

Martin Dimech


Well done!

Luke Briffa


Rebecca – Pauline – Mark – Rachel – Charles / Great Salisburg 31/10/2012


Silhouettes … ! I am sadly aware of my sagging chin nowadays (I am 65 yrs) so I found the chins on all your subjects of interest! I like your proper photos in each of the ‘pictures’ (bottom left) best.

On your screen display I thought your shots all excellent but loved the non fashion shots best of all, youth and old age in particular.

Sorry, I have not responded to your request on each individual display.


Anne Morris, South Manchester UK


Prosit, bhal-dejjem Kevin. Kuncett straordinarju. Hubert Cini 01/11/12


Lovely. Aj lajk jor work hij. Prosit. Abdilla Castillo & familja



Intriguing! Complexity drawn from simplicity.

Arthur Felice 03/11/2012


Extraordinarily introspective view of these faces. Thank you.

Jack Matelot


Interesting! Well done!

David DP Attard



Opposite to your instructions, looking at the people I do know, I have realised that I Know only the character they choose to show me wherever I meet these people.

These photos allowed me to allow my imagination to roam free and wonder at the other characteristics of these people and the sides of their personalities I do not know, but got a glimpse of from this project.

Very inspiring work as always!

Rene Attard


I was moved. Amazing!



This is not very good I have seen better work.


I like the work.

Lara Asciak


I came here with an open mind. When I saw the portraits one by one, I was interested in the presentation mainly because

A)    The silhouettes are unknown, they do not reveal much however a slight tilt of the chin can indicate a confident person / or  whereas a certain shot with relaxed / or slouched shoulders indicated maybe a subject who does not care how he/she looks.

B)    I am a fan of the bottom left photos because of the approach in photography light in both eyes highlights the innuendoes of the soul, people look more approachable.

C)    Am in awe with the middle shots, they are scary and give me a void feeling … could it be the loneliness of our souls?

D)     The split shot is the most direct and the viewer challenges you to look head on at them, but do we dare look?

I love this exhibit … can’t comment on individual shots since I know most of the sitters.

The presentation made a fresh impact to ordinary portraits seen around most galleries! Well done.


PS: Mom loved the portraits on screen …


Very nice photos J

12 & 11           Look like good, warm-hearted people

5 & 7               Look a bit meaner type, persons with dark secrets

6                      Wants to achieve his goals badly

9                      She looks gentle and calm. Quite a peaceful person.

I didn’t really feel like I got such immediate impressions from the other portraits.

The concept behind the exhibition has given me something different to think about now.

Lovely work!


04/11/12 Mi piace….


04/11/12 Molto bello, buon divertimento / Italian visitor



Very interesting, yet demanding topic – portraiture. I like the silhouette effects in the first place and the natural window light. Very innovative idea to keep the picture as it is taken and not made-up. I like it. Prosit. Keep up the good work.


(Your self portrait suits you well)




Prosit. Unusual aspect of photography. Very well presented and compelling to look at.

No. 1               Pensive, intense person

No. 2               Aggressive, gets things done

No. 3               Worried, insecure

No. 4               Happy, motherly type

No. 5               Technical, intelligent

No. 6               Artistic, caring

No. 7               Hard life, manual work, mischievous

No. 8               Business like, maybe artistic

No. 9               Caring (nurse), mother

No. 10             Fashion conscious, artistic

No. 11             Happy, fulfilled

No. 12             Calm, serene, forward looking

No. 13             Mysterious (could not immediately decide), ambitious maybe?



I like your idea, I think that there is a mystery to them; you do not know their background – if they are important people, just plain old simplicity.

Thanks for your exhibition.




Felicity Zammit/ B’bugia



No. 5               Quite serious about life and himself. This does not mean that he has no sense of humour. Intellectual

No. 6               Gentle, careful not to hurt or insult people. A bit shy. Likes to be on her own.

No. 7               Takes life as it comes. Sometimes taken advantage of. Kind. Not overly clever.

No. 8               Likes women and friends. Quite good self esteem. Likes ‘hip’ things/ crowds

No. 9               Conscientious. Likes routine & orderliness. Not very wild (a bit dull).

No. 10             Assertive, educated, but likes to present himself / be an individual

No. 11             Talkative, laughs a lot. Likes activity.

No. 12             Gentle. Religious. Not always gentle. Can probably change moods quickly.

No. 13             An underlying insecurity. Not intellectual. Likes to be accepted & mainstream.

No. 4               Talkative, friendly, has some very close friends

No. 2               Kind and a little shy

No. 1               Sometimes unkind to others. Can be judgemental towards others

No. 3               Lively & spontaneous.

Thanks for an interesting exhibition.





  1. Sensitive complex
  2. Gentle, romantic
  3. Focussed, energetic
  4. Kind, brave
  5. Thinker, intellectual
  6. Artistic, creative
  7. Pragmatic, intelligent
  8. Intense, deep, scorpio
  9. Caring, teacher, spiritual
  10. Humane, musical
  11. Fun, lively, athletic
  12. Religious, steady
  13. Dancer, elegant, idealistic

Well done Kevin!






  1. Serious, likes order, a bit naive
  2. Kind, extroverted, easy going
  3. Creative, a bit stubborn, has aspirations
  4. Sense of humour, self-sarcastic, sensitive
  5. ?
  6. Generous, honest, ambitious
  7. Calm, friendly, a bit introverted
  8. Decisive, thinking big, gentle
  9. Strict, serious, honest
  10. Artistic, vain, self-involved
  11. Social, kind, a bit selfish
  12. Caring, sensitive, serious
  13. Self-centred, a bit naive.

Good job!

Anonymous 2



Why is 12 different?



Prosit Kevin.

Vincent Zammit



Prosit Kevin.

Excellent work. I like the idea. Great!! Very inspiring.

Keith Ellul



  1. Young, untroubled, a bit bored
  2. Easy going, looks like trying not to laugh
  3. Looks a bit rushed, possibly a fidget
  4. Friendly, intelligent eyes, thoughtful
  5. Serious, moody possibly
  6. (Beautiful big eyes, by the way) Sad looking, though determined
  7. Bit of a joker, sarcastically minded
  8. Inquisitive and curious, friendly
  9. Shy, straightforward
  10. Quiet, hard worker, a bit contemptuous
  11. Friendly, artistic, loving
  12. Nice, unassuming, relaxed
  13. Very sensuous lips! Not serious –jokey, vain

Sandy C


In a world where everyone wants to be ‘tagged’ on social networks, the notion of portraiture is increasingly elusive. I very much admire the qualities you convey in your subjects.

Den Carter UK


Good work, however when one looks at the collective exhibition you’d easily realise that ‘a template’ structure was preset in the photographer’s mind. Thus, I would have preferred if you were to change the angle of some photos.

Hope you find this comment useful, didn’t want to offend you in any way, shape or form.

Ian Karl Coleiro


Well done.


Prosit hafna ta, Kevin!

Unrecognizable signature


Very interesting and extremely inspiring.



Great work Kevin! Gives me a feeling of going back to photography’s roots which is great. I obviously cannot comment on the photos as I recognise or know many of the people here.

Very interesting and inspiring work. I enjoyed it!



Inspiring… Should get back to my workshop.




  1. Bitterness
  2. Contentment
  3. Emptiness
  4. Happiness
  5. Seriousness
  6. Hope
  7. Experience
  8. Emptiness
  9. Hope
  10. Pretence
  11. Satisfaction
  12. Contentment
  13. Superficiality




Interesting concept and study. I am afraid to comment as I know most of the subjects. However on a general viewpoint, if images were portrayed in a mix, they would be quite puzzling to identify.

Interesting silhouettes, these are more complex and unidentifiable .

Well done!

Charles Calleja


No. 10             Reserved, afraid to share emotions, does not like to expose his personality / himself

No. 11             Warm-hearted, shy, timid

No. 9               Has high expectations towards herself, very ambitious, strict with herself.

No. 7               Friendly, sad, likes to look back / nostalgic

No. 1               Bored


Very innovative and artistic concept. Prosit! We need to see more of such art in Malta!

Nathalie Attard



The Likeness Project – Outcomes


My photography exhibition, The Likeness Project, has now closed for viewing. Still, I would like the idea’s provocation and the debate to carry on.

general view of the exhibition set up at St James Cavalier, Centre for Creativity

General view of the exhibition set up at St James Cavalier, Centre for Creativity

In fact, from the amount of comments and interest the work has generated, I have decided to soon post all comments on this blog. This will serve to evaluate the outcomes and reflection that came out from this concept.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who visited the exhibition and took time to write down their views. A big thanks also goes to the persons who kindly co-operated and accepted to be photographed for the project.

I have now posted below a few of the exhibits for those who for some reason or other did not manage to view it.

It is also with pleasure that I can announce I will now be exhibiting this project at the London Hilton in January 2013.

The debate goes on….








View also Vanadium Avenue blog –


The Likeness Project

Artist’s Statement – The Likeness Project

It is not easy for a person to live and breathe photography and to keep challenging and stimulating himself with his work. It is a hunger which needs to be satiated every day.

It is also a shocking awakening when an artist sometimes gets that sinking feeling that he has done it all wrong and his path has, perhaps, taken him nowhere he would currently like to be.

Making a living from professional photography has never been easy, particularly now, in this extremely competitive and saturated digital world. For me it has always been trying to find a balance between my commercial and my artistic work. My commercial stimulus has always been that paid work would subsidize my personal projects. I have always had to work hard to get results.

Recently I have been asking myself where I want to go from here. A career of over thirty years is not easy to handle and it seems to get harder to map out one’s journey.

Although a general practitioner, I am mostly known for my portrait and fashion photography, which used to rather satisfy and content me. But currently I have been tortured by doubts about this genre of photography. Is it all made up? Is it all fictitious? Have I really been creating images which show character, mood or a message? Searching deep in my soul and my work I can only come up with few images which fit these criteria.

This is where this exhibition, and its name, “The Likeness Project”, come in.

The Likeness Project

The Likeness Project

Why Likeness? In the early days of photography, portraits where actually termed as “Likenesses” and photographers toiled in order that in some way, compete and better the work of painters and their portraits.  A “Likeness” rarely attempted to show anything more than a similarity and a record of the person.

Matters changed drastically as technology progressed and photographers, (as well as their subjects), strayed further and further away from the truth to create idealised or clichéd portraits of their sitters.

The more I think about my past work, the more I am inclined to revert back and return to the basics of photography – of trying to capture people in a truer and more realistic way – attempting as much as possible not to alter reality and just showing and conserving people’s real features, moods and characters.

The work in this collection consists of images which all have the human element as their subject. Images which are basically unaltered and which require and intrigue the viewer to look deeply and in detail at the subtle nuances of a portrait by comparing silhouettes, facial negatives and portraits simply shot with natural north light coming from a window – just as vintage studio portraiture was originally conducted in the early days of the medium.

My subjects were instructed not to apply any make up or physical enhancements, not to wear any jewellery or ornaments and where only given a plain black top to wear.

In this exhibition, the idea is to invite and encourage those viewers, who must not know the actual subjects, to write down their thoughts on such matters as what they consider the subject’s characteristics, mannerisms etc. to be. That way a debate can hopefully be entered into as to whether the portrait as we know it has been giving us the wrong impression of a person’s countenance and character.  Perhaps hidden nuances about the subjects can be possibly borne out and give a deeper insight into our character than fictitious, unnatural, posed portraits.

The main manipulation I have done to the images is by turning them into monochrome to remove the distraction of colour and to also give them a timeless, retro feel.


Kevin Casha – The Likeness Project

St James Cavalier for Creativity, Valletta, Malta 2012

Frammenti di Donna – a photographic exhibition

“Frammenti di Donna”

During the past years, the Malta Institute of Professional Photography (MIPP) has been actively following a policy of networking and cooperation with various Photographic entities around Europe and the Mediterranean. The main aim has been to empower local photographers and enable them to enhance their vision of the work of other countries and photographers in order to further push the boundaries of their photography.

Due to this policy, the MIPP has managed to bring over to Malta a series of interesting photography exhibitions which help to inspire local artists. “Frammenti di Donna,” showing at Palazzo Xara in St Paul’s Street, Rabat, is the latest of these exhibitions. It will be open to the general public from the 1st to the 26th October, 2012.

The work exhibited hails from the Sicilian Fotoclub Le Gru, who have already been cooperating on various visits and projects with the MIPP. In fact, a delegation from the Group will be in Malta for an exchange visit and for the actual inauguration of the exhibition.

As the name implies, the exhibition concerns the female sex. Women have always been an attractive and inspiring subject for all artists, and photographers are no exception.  The debate on the exploitation of women in art, advertising and commercials will surely rage on interminably and revolves and fluctuates according to the different perceptions, customs and religion of various nations, but one sure thing is that artists will never cease to be intrigued by the mystery as well as the controversy and attraction that surrounds the female gender.

© Rosario di Maria

© Rosario di Maria, Frammenti Di Donna Exhibition

This exhibition attempts to capture instants in which a glimpse of this mystery and attraction is evidenced. Most of the images in this exhibition try to show us curious moments and insights of women’s presence in the world around us. Although the sexuality, eroticism and beauty of the female body are not neglected, other less obvious, perhaps less evident, facets of everyday life are also explored. This gives this collection an interesting and curious cross section of the theme and encourages discussion and debate.

© Silvano Bicocchi

© Silvano Bicocchi, Frammenti Di Donna Exhibition

The image by Silvano Bicocchi, subtly shows the hands of a hard working woman. Hands which carry a message of toil and sacrifice that a woman sometimes goes through in her married life. A picture by Rosario di Maria contrasts sharply with this. Di Maria captures the sexual beauty of a young woman in an artistic, romantic manner – introducing slight movement in order to breathe more life into the image. Two different sides of the same coin.

© Donna Manta

© Donna Manta, Frammenti di Donna Exhibition

Again a very different angle is depicted by Donna Manta. Her image of an adolescent coloured girl, peacefully at rest in what seems to be a hospital bed, conjures the plight of women risking their lives to try and escape the harshness and perils of countries were women are treated as little more than slaves. The restful and, seemingly, exhausted but peaceful deep sleep of the girl hopefully augurs a brighter future in a new, better beginning.

© Gabriele Rigon

© Gabriele Rigon, Frammenti di Donna Exhibition

Gabriele Rigon’s nude combines the sensuality of the human figure with the everyday habitual motions of smoking – perhaps after a night of passionate love? The shallow depth of field enhances well the softness and curves of the model.

Paola Garofalo’s image of a girl at her toilette plays on the effect of multiplicity and reflection – rather reminiscent of the work of Chiara Fersini, recently shown in Malta again during another MIPP international exhibition. Available light and colour is put to good use here.

© Paola Garofalo

© Paola Garofalo, Frammenti Di Donna Exhibition

Santo Mongioi’s cubism inspired photograph gives a different, yet somewhat semi abstract view of the theme. It is quite arty in its rendition and I believe that work such as this should be commended and more exploited and explored by photographers.

Daniela Sidari’s images hint on the female form through the clever use of shop manikins as her chosen subject matter. Using positive and  negative versions of her images and combining them in a diptych, she has managed to create an aura of clinical, inquisitive coldness, again encouraging the viewer to examine form and light on the contours of the “female’s” body.

© Danela Sidari

© Danela Sidari – Frammenti Di Donna Exhibition

These are just a few of the images I have singled out that have particularly intrigued and fascinated me. I am sure that visitors will have their own favourites and areas of debate, opinion and discussion.

I urge photographers and artists alike, as well as the general public, to view the interesting works of the Le Gru members at Palazzo Xara and try to delve deeper into the fascinating world of women.

Viewing Times (free entry) are:

Mon – Sun  from 09:00 – 24:00

1st October to 26th October, 2012


Kevin Casha

© 2012


Inspirational, Exciting & Creative

Inspirational, Exciting & Creative!

Following last year’s great success with the visit of well renowned photojournalist, Lorenzo di Pietro, a guest of the Malta Institute of Professional Photography (MIPP),  this year, the Institute will be going one better and will be giving their members, as well as other local photographers, something really special. The MIPP’s guests in August will be international photographers Witold Flak and Chiara Fersini.

Some photographic enthusiasts should remember Polish personality Witold from a previous visit to our island. At that event, his lecture and character were a breath of fresh air and incredibly inspiring. Chiara, who hails from Italy, will be visiting Malta for the first time, and will surely leave an impression with her fantastic brand of photography.

This event is purposely linked to World Photography Day, which is celebrated on the 19th of August. What better present to give local photographers than this veritable feast of creative and inspirational photography and networking?

The scope behind this event is twofold: Firstly to nurture the ideal conditions for  MIPP members and local photographers to come together in one big event and, secondly, to enable the MIPP to bring international personalities in the photographic field so as to act as catalysts to further stimulate and widen the horizons of local photography.

To coincide with this event, Chiara and Witold will also be exhibiting their work at the Cavalieri Hotel in St Julian’s from the 18th of August till the 31st of August. The Exhibition is entitled, “Insight.”

Chiara Fersini ( holds a degree in English and Japanese. She investigates the intriguing inner relation between photography and painting, and takes inspiration from thePre-Raphaelite painters and the Liberty style.

She has already participated in many art exhibitions and contests; and she’s been featured in magazines such as “Advanced Photoshop, NL” and “ Fashion Capital, UK”.She has experience as a designer for storybooks, fashion and the entertainment sectors.

Her photography is a mix of art, technique and poetry. Her work is stunning and surprising. Her set of photographs, which will be exhibited in Malta, belie her young age but undoubtedly bear the stamp of a very talented and sensitive artist. Not only is her technique to a high level, but the content of her work stimulates the viewer to look deeper and explore the artist’s message. When one takes into consideration that Chiara also at times models in some of her own images, one starts to understand the talent of this Italian image maker.

In “Gravity is a lie”, Chiara creates a surrealistic mood in her image, very reminiscent of Salvador Dali’s paintings. All her works embody a process of thought, imagination, high standards of technique and post processing. But what makes her artworks a cut above the rest is that she knows how to pose and portray her subjects to pass on her pictorial message, whilst her knowledge of light and imagination further enhances the final effect.

Gravity is a lie

Gravity is a lie

In another image, “L’ audition”, Chiara creates a mood of mystery and expectation by covering the faces of most of the figures and just exposing one face, whose melancholic expression seems to convey the sometimes futile attempts of impressing a judge or selector during an audition.



The colour harmony and warm tones suit this dreamy image perfectly and the feather held in one of the models’ hands contrasts sharply to the impersonal numbers which all the others are holding. This leaves the image very open to the imagination and to individual interpretation.

“Portrait de l’Artiste” is a fantastic journey into classic art. The subtle, directional light coming in from the window has superbly illuminated the model’s face reflected in the oval mirror. The shy, downward glance of the model implies the uncertainty that an artist is many times faced when confronted by his blank canvas. The chiaroscuro effect, warm tones and excellent choice of props in this photograph demonstrates the heights that a photographic artist can achieve by employing his visual and mental skills to his utmost. “Teli e Toiletta” is another image which merits the same study and is in the same league as Chiara’s “Portrait de l’Artiste.”

Portrait de l'artiste

Portrait de l’artiste

“Tranquilize” is another work which invites the viewer to try and fathom and interpret the thoughts of the subject, whilst “Crushed Spirits” has obviously been inspired by Raphaelite art.

When viewing Chiara’s works, one cannot help (if he is sensitive and open enough to art), but feel mesmerized with each and every photograph his eyes rest upon.

To me, Chiara has superbly managed to take the right inspiration from past classical art and artists and further imbue her work with her own fantastic skills and creativity to take us on a journey of reflection, mystery and discovery.

In contrast to Chiara’s classical studied approach, Witold Flak’s ( ) work is surprising and, in many ways, an eye opener.

His work, in this exhibition, all in monochrome, bears the hallmark of someone who has a keen natural eye for a picture and of a photographer who is not tightly bogged down by technicalities and convention.

Flak loves working with people and his knack for handling his subjects regularly demonstrate an innate sensitivity and a great passion both for photography as well as for the human race.

Witold’s photographs show perception and unusual viewpoints. They bring joy, trigger passions and encourage dreams. By his own admission, Witold is no digital editing guru or technical wizard, but his passion for the art is incredibly inspiring and fresh to both professional as well as amateur photographers. His vision is like a breath of fresh air in what sometimes is becoming a claustrophobic and fictitious environment.

All of Flak’s work in the Cavalieri Hotel exhibition depicts the human subject.

His approach is more that of a benign predator who stalks his subject and coaxes out the expression, the angle and the mood in a non-intimidating manner. His subjects rarely show shyness – in fact, most of the expressions and body language demonstrate a sense of trust in the photographer taking their image. “Reflection” and “Thought” are two images which bear this out.



I think Witold excels when he is portraying the female form. Looking in depth into this attractive but difficult subject, Witold manages to actually highlight the respect and love he has for the female sex and glorifies his women in such a beautiful and sensual manner. “Here I am” and “White and Black” are two of his works which stand out.

Here I am

Here I am

In “Side by side”, in the fleeting instant of a shutter click, Witold has captured an expression that is pregnant with emotions and interpretations. The slight blur on this image adds to the mystery and questions that this photograph raises. Here Witold is again refusing to miss the crucial expression or mood of his subject, by getting entangled in obtaining the “right” technique, and his boldness has produced a very powerful journalistic image.

Side by Side

This is again brought out in image “The Unknown” where Witold’s choice of purposely not showing the face of his subject strongly emphasizes the mystery and ambiguity of his subject matter.

The Unknown

The Unknown

“Look” is a fine example where “less is more”. Flak’s clever cropping and choice of viewpoint and subject give this photograph much more impact by stimulating the imagination of the viewer. His unorthodox, unshackled way of capturing pictures uses the power of photography and its message-telling abilities to the best possible advantage.



His work is infectious, and inspires us to just pick up our cameras and go out there and capture the beauty, and maybe sometimes, the horrors of life.

The MIPP would like to thank the management of the Cavalieri Hotel for their kind help and sponsorship of this Exhibition

The Exhibition will be open from the 18th of August till the 30th of September.


© Kevin Casha


Exhibition Curator








Exploring different ways of doing art photography

I make it a practice to try and view as many art exhibitions and events as possible. I firmly believe that a creative soul can take inspiration and ideas from being sensitive to all around him. Naturally, other artist’s endeavours and offerings are a rich source of contemplation and can generally stimulate debate and spark off the imagination – things which are so vital to art evolvement.

Naturally, due to time constraints, I do not actually manage to see all the exhibitions I would like to, but then I really try to make time when the subject is photography – my passion. So I just could not fail not to go and view “Divergent Thinkers”, a collective exhibition held at St James Cavalier, in Valletta. Giola Cassar, one of my current Higher National Diploma students, was amongst the seven artists taking part – so this was a further reason for my visit.

This project was made possible through Agenzija Zaghzagh’s (Youth Agency’s) Empowerment Programme. I feel there is much to improve in governmental cultural policies, but this programme, directed at promoting and aiding art and culture amongst young people is to be lauded. As the Hon. Clyde Puli, Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport, ably put it in the exhibition Catalogue’s foreword, “The contribution that young people can make through their artistic endeavours to the cultural life of the nation and its further enrichment is, I believe, immense.”

I cannot agree more with this statement. Without a fresh crop of young artists, art can become stuck in a rut and perhaps churning out a diet which might be somewhat unadventurous, gimmicky, stale and at times, downright boring.  Granted, established artists and trail blazers who have come before us are a source of constant inspiration to up and coming artists, and it is vital that those making their first steps in the art world should constantly study, absorb, and question what has come before their time. The important thing is not to become slavish and copy but to try and question, explore and give new interpretations to past work. Young artists also push established ones to greater heights and challenges.

Alas, today, despite the many opportunities and increased awareness given to young artists, the many distractions and perhaps soft, easy material life which we have now become accustomed to, is, at times, feeding a lack of drive, determination and will in our youngsters. Youth are usually very excited and interested in the art world, as they visualize it as a glittering, fashionable and desirable lifestyle, but when they realize that it can be such hard work, that it is so difficult to lift your shoulders above the rest and that, in the majority of cases, not very remunerative, most quickly fall by the wayside and unfortunately quickly abandon their dreams. Most youngsters do not realize that success and fulfilment is neither fast nor easy. An artist can only succeed if he has the passion, the drive, the determination to succeed. Unfortunately there are no easy ways.

Which brings us back to the Divergent Thinkers project.  I will only endeavour to review and comment on Giola’s photography, because most of  the other offerings at the exhibition are media and art forms which I do not consider myself conversed enough to assess. Some of the work has made me reflect, some has given me very mixed feelings, whilst some of the work did not stimulate any reaction in me. That does not mean that some art has no value. The beauty of art is that it arouses different feelings and reactions in those who view it. Art is so subjective and the culture, character, awareness, past experiences and sensitivity of the viewer will impact each and every one in a different way. Even the current state of mind of the viewer will influence his reactions. My view is that art needs to energize a reaction in those encountering it. Even a “bad reaction” is desirable to “no reaction.”

Timeless 1 by Giola Cassar

Timeless 1 by Giola Cassar

Giola’s offering in this project is four photographs which come over to us as sets of two.  The images in the sets relate well with each other but then contrast greatly between them.

Knowing Giola’s work from college, I know that she researches very extensively and, rightly so, she takes great pains in her concept and preparation. She is definitely not trigger happy. All the four works in this exhibition bear this out. She has painstakingly planned and studied her subjects and props and this track invites the viewer to do the same. One needs to take time and explore the nuances, detail and mood of her images. The time taken will not be wasted.

Timeless 2 by Giola Cassar

Timeless 2 by Giola Cassar

In her “Timeless” duo of prints, she has attempted to recreate a long gone age and succeeded quite well. The mood is definitely there. After one absorbs the fashion of that era, one is intrigued by the expressions of the “models”.  It’s a somewhat vacant, inscrutable and obscure expression which made me think. What did these two girls feel like, dressing up and “going back” in time? The plain warm, retro tones of the images complement the subjects and bring out the mood in an ideal way. Still, I guess the debate can rage here as to whether these images are documents or contemplative, records of an era or deep character studies. The answers will be as diverse as the viewers.

The other set of two prints, entitled “Internal and external vastness of Space” are in direct contrast to the “Timeless” portraits. Here Giola shows that she is still grappling as to what direction her photography will eventually take. It is the right way that at her young age she is exploring several ways of expressing herself with photography. It is a process that one should pass through, and keep passing through, in order to constantly challenge and excite him or herself. The operation is never ending.

Space 2 by Giola Cassar

Space 2 by Giola Cassar

In my view, this second set of work gives the viewer much more scope for reflection and speculation – thus it makes them more engaging due that they leave a lot of questions unanswered and camouflaged.  Giola here delves into the mysterious vastness of Space.  A subject which has intrigued and mystified all generations since time immemorial.

The girl seemingly trapped and constricted in a claustrophobic cubicle (a refrigerator?) gives us the feeling of immobility, of being eternally trapped in the little space that she has been confined to. Yet the expression is not of despair or anger but more of being resigned       to her fate.  Is not this perhaps a metaphor or allegory of the way some people feel inevitably trapped and restricted in their surroundings, their life, their Space? Technically this image could perhaps have been slightly improved through light direction, but then technique is at times less important than the message and I feel this print certainly delivers the message and creates curiosity and discussion.

Giola’s other image, my favourite in this set, is of a “ghostly” whimsical girl apparently floating in a dark and forbidding space. The high viewpoint purposely distorts perspective and makes the girl more vulnerable and helpless in such a vast and unending space.

Space 1 by Giola Cassar

Space 1 by Giola Cassar

One of the definitions of space is that Space is capable neither of resistance nor motion. I feel this concept has been brought out very well, particularly in this image. The girl’s pose offers no resistance and demonstrates her immobility when faced with the unknown and greatly unexplored vastness of her surroundings. Her gaze does not betray any emotions and further invites us to perhaps stare into the seeming nothingness of space.

I think this is a well chosen subject and concept and I do look forward to seeing more of Giola’s “struggles” with such unexplored regions of the psyche.

© Kevin Casha


Divergent Thinkers is open from 27th July up to 2nd September, 2012