The second Art4Sea art residency: an extraordinary week in Gozo!

The second Art4Sea Art Residency, on the island of Gozo, confirmed two simple yet significant discoveries made during the days in Alonissos: the week represents an opportunity for study and research not only for the artists but also for the mentors and organizers of the project. Moreover, the most intriguing aspect remains the interaction with the places and people who live there daily. For this reason, organizing the residencies before or immediately after the peak summer season, as will be the case in Ustica, has proven to be a wise choice. This approach allows immersion in the diverse geographies and cultures of the locations when they are not yet, or not completely, transformed by the heavy influx of tourists.

From June 3rd to 9th, Gozo witnessed an extraordinary spirit of cooperation among artists, with ideas and suggestions freely circulating, fostering mutual support and fruitful creative exchange for the development of projects. The exploration activities on this beautiful Maltese island, renowned for diving, were impeccably organized by Manuela Tuccella and DAN EU team, with the collaboration of the Atlantis Diving staff.

The eight artists who will bring their visions to life in Gozo include digital artists Luke Conroy, Anne Fehres, Sara Bonaventura, Samuele Hernandez De Luca; street artists/muralists Matlakas, Riccardo Buonafede, THEIC; and underwater sculptor Giacomo Rizzo. Arriving on the island with well-thought-out projects, these artists proved ready to expand their horizons and adapt their visions after immersing themselves in the local waters and culture.

The first three days were largely devoted to discovering the peculiar archaeological features and history of Gozo, perfectly traceable in the temples of Ġgantija, the Ta’ Kola Windmill, the Iċ-Ċittadella, and the stalactite and stalagmite caves that many islanders discovered beneath their homes. Local regulations stipulate that these caves remain the property of those who have the exit beneath their house. Thus, in the renowned Xerri’s Grotto, the owner herself guided the group of artists to discover the various animal and everyday forms that her grandfather and father, before her, had recognized or imagined in the calcified formations of that underground world: the lion, bottles, giraffe, elephant ears, and many others.

Particularly fascinating was the visit to the Citadel of Victoria (Rabat), perched on a steep hill from which one can admire a breathtaking panorama of the entire island. This imposing historical complex houses numerous museums, including the Archaeological Museum, the Nature Museum, and the Folklore Museum, which offer a detailed overview of the history, culture, and traditions of Gozo. The collections of these museums will enrich the imagination of the artists, inspiring them for the works to be created and exposed on the island in June 2025.

The two main events of the week, “Meet the Artists“, conducted by Fabio Figurella (DAN), and the Ocean Health Workshop led by Paula López Sendino and Carine Simon of the Institut de Ciences del Mar – CSIC, were open to the public and held in the presence of the Ministry of Gozo, Simon Caruana of the Institute for Tourism Studies Malta, and Debra Camilleri and Alexandra Camilleri of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Malta.

The participation of eminent institutional figures highlights the common goal of promoting sustainable behaviors and the protection of our precious marine ecosystem. Workshops represent an important means of making environmental themes accessible and understandable, encouraging greater awareness and action both locally and globally. For this reason, preparations are already underway for new workshops next year, with the collaboration of scientists and artists, coinciding with the inauguration of the artworks.

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