Malta and Actual Horse Art News

I finally got around to sorting through out photos from the Malta trip. It was a good thing we mainly were seeking a lot of time reading by a pool, because Malta and its companion island Gozo are really small! A week was just enough to see everything.

I have to say that Malta is not beautiful. Not like many of the other Mediterranean places we have been, that are so achingly gorgeous. Sadly, I’m guessing that Malta got caught up in the real estate bubble of the last 10 years and then got crashed when it burst. There are so many unfinished construction projects on the islands, terrible infrastructure and streets, rubble everywhere. Granted, it has such a frightful history of being occupied, despoiled, enslaved, overrun, and bombed (right up through World War II), you can’t be surprised that it looks kind of beat up. It’s amazing anything from ancient history survived! The Med just came off a super-hot summer and all the fields on Malta were completely brown and dry, which didn’t help. Perhaps it looks better in a green springtime.

The historic heritage city centers of Valetta and Mdina were great, the more rural little villages on Gozo, and the sea of course was beautiful. But the areas where the tourists were concentrated in the bays and coves around the main urban areas of Valetta were overrun with ugly high-rises and ugly bars and ugly newer malls, and again a lot of places looking like they were abandoned half-finished.

We were so happy that we had chosen a hotel in the center of Malta near Mdina rather than where most of the hotels were, on the ocean. It was originally a palace and had an old world faded yet stately grandeur. And a fantastic pool area. It also had a sister property on the ocean in one of the main hotel zones, so we went there two days to lounge on their “beach”. There aren’t many sand beaches, and any place that has a metal ladder or stairs cut into a rock platform or rocky cliff to the sea, is called a “beach” or “lido”. Even the 5-star hotel we had access to just had a rocky slab on the water and that was their celebrated beach! But we enjoyed watching all the ship and boat traffic, and swimming, anyway.

It was so so nice to be in warm weather for a week before the long slog of wet winter gets going, back in the UK. (Though I’m delighted to say we’ve had such a dry and warm September and October here so far! What a treat!) We drove our teensy little rental car everywhere, on some pretty scary roads. We took the car ferry over to Gozo, Malta’s smaller and more rural neighbor. We were in search of our first-ever swim in the Mediterranean, and we did get our chance to do that. Plus toured their little Citadel town, Victoria, in the center of the island. The day we went was a national holiday Monday, and it took a 3 hour wait to get the ferry back at the end of the day! I think everyone on Malta with the day off went to Gozo!

Here are a few photos from Gozo:

The above photo of the walled Citadel at Victoria on Gozo illustrates the way the historic stuff was surrounded by the abandoned-looking ugly new building works.

Valetta’s Grand Harbor:

Practically all the streets in Valetta had a statue of a saint on the corner, like above. I don’t know who this one was, but the dog at his feet with the biscuit (?) in its mouth particularly caught my eye.

The ancient walled city of Mdina was the hands-down best place on the islands. It had never been destroyed or taken, over all the years, perfect in its timeless preservation. It was tiny with an incredible Knight’s cathedral, and enchanting little streets. We went back in the evening the next day, just to see it by golden lamp light, exquisite! My artist’s eye was drawn over and over to compositions like these:

We had lunches in little homey places like this pizzeria in Rabat, the interesting town outside Mdina, below. We laughed and laughed after we left because the owner had a voice and mannerisms exactly like the character “Watto” from Star Wars Episode I (the winged junkshop/slave owner of the child Anakin Skywalker):

The attractive carriage horses in Mdina all had a jaunty feather like this in their headstalls:

And now as promised, a little tiny bit of art news.
The Caprice china horse that I was molding and cleaning up, never survived. I had knocked a leg off early in the process, and even after trying to attach it 3 times, I just couldn’t get it to stay on. I should have stopped work on it after I knocked the same leg off the 2nd time. But I thought I could just do all the clean-up on the piece and then stick it on at the end. Wrong! Sooo, just like a real horse, if it can’t stand on its legs it can’t live. All that remains is the pretty head:

I’ll get it fired to bisque one of these days! I learned a heck of a lot from that failure—isn’t that always the way??

This week I finally got around to putting together that Optime that I showed photos of the casting of the pieces, here on this blog. I am even more in Awe of Mark and Donna who had cast this horse for me in the past. I can’t believe they got any copies of this sculpture, with that tail, in the kiln. The tail only attaches in 2 very thin places and mine was wobbling all over the place, awwk! I ended up adding several supporting struts of new tail to mine:

I’m going to carve most of the tail down so it will be unique. And I glopped on a new mane, which I will also carve into new shapes. I am determined not to bump off a leg or something, on this one!!

I also started a new clay sculpture. I’m not ready to talk about it, and I have another one in my mind I want to get onto an armature, too, but I don’t have a spare at the moment. Fortunately we’ve just booked a trip back to Boulder around Thanksgiving, and I plan to bring back another of my armatures with me. Plus I’ve got a little list of Things We Can’t Get In England!

I hope you’re having a great autumn!
Oh, and: GO DENVER BRONCOS!! 5-0!! (I’m so frustrated that the year I go away to a place where I can’t see their games, they go 5 games undefeated!!!)