by Kevin Casha Published 01/04/2017
S.L. Cassar: A rare Cassar postcard showing a Gozitan bus in what was Piazza Reale in Victoria; c.1930. (Courtesy of Marie Louise Cassar).
A further reason for doing this work was that I find it rather sad that whenever students of photography are asked whose work they admire most, it is invariably only foreign photographers who are mentioned. Malta’s previous insularity, coupled with years of colonial conditioning, is perhaps responsible for this. Granted, it is not easy to compare great international photographers with local photographers as the market and context are extremely different. Nevertheless, I feel that increasing awareness about what Maltese photographers have achieved through their painstaking efforts, should hopefully encourage students to appreciate and study the work of local protagonists in much more depth.
Whilst undergoing this research, another aspect of photography that I became intrigued with was the reverse or back-side of vintage cabinet portraits and 'Cartes-des-Visite' 6 – more commonly known as ‘CdVs’. The intricately designed 'logos' of the photographers, proudly displayed on photographs of that time, not only add an attractive, basically art-deco design but also provide a valuable source of information to photographic researchers.
Anon: This photograph, taken in Valletta, depicts a well-posed group with curious bystanders in the background; c.1900–1910. (Simon Cusens collection).
The publication traces the origins and evolution of photography on our island and documents the many fascinating stories of Malta's leading photographers. Its timeline expands from the first French photographers who introduced the medium to our island and moves on to the British exponents who were, in turn, followed by the early pioneer Maltese photographers. The book’s engaging narrative proceeds up to the dawn of digital technology and contains a treasure trove of over 500 vintage photographs which, in their vast majority, are being reproduced for the first time. This work provides a much needed seminal reference as well as an intriguing and in-depth insight into the course that has been travelled by Maltese photography and its leading exponents. The book’s publication was made possible through the financial assistance of APS Bank Limited, contains 400 pages and is hard-bound with a dust cover.
'Few, if any, others could have combined the expertise, the passion and determination which coalesced in Casha to drive him to build up the many layers of this volume…. At this stage, I would be tempted to designate Casha’s work as the definitive historical textbook of photography in Malta. It is hard, not to say impossible, to imagine much more being added to the core, it is so comprehensive in scope, so deep in reflection, so exhaustive in detail.'
(Dr. Giovanni Bonello – former judge of the European Court of Human Rights and historical researcher) In Photography in Malta – the History and the Protagonists, I have attempted to investigate numerous angles and aspects of local photography and its protagonists, hopefully making this publication an informative and user-friendly yet academic reference for future scholars of the subject.
Users of this book will eventually determine whether I have been successful or not.
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