Masks inspired by elements of Valletta’s life, physicality and its people are the subject of an exhibition titled Hidden Island, currently on display at the Valletta local council hall.

The quirky artefacts are the result of Valletta Cultural Agency’s first artist-in-residence programme, InnovAir 2019, which saw Italian creative Francesca Lombardi living and working in Valletta for two weeks.

Ms Lombardi is a costume, props and set designer, who works between Italy and Iceland. She has collaborated with several design studios, including the Japanese Isao Hosoe. Her passion for manual creation also led her to work in stage and costume design, textiles and painting.

In 2012, she started collaborating with photographers and videographers to explore the identity of the human being through portraits behind masks, using different techniques and materials. She worked on masks for Harper’s Magazine and costumes for music videos. Her projects were exhibited in London, Milan, Moscow and Saratov in Russia and Wroclaw in Poland.

Italian artist Francesca Lombardi working on her masks.Italian artist Francesca Lombardi working on her masks.

The materials chosen were provided by artistans and Valletta community

During her stay in Malta, Ms Lombardi went around the capital city in search of locations and people which inspire her, as well as characteristic materials which could be used for her signature works of art.

The materials chosen were provided by artisans and other members of the Valletta community, who can be seen wearing Ms Lombardi’s masks in photos on display at the exhibition.

InnovAir was established this year along with the agency and its first cultural programme for Valletta, building upon the legacy of the artist-in-residence programme carried out by the Valletta 2018 Foundation for the European Capital of Culture.

The InnovAir programme was created to contribute to and enrich the national creative context, with Valletta as both motivator and beneficiary. Within the boundaries of the city, the residency will foster collaboration and networking between the artist/s and the local communities of artists, residents, workers and more, while encouraging sharing and the reinvention of different spaces and environments.

A second artist will be living and working in Valletta between the end of the month and the first week of December.

Hidden Island is on display at the Valletta local council hall in Republic Square until Sunday. Opening hours are between 10am and 7.30pm.

For more information and to stay updated with upcoming projects and events, like and follow the Valletta Cultural Agency’s Facebook page.

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