An exhibition of mosaic and miniature art at the Ministry of Gozo marks a joint collaboration between a Maltese and a Pakistani artist.

Every Road is a River features the works of well-established Gozitan mosaicist Mary Portelli and Karachi-based visual artist and writer Rabia S. Akhtar, who is known for creating surreal paintings that reflect the fantastical stories she writes.

The two met in June 2018 through an Artist-in-Residence programme supported by  the Valletta 2018 Foundation and Fondazzjoni Kreattività.

The exhibition, which was originally planned for last April, but was postponed due to the pandemic, is multifaceted.

Through her bold mosaic technique, Portelli tackles various subjects, varying from the destruction of the environment to experiences of pain, hope, joy, love, limitations and the unknown.

Beyond the (Garden) Wall of Silence, porcelain/ceramic statuettes, mirror, by Mary PortelliBeyond the (Garden) Wall of Silence, porcelain/ceramic statuettes, mirror, by Mary Portelli

Every winding road in life offers infinite concealed possibilities

Akhtar titled her work Imaginary Friends as she investigates the wishful realm of desire that forms the undertones of mankind’s complex relationship with animals.

The two artists together produced Nine Doors, a mosaic panel inspired by Akhtar’s research and interaction with Gozitan artisans and craftsmen during her stay on the island.

“The narrative is about a honey-coloured vessel with nine glass doors that wanders in the sky,” Portelli explains.

“The vessel houses a secret market, obscured by the many coloured doors. Within the quirky ship, flamboyant artisans and craftsmen create beautiful, whimsical objects and seek to capture the phantom-like fish that journey the skies.”

Nine Doors, mixed media, by Mary Portelli and Rabia S. Akhtar. Photos: Charles SpiteriNine Doors, mixed media, by Mary Portelli and Rabia S. Akhtar. Photos: Charles Spiteri

Portelli believes that exhibition proves that art has no boundaries.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” the Gozitan artist claims.

“Despite the distance and difficulties encountered, Rabia and I have been in contact since collaborating in the AiR programme. And despite our difference in age, nationality and artistic expression, we have manged to put up a unique set of exhibits.

Every Road is a River also shows that there is no limit to an artist’s imagination, be it the creation of a whimsical world or in the expression of ideas and emotions.

“As the title alludes, every winding road in life offers infinite concealed possibilities. Let us all keep looking ahead positively!,” Portelli says.

The exhibition is being held at the Exhibition Hall, Ministry for Gozo, St Francis Square, Victoria, until September 27. Opening hours: weekdays from 8.30am to 12.30pm and on weekends and public holidays from 10am to 1pm.

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