Episodes from the Passion of Our Lord are annually retold through various media but one of the most striking remains salt.
The Domus Pius IX of Cospicua has been setting up a Last Supper display since 1954, annually drawing hundreds to their premises along the stepped Matty Grima Street. At first, the members used cereal grains and split peas to create their artworks, but in 1968 they introduced salt. Soon after, they started experimenting with coloured salt.
This year, the display features about 90 ‘plates’ of art made of salt, rice and pasta. The theme Irgħa in-Nagħaġ Tiegħi (Tend my Sheep) focuses on St Peter, the first disciple of Jesus and the first Pope of the Catholic Church.
Many of the scenes narrate episodes from the saint’s life through replicas of famous artworks such as Guercino’s St Peter Weeping Before the Virgin (1647) and Bernardo Strozzi’s The Release of St Peter (circa 1635) and Caravaggio’s The Crucifixion of St Peter (1601).
“Instead of painting with a brush, these artists use a teaspoon,” art critic E.V. Borg commented.
“It’s a laborious process as each scene is very detailed and replete with religious symbolism,” he added.
Each side of the long, central table dominating the main hall of the society’s premises, features a main artwork, surrounded by smaller ones. These include replicas of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci and The Resurrection of Christ by Raphael, an image of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary and also a portrait of Pope Francis.
Each scene is very detailed and replete with religious symbolism
About 15 members of the Domus – the youngest of whom is nine years old and the oldest 72 – work on the display for months.
After Bible studies expert Fr Karm Attard chooses the theme, the members start colouring the different media, designing the plates and then spend long hours placing one grain of rice next to the other with tweezers or gently sprinkling salt with a teaspoon. They do this while being fully aware that their work will end up in the trash once the exhibition is over.
Apart from the ‘flat’ scenes, the society is renowned for a ‘translucent’ and low-relief scene made out of white salt lit from below. The artist, Laurence Hili, who is also the society’s PRO, was this year inspired by Michelangelo’s Pietà.
Other items on display at the Domus is the ‘Golgotha’ or what the society likes to call the ‘Holy Friday crib’, recreating scenes from the Passion with figurines. There are also stained glass crafts and other works involving engraved glass.
The exhibition is open today from 9.30am until late, tomorrow from 8am to 11pm, on Saturday from 9.30am to 12.30pm and from 5 to 9.30pm, and on Easter Sunday from 9.30am to noon.
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