New & now
This innovative exhibition will revive the Malta filigree tradition
The SELFMADE exhibition on 27th March is not just filigree with a difference, it is the beginning of a revolution.

Melanie Drury

Kevin Attard and Eric Attard are on a mission. A filigree artist and a designer have teamed up to create filigree that is innovative, exciting and appealing to contemporary tastes. Not merely in the name of fashion; they hope to revive an interest in Malta’s dying art.

What is filigree?

A tradition that was introduced to the Maltese Islands during Phoenician times, filigree is a delicate art using fine threads of silver or gold to create jewellery or ornaments. It is a rare case of an artisan’s skill being valued even more than the material used - a fascinating process worth watching.

The SELFMADE exhibition

In a quest to demonstrate the versatility of filigree and target new interest, Kevin and Eric have produced a collection of filigree art that can be enjoyed by men. Contemporary filigree pendants for men will be displayed on 27th March at the Malta Society of Arts between 6pm and 10pm, for one night only. Another collection will be launched in November 2018.

But beyond that, these exhibitions represent a different take on filigree, which is of local cultural interest. 

“Somehow, I will find a way to continue the filigree tradition in Malta - this is my passion and my life and I want to pass on the legacy," says Kevin.

Eric Attard, a creative designer, has been instrumental in manifesting Kevin’s wish to transform the way people look at filigree art. Together, they put together this project, six months in the making.

Innovation

Kevin admits he abandoned the Maltese eight-pointed cross motif over ten years ago. He explained how fierce competition due to imported filigree of good quality, attractive design and a cheaper price has led to an ever-dwindling number of Maltese artisans. For him, it was a matter of stepping up or stepping out. 

“The traditional motifs, such as the cross and the butterfly, are still popular, but I just gave them up and went the other way. Usually, filigree designs are symmetrical, but my inspiration was abstract and asymmetrical. The pieces are unique - even I can’t reproduce them.”

Custom made

Kevin can also custom make anything. The strangest commissions have included a 16cm x 16cm silver filigree toilet for a miniature toilet collection, a full skull and functional sex toys such as chastity belts, collars and masks.

“Whatever anyone wants made out of filigree, I can and will make it for them,” he says.

Kevin began making filigree at just 13 years of age. In 2000, he ventured into his first experimental filigree with an innovative exhibition of filigree sculptures. He has also developed his own signature trays and real masks made with thicker wire.

Kevin will demonstrate filigree-making and answer questions on the day of the event.

Tradition

Kevin is concerned with more than just his own survival as a full-time filigree artist. He explains how, just 25 years ago, at the Ta’Qali Crafts Village, there would be over 40 people in a row working filigree. Now, only a handful of truly knowledgeable and skilled filigree artists remain on the island, although there are many hobbyists. He himself has taught over 2,000 students in 20 years, but none of them become professional, truly skilled artists.

“In five to ten years, there will be no more really skilled Maltese filigree artists, unless something is done about it. I have some ideas on how to continue the filigree tradition in Malta - I know I have the means, I just need some investment. Without the investment or support, I will have to find another way - this is my passion and my life. I have valuable knowledge and skill to share, and I want to leave the legacy for future generations.”

15th March 2018


Melanie Drury
Written by
Melanie Drury
Melanie was born and raised in Malta and has spent a large chunk of her life travelling solo around the world. Back on the island with a new outlook, she realised just how much wealth her little island home possesses.

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