Exhibition of historic watercolours opened at the National Archives Gozo

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Exhibition of historic watercolours opened at the National Archives GozoAn exhibition of historic watercolours of Gozitan Notary Antonio Portelli has been officially opened at the National Archives Gozo, by the Minister for Gozo Dr Justyne Caruana.

Speaking during the inauguration Dr Caruana appealed for government documents related to Gozo to be returned to the island.

Minister Caruana expressed her appreciation for the work being done in the Archives and said that it was regrettable that in the past some important documents from Gozo were taken to Malta and had never again returned to the island.

She also remarked that they now have to look ahead and start thinking of more appropriate space and facilities to house the Archives, which by its nature is always growing.

She stressed that it is imperative to safeguard the rich heritage of the island so that the memories of culture and lifestyle remain intact and accessible for years to come.

Minister Caruana stated that the Ministry for Gozo will help in the conservation and preservation of documents, for which financial assistance will be announced to ensure this is done.
Exhibition of historic watercolours opened at the National Archives GozoNotary Antonio Portelli was born in Rabat-Gozo on the 1st of March 1809, married twice, and died at the age of 67 on the 21st of January 1877.

He practised his profession in Gozo between 1839 and 1877. Exhibition: Historic watercolours of Gozitan Notary Antonio PortelliAntonio Portelli whiled away his free time by embellishing the title-pages of some of his notarial volumes with ink drawings and water colours.

His registers are therefore unique for this reason. The most interesting thing about his illustrations is that they reflect contemporary scenes and events.

His scenic water colours include the Cittadella in 1842; two views of Hagret tal-General at Dwejra, with the ropeway to the rock still in operation in the early 1840s; the partly excavated Ggantija Temples in 1844; a funeral procession on the occasion of the 1850 cholera outbreak; and Ta’ Gurdan Lighthouse in 1853, the year of its inauguration.

Dr Joseph Bezzina, the National Assistant Archivist and the person responsible for the Gozo Section, said that the section was established more than 29 years ago and the Archive had helped to save thousands of documents that would otherwise be lost, as had happened in the past.

He called for greater awareness of the role of the National Archives in Gozo, as well as an increase in the financial assistance available for the restoration of documents and other requirements.

Dr. Charles Farrugia, National Archivist, stressed the importance of the Gozo section for the protection of official documents and reiterated the need for the government to plan ahead for a more suitable location for the Archives.

He also presented the Minister with a collection of 144 documents related to Gozo dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, which had been handed over to the National Archives of Malta anonymously.

The exhibition is being held at the premises of the National Archives (Gozo Section), in Triq Vajringa, Victoria.

It will be open Monday to Saturday, from Thursday, the 22nd of March to Friday to the 20th of April, between 8.30am and 12.30pm – excluding public holidays. Entrance is free. The exhibition is supported by the Ministry for Gozo and HSBC.

Photographs: MGOZ/Terry Camilleri

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