Filigree: weaving intricate works of art
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Filigree: weaving intricate works of art

More modern and exquisite pieces being woven

Photos: Jonathan Borg

Photos: Jonathan Borg

The delicate art of filigree was introduced in Malta and all over the Mediterranean and beyond by the Phoenicians but its charm and prestige may have been somewhat lost over the centuries. 

Maltese filigree is most often associated with jewellery items such as pins, earrings and pendants featuring the eight-pointed cross that tourists would mostly purchase as a souvenir or gift. However, today’s artisans are weaving more modern and exquisite pieces with those fine threads of silver and gold.

Evidence of this are various original creations currently on display at the foyer of the Ministry of Education and Employment (MEDE) in Floriana. 

Titled Il-Filugranu f’Malta, the exhibition includes intricate and ornate objets d’art crafted by Sterling Jewellers. 

Among these are a crown and sceptre, a grandfather clock, a candelabra and a sailing ship. However, the star of the show is surely a Barbie doll wearing an outfit and matching handbag made out of this ancient art form. 

The exhibition forms part of a series titled L-Alternattiv Mhux Inferjuri (the alternative is not inferior) set up by the ministry to promote the My Journey: Achieving Through Different Paths programme which is being introduced in secondary State schools in September. 

Today’s artisans are weaving more modern and exquisite pieces with those fine threads of silver and gold

Two previous exhibitions focused on oil and water gilding techniques and pottery.

My Journey is one of the targets of the Framework for the Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024. Through this programme students will be able to study traditional subjects while choosing applied and vocational learning programmes as optionals at Year 9 (formerly Form 3).

Successful students will earn a SEAC – Secondary Education Applied Certificate. This is the equivalent of the SEC certificate awarded to students who pass their ‘O’ levels. 

A Barbie doll wearing a filigree dress and handbag is at the heart of an exhibition currently on at the Ministry of Education and Employment.A Barbie doll wearing a filigree dress and handbag is at the heart of an exhibition currently on at the Ministry of Education and Employment.

Vocational subjects were first promoted to secondary education certificate (SEC) level five years ago, when students could sit for five such subjects. Since then, the number of vocational subjects offered has steadily increased to include agribusiness, engineering technology, hairdressing and beauty, health and social care, hospitality, information technology, textiles and fashion, media literacy and retail.

Il-Filugranu f’Malta is open at the foyer of the Ministry of Education and Employment from Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm until March 31. Entrance is free.

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