€200,000 for a sculpture in a remote, uninhabited area of Gozo

The government intends to spend more than €200,000 for a Gozitan artist to produce a still-unidentified new sculpture and to place it in one of the most remote areas of Gozo, far from the foreshore and next to historic and still productive saltpans.

The saltpan’s owners, who make a living from the area, have objected to the prospect.  They claim the area is their private property and not public land and that the artistic installation will bring more visitors to the area, which will disturb the saltpans and their livelihood.

The Shift is informed that through a planning application filed last August by the Gozo Ministry’s Permanent Secretary John Borg, a planning permit was requested to install “a public sculpture along the coast” on Triq Is-Sagħtrija on the outskirts of Żebbuġ.

The area, better known as Xwejni, is one of the few remaining untouched areas of the island, usually only frequented by the saltpans’ owners and a few divers.

Asked to explain why the ministry chose a remote area in the middle of nowhere to install such an expensive sculpture, Borg did not reply. Neither did he reply to questions about what the sculpture will represent, who chose the remote area for its installation and who from the ministry had decided to spend such funds on the sculpture.

The Shift can report that the sculpture’s commissioning was awarded to renowned Gozitan artist Austin Camilleri in 2021 through a negotiated procedure – a form of direct order – for the sum of €209,000. It is still unclear whether the fee is all-inclusive,  covering the statue’s mounting, or whether it is only for the artwork by Camilleri.

Gozitan artist Austin Camilleri

When contacted, the artist confirmed that he had been selected by the Gozo ministry to produce an artistic installation, but he did not divulge any details of its subject matter or why the remote spot had been chosen.

Insisting that it would not be a monument, Camilleri told The Shift that the installation would not commemorate any event or person.

“It is a public sculpture awarded after a public call in 2021, and, as most of my sculptures, it’s site-specific,” Camilleri told The Shift. “The site is important to the work, and it should be installed in the second half of 2023.”

Asked about claims that the area in question is private property, Camilleri told The Shift that “The Lands Authority confirmed that the site is government property and that it is not leased.”

Questions sent to the Lands Authority remained unanswered.

The uninhabited area in Xwejni where the sculpture will be located

This is not the first time substantial public funds have been used by Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri to award work to his constituents.

Apart from having recently granted €166,000 to Gozitan artist Vincent Caruana for a large bronze sculpture at the Mġarr Marina, he also paid €350,000 in direct orders to various companies for the installation of a large statue of St Francis of Assisi in front of his ministerial offices in Victoria.

The monument – dedicated to a saint associated with poverty – was inaugurated in the presence of Prime Minister Robert Abela during a massive party for Camilleri’s constituents in the summer of 2021 and was financed through various direct orders.

                           
                           
                               
guest

13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
D M Briffa
D M Briffa
1 month ago

At a time when we should be trimming non-essential expenditure as much as we can we get this nonsense. Proof, not that it is needed, that the country is being run by total idiots.

George Grech
George Grech
1 month ago
Reply to  D M Briffa

Hallas it taxxi gahan, ghamel is sagrificcji, sabiex il ministru jkollu xi jharbat.

Pembroke
Pembroke
1 month ago

Unless this guy is really world famous it looks like there is a digit too much in this order. Hopefully there are logical explanations why the amount is so inflated, I cannot imagine there could be rent seeker payments increasing the bill.

Charles
Charles
1 month ago
Reply to  Pembroke

This monstrosity will be quite attractive to vandalism, graffitti “artists” and hunters with itchy fingers on their lupara. Perhaps this piece of remote wilderness is earmarked by Portelli or some other friend of Castile to build a few hundred apartments and a shopping complex in the future and this deformed horse will be the centrepiece! As for the reason for the extra zero in the price tag…well I’ll give you one guess!

Greed
Greed
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles

He better hide it well from Anton the heritage thief?

Carmelo Borg
1 month ago

Naqta rasi li il molument li se jaghmel il ministru ta ghawdex se ikun “IL GEBLA LI HA IL MINISTRU REFALO poggija fil gnien tieghu .U il FIGURA TA REFALO IS SERRAH FUQ A.

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

I must admit that sometimes I do question my sanity.
But this news brought me a smile. I am NOT insane, it’s this corrupt government that has really lost it.
A total waste of public funds. It would be better to remove that turd on a pedestal in front of Castille and dump it in the deepest part of the Mediterranean.
But the way this government throws away taxpayers’funds is possible unique. Buying votes is expensive so we the taxpayers have to fund this rubbish.

J Spiteri
J Spiteri
1 month ago

What about the hideous statue in the roundabout in Attard near the petrol station? What does it stand for and whose ‘brilliant’ idea was this?

G F
G F
1 month ago

The area, better known as Xwejni, is one of the few remaining untouched areas of the island, usually only frequented by the saltpans’ owners and a few divers.

A few hundred divers per year to be correct

Last edited 1 month ago by G F
Charles
Charles
1 month ago

Once this expensive, crappy monstrosity is erected on this remote uninhabited piece of land…it will become a haven for graffiti “artists” and a sure target for vandals and brainless hunters with an itchy finger on their ” lupara”. Why the extra 0 in the 200,000….the mind boggles but I’ll give you one guess or two!

Greed
Greed
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles

It should be put in ARs garden but will probably end up there anyway as past experience has taught us

Annie
Annie
1 month ago

I wonder if the artist is related …

Gozitan
Gozitan
1 month ago

I think it’s better the Minister spend the money somewhere where people can take their children. In Gozo there are no recreation places like Malta. Gozo turned into a graveyard. Gozo is the place where Foreigners retire and die here. Wake up Mimistru you done nothing yet on your behalf.

Related Stories

Junior minister takes family on holiday to Sicily, with his ministerial car
Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Chris Bonet, who until
Robert Abela and Joseph Muscat accused of crimes against humanity at ICC
Current Prime Minister Robert Abela and his predecessor Joseph

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo