The Gozo Ministry has found itself in a quandary after a €209,000 sculpture it commissioned by direct order for a remote and pristine area of coastline has been deemed “completely incompatible” and “out of context” by various regulatory authorities.
The Shift is informed that while the Planning Authority is currently preparing its recommendation on a planning development application filed by the ministry’s permanent secretary John Borg, the unique initiative could turn out to be a complete waste of public funds.
Apart from various objections from the owners of the centuries-old salt pans in the remote area of Xwejni, who claim the area earmarked for the installation of an eight-legged bronze horse statue is their private property, all the public authorities consulted so far – the Design Advisory Committee, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage – have given it the thumbs down.
In no uncertain terms, the three Authorities told the PA that the sculpture did not make any sense and could be an eyesore marring the remote and otherwise pristine surroundings.
All those consulted recommended the PA not issue the permit as the sculpture would be entirely out of context and incompatible with the area.
They also suggested that the ministry, once it had already committed to the almost quarter of a million euro expense, should find a more suitable spot “in a more urban area of the coastline or even inland”.
Some objectors described the installation as “senseless” and a complete “waste of money” and gave reasons: “The installation will attract more people to the remote area where salt is still manufactured in the pens. This will mean damage to the industry and the already fragile rock,” one objector said.
“Bronze on the edge of the coast, in an area known for its rough seas in inclement weather, do not really go together. The statue will be finished in a few years,” another frequent visitor familiar with the area told the PA.
The Shift last October revealed that €209,000 had been awarded to renowned Gozitan artist Austin Camilleri for the sculpture.
When contacted over the fact that the sculpture was to be installed in the middle of nowhere, the artist defended the location, saying, “The sculpture is site-specific”.
Camilleri had also rubbished claims that the earmarked area is privately owned, stating that “the site is government property and is not leased”.
Neither Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri nor his Permanent Secretary John Borg has explained the €209,000 decision.