The Malta Independent 18 April 2024, Thursday
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Book review: Honouring unpretentious hard workers

Noel Grima Sunday, 26 February 2023, 09:05 Last update: about 2 years ago

'Post-war protagonists of Maltese photography'
Author: Kevin Casha
Publisher: Midsea Books / 2022
Pages: 326

 

I would like to begin this review by thanking the author for giving due credit to a number of professionals, my father included, who otherwise would have been forgotten.

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My family joins me in this and this book has made us inordinately proud. So too, I expect, the families of the dead photographers mentioned in the book - Blackman, Ciancio, Agius, Bellizzi, Axisa, Di Stefano, Ellis, Felice, etc.

Mostly these found themselves taking on a new skill after World War II and creating an illusion of affluence with their Holy Communions, weddings, etc. Many operated from shops and many times these passed from father to son.

A special reference must be made to Giuseppe Cassar aka Peppinu, my father's boss at Cassar tar-ritratti in Hamrun and his unique tale of ending up an internee in Italy during the war and how he escaped from prison and found a wife at the same time.

The author, with his long militancy in associations of photography, naturally gives prominence to the members of said associations, as is only right.

Then there are the others - from Domenic Aquilina to Carmel H. Psaila to John D. Nunns to Joe Attard to Jonathan Beacom to Lino Arrigo Azzopardi and so many others.

It must not have been easy for the author to get details about each and every photographer in the book.

Having said that, I must register my disappointment at so many photographers who were left out. Daniel Cilia, who published many books of photos about Malta, said somewhere he refused to be included.

But I wonder what kept my former colleagues out, like Rene Rossignaud whose defining image in my mind is lying spreadeagled on the steeple of the Floriana church during a Mass by the Pope and who later risked again his life covering the fighting in Libya and then actually got hurt in Syria.

Or Jonathan Borg, whose photos covered many back pages of The Times. Or Matthew Mirabelli. At least there is Darrin Zammit Lupi.

Also missing are the hard-working photographers of Maltese language newspapers who day in day out cover all that is happening in this country of ours.

Some have also remarked on the very meagre presence of women photographers at a time when so many women have taken up photography, some in a professional way.

This is an admirable coffee table book with so many photos, a travelogue through post-war Malta.

The book also reflects the difficulties in setting up photography as a subject in tertiary education and the other difficulty in setting up of an association of Maltese photographers. That too is our past, unfortunately.


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