Starting from this month a series of interviews will be published with people who are either involved with Bir Mula Heritage or who have exhibited work / delivered talks at the museum house. The first interview is with Reuben Chircop, a talented photographer who at the moment is exhibiting 10 of his photographic pieces at Bir Mula Heritage.
Bir Mula Heritage: Reuben, what attracted you in particular in Bormla so much that you decided to organise an exhibition entirely dedicated to this city?
Reuben Chircop: I have been taking photographs and exhibiting them in different places for quite a long time and overlooking the grand harbour from Valletta there was a city that I always wanted to visit in photographic terms. I am not very familiar with Bormla and unfortunately the media does not help very much neither. So together with a friend of mine fond of the whereabouts I decided to make a nightly visit so as not have any distractions. My intention was primarily to re-enact the past.
BMH: What was your impression of Bormla before this exhibition, and did this change afterwards?
RC: As I stated before I did not have a totally positive opinion of Bormla and unfortunately this is all due to undefined proof of occurrences that the media usually highlights. Today I think that Bormla has much to offer especially to relay the past that should not be forgotten with passage of modernism. I have found many interesting corners and passageways that I am excited to visit on other occasions.
BMH: How does Bir Mula Heritage (the house) appear through the eyes of a photographer?
RC: The first time I entered Bir Mula I remained flabbergasted for the simple reason that it contains so much character from different eras that the place needs no words to be described. The place gives enough space for the visitor to move around freely and has those exterior areas which give a refreshing experience. I fell in love with the place especially the underground part where it displays its beauty at its best.
BMH: This website is illustrated through a lot of pictures taken by you. How does Bir Mula Heritage appear through the lens of your camera?
RC: Bir Mula is an inspiration to me and I am sure that if given the opportunity I would not refrain from photographing different areas of this building incessantly. It is a place full of character and mood, I mean I can control light to fall on the right places without difficulty here and it is easy to find key areas for specific expressions. I think the place is really inspiring.
BMH: Do you recommend Bir Mula Heritage to other artists for them to exhibit their work?
RC: I would not only recommend other artists to display but I would also recommend workshops or inspirational sessions for group of artists of different mediums to gather up and bring up a collective piece or pieces of art created specifically at Bir Mula and display in the same place.
BMH: Where else can one view your photographs?
RC: I obviously have a website (which can be viewed by clicking here) where one can view some of my shots through the gallery. Moreover I still have the exhibition at Bir Mula going on and another exhibition in Valletta at ‘Trattoria Omerta’ in Old Bakery Street. I also have an exhibition scheduled for August in Valle Di Ledro In Italy.
BMH: Do you have any plans for further exhibitions in 2010 (in Bormla, The Three Cities, Malta and maybe abroad)?
RC: Yes currently as I said I have an exhibition about Valletta in Valletta. However that is coming to an end at the end of June. This exhibition will then be taken to Italy. However I will be having a new exhibition at Trattoria Omerta which will be launched in July. More details will be available on my website.
BMH: Are your photos for sale?
RC: I consider my work as pieces of art simply because they are my feelings and my expressions using a photographic medium. In reality I feel that my photos are myself, the hidden me that finds comfort through my images. Each piece of every collection can be purchased but this is usually not the main reason why I exhibit my work. However, I do get occasional requests for a purchase of some specific shots. Each shot is carefully developed on high quality paper and framed up to top specs. I inspect every shot after development, after mounting and then after the framing process. I am very careful for detail so even if the development is perfect but the mounting or framing is not just right, for me that is unacceptable and has to be replaced.
BMH: What other plans have you got as regards photography?
RC: I have been for a long time planning to do a calendar consisting of two forms of art and that is photography and thought. It has been a wish for quite a long time so at the moment I am on the lookout for possible sponsors who would join forces and bring this dream to reality. My intention is to sell this calendar even abroad in different countries to be able to inspire as much viewers as possible. I also have produced a book last year with the same idea, some photos that interact directly with some thoughts of my own. I might produce something similar towards the end of this year or early next year.
While thanking Reuben for this interview you can see Reuben on the right hand side of the photograph shown in the beginning of this interview. In this photo Reuben is discussing one of his photos with President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici at Bir Mula Heritage.