The Melita Foundation, which was launched in early 2020 with initial funding of €500,000, is, through a donation to the University of Malta’s Research, Innovation & Development Trust (RIDT), supporting the conservation of Matteo Perez d’Aleccio’s Great Siege wall painting cycle in the Palace of the President, Valletta.
The donation is one of the Foundation’s first significant contributions to the protection of Malta’s cultural heritage which, together with safeguarding the environment and promoting digital skills, is one of its key areas of focus. The project, being overseen by the University’s Department of Conservation and Built Heritage, will in fact preserve an extraordinarily important historical document which defines the history of art in Malta.
Professor Tanya Sammut-Bonnici, Chairperson of the Melita Foundation, said, “Perez d’Aleccio’s Great Siege wall cycle was painted between 1575 and 1581, within 10 to 15 years of the event itself. Drawing on many eyewitness accounts it is the most detailed and historically accurate visual document of the Siege. This, combined with the fact that it is the first monumental painted scheme commissions by the Order of St John, without doubt makes the wall cycle one of Malta’s most important and precious works of art. The Melita Foundation is collaborating with RIDT to ensure this masterpiece can continue to serve as an important symbol of Malta’s identity for generations to come.”
Perez d’Aleccio’s cycle had already undergone partial conservation in 2001-2005. This project, however, was not completed, leaving approximately one third of the paintings still in need of conservation. Using updated conservation methods, the University of Malta is now stabilising those parts of the wall cycle which were not covered by the previous project, removing surface soiling which currently darkens the images, and improving the legibility of the cycle as a whole.
Wilfred Kenely, CEO at RIDT, said, “The main objectives of RIDT are to further study and knowledge across all areas at the University of Malta. This entails not only supporting research within the university, but also supporting work which the various Faculties and Departments carry out in the field. In conserving the Perez d’Aleccio wall cycle, the Department of Conservation and Built Heritage which is staffed by experts in conservation, archaeology and cultural heritage management, is leading one of Malta’s most important conservation projects ever. It is an arduous and expensive undertaking and we are grateful to organisations such as the Melita Foundation who recognise the value of this work and contribute towards ensuring it is successfully completed.”
The creation of the Melita Foundation was made possible by an initial donation of €500,000 from Apax Partners, the owners of Melita Limited until May 2019. With the full support of the communications company’s current owners, EQT, all of the Foundation’s expenses will be funded entirely by Melita Limited, meaning that 100 per cent of the funds available to the Foundation will be used to support projects. More information on the Melita Foundation and how to apply for funding is available at www.melitafoundation.org.