Notte Bianca Retrospective # 16: The Look Book Part2

Welcome back!

Thank you so much for returning to read the second part of the “Look Book” thread. We have collected many pictures before and during the exhibition that it was impossible to put them all in one single post! Yesterday, you had a chance to see the Palace Messina from the outside, learn a bit more about its history and our gracious hosts: The German-Maltese Circle. Two exhibition rooms were also shown along with multiple pictures taken during the opening night on October the 1st 2011. But of course, we are not done yet. So sit tight and enjoy the virtual journey around The Palazzo Messina!

Chapel and the altar with the painting by Raymond Darmanin. Pictures provided by German-Maltese Circle. More information can be found here: http://www.germanmaltesecircle.org

THE SITTING ROOM BALCONY: We mentioned already that both exhibition rooms had balconies that were available to our visitors. In contrast to the open balcony of the Atrium, the Sitting Room’s balcony is a closed one, entirely covered with an original 18th century wooden “cage”: with solid roof and thin, decorated walls. Perhaps the term “balcony” is not the proper one to describe it: the narrow passage is attached to the building on the outside and connects the Sitting Room with the ballroom. It looks more like a gallery than a balcony, but it is being described as one even by the workers of the Palace. The balcony was covered for a reason. The passage has been built for the servants to move quickly between the lounge and the ballroom. It was used mostly during parties and balls. Kitchen helpers, maids and waiters could supply guests in both rooms at the same time with food and beverages without being practically seen by the party goers. At the picture below, Malicia and Martin strike crazy poses in the passage.

Martin and Malicia fooling around on the covered balcony. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

The balcony overlooks the Republic Street, one of the most frequented shopping promenades in the capitol city of Valletta. We took a lovely picture of the building right next to us from there, with a German flag flowing in the wind.

A view from The Sitting Room balcony. Picture by Malicia Dabrowicz

THE BALLROOM:  the biggest room in the palace is known today as the Karm Fenech Hall, named after the German-Maltese Circle founding member and the president between 1970 and 2001. The Hall serves as a main venue for all Circle events: from charity fundraisers, symposiums, business meetings to art exhibitions and concerts. It is a prime example of the Sicilian rococo style on Malta (also knows as the late Baroque), and one of the best preserved. 

Karm Fenech Hall picture by German-Maltese Circle. You can find more information here: http://www.germanmaltesecircle.org

The ballroom is curiously positioned. It is located on the first floor, right in the middle of the building. It is separated from The Sitting Room by a wall and connected to it with an outside covered passage. It also has a second balcony of its own: overlooking the Republic Street, and placed in the middle of the external façade of the Palace. The whole room is very well lit: three huge windows supply enough light during the day and an elaborate crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling illuminates the darkness at night.

Ballroom Hall by day. Picture by Malicia Dabrowicz

During the first two days of our exhibition, the guestbooks were displayed there, on especially prepared black pedestals.  Another picture shows the Hall in the evening, with the chandelier lights turned on.

The Main Hall by night and the chandelier picture by Raisa Tarasova

We couldn’t help ourselves and we had to take a close-up picture of the chandelier as well! We are sure that nothing like this is being made nowadays!

Chandelier details. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

The Ballroom is an architectonical masterpiece and a true sign of the status of the Messina Family. If you ever visit the audition chamber in The Grandmaster’s Palace before coming to MessinaPalace, you will quickly notice several similarities between both rooms. Before being divided into two Palaces (Messinaand Marina) the building was known as Casa Rocca Grande and was heavily inspired by the architecture of the Grandmaster’s Palace. Originally The Ballroom was built at the request of the Maltese Knights and served as the mediation room. In the 17th century a corridor connecting the Ballroom and the chapel has been bricked in and the Ballroom was decorated with colorful hand painted frescoes according to the latest fashion. The coat of arms of the Messina Family (a standing lion holding an anchor with three stars above him on a crowned shield) is hewn into the marble floor in the center of the room.

Messina Family coat of arms. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

The coat of arms is not only visible on the floor but also on the walls as fragment of the decorative panels. A close up picture shows incredible details and the amount of work that has been put into making the miniature: all lions are identical in size and were carefully painted.

Coat of arms again, this time as a decorative element on the wall. Picture by Raisa Tarasova

The ceiling of the ballroom has been painted in a deep blue color and is decorated with golden stars. On the walls you can see bouquets of flowers and plants winding around white oval frames with scenes taken fromValletta’s daily life. All elements are shaded and it gives the viewers an impression they are 3 dimensional. Clever trick!

Ceiling painting details. Picture by Raisa Tarasova

The paintings are varied; there are different vases and flowers in each corner of the ceiling. The next picture shows that the ceiling is a bit damaged and the paint started peeling off.  The reconstruction has been done nearly ten years ago but as the crack become bigger in recent months, it will need to be repeated in the near future.

Another ceiling painting details. Picture by Raisa Tarasova

We have taken several pictures on the opening night showing a large group of our visitors signing the guestbook displayed in the Ballroom. First picture shows the back of the easel with several guests in the background ready to write their comments and opinions.

Ballroom guestbook signing. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

Two women on the next picture are seen standing by the window reading. The majority of comments left in the books came from the ladies.

Women reading the guestbooks. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

Young people dominated among the visitors. The largest group was between the ages of 17 to 30. Most of them were tourists and students. Sometimes both at the same time 😀

Young people leaving comments. Picture by Malicia Dabrowicz.

The oldest person who left the comment in our guestbboks was born in 1940’s. A respected group of older people also signed the guestbooks. In the below picture, a man is his 50’s is looking at the description of one of the zodiac signs.

An older man is interested in one of the guestbooks. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

Two couples stopped by the pedestals to sign the guestbooks. The exhibition was a family friendly event and many arrived to see it along with their kids, friends and significant others.

Families leaving their comments. Picture by Raisa Tarasova.

Can you believe it that we have finally reached the end of our Notte Bianca coverage? It’s been three months since we started summarizing the event but it feels just like yesterday! 16 entries! It’s truly impressive, but you have it all now: pictures, scans, information, guestbooks, leaflets, descriptions, short stories… If you’d put all Notte Bianca entries uploaded to this blog together, they could be turned into a small book – we have written more than 65 pages of reports!

We are grateful for your assistance. Thank you so much! Please return soon as now we will be trying to recap other evens that took place in 2011!

Stay tuned,

Mal, Rita, Martin, Raisa and Matt.

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