Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Day Six: Marsalforn and a visit to the local prison!

I-pad image - so clever!

Gozo: Day Six

The skies are blue, but the wind is still fierce, so painters head off to Marsalforn, a quaint harbour on the west coast of Gozo. In the summer it's buzzing with local and overseas holidaymakers. Considered the most popular tourist resort on this island, Masalforn was Gozo's most important port up until the 16th century. Today, a spring day, it is quiet. From a painting point of view, it is a feast of colour and texture with its myriad of boats, which are full of charm and character. Their vibrant palette of primary reds, blues and yellows make wonderful compositions. Each boat has a pair of eyes. This is the ancient Egyptian eye of Horus, a symbol of protection, royal power and good health.  I watch as our painters tuck themselves between boats and dutifully capture the coastal ambience. I admire their valiant efforts to keep going despite losing their palette and water on occasion to a sudden gust. Not as hardy as they, I draw one of two of them in the act of painting from a coffee shop window, holding tightly to my trusted friend Mr Latte.

Sheltering from the wind!
Egyptian eyes of Horus - a symbol of protection

Artist at work

I eventually find a sheltered spot in a tiny bay and do a couple of line drawings before an amazing picnic lunch of gorgeous healthy salads arrives prepared by Jason and his team. The minibus comes early to pick up weather-beaten painters while Ian and Carol kindly drop me in Victoria where I go back to the citadel walls and find the Prison Museum. I am intrigued by the markings on the wall left by the prisoners. Some are hand prints, galleons, some show evidence of games, but the most poignant are tiny line marks as if the inmate counted off the days he was there. I take rubbings of some of the graffiti and am moved by the mere fact I can touch the very etchings made by prisoners - many of whom would have been here for years. Some committed murders; others punished for more minor offences. However they were fed and treated well.

Prisoners graffiti

After I have done my time in the cells, I venture outside but not before being locked in the prison stocks by a member of the museum staff! She does allow be back out and I go off in the rain to find my bus home. I almost get blown into Xlendi bay by the wind and enjoy my cappuccino even more when I get back to the hotel. Roger gives his regular evening demonstrations to painting enthusiasts and we all congregate around our wedding-like table to catch up on the day's events and devour ravioli stuffed with cheese and other delightful cuisine.

Over my shoulder