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Abstract from

MALTESE LACE of the NINETEENTH and TWENTIETH CENTURIES

Its History, Technology and Economic Appreciation (Aspects)

Consiglia Azzopardi

March 2013


This study is a follow up to another one investigating artistic considerations and technical innovations of lace made in the Maltese Islands until the end of the eighteenth century; this thesis covers the characteristics of lace made during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, meriting its name as Maltese Lace.

Historic events that led the Maltese Islands to pass from under the Order of St John, the French, the British and beyond, depict demographic patterns and social classeswherein lace making had prospered. Different cultures introduced into Malta affected the administrative and spoken language of the inhabitants, which accounts for the terms in lace vocabulary. The church was directed to use its influence to promote lace education as a means to relieve unemployment, often acting as saviour of ecclesiatical vestments. Philanthropists settling in Malta contributed to the rediscovery of lace and its development according to the fashion in Europe, thus attracting Royal interest in Maltese Lace.

Although lace historians credit Maltese lace to British philanthropists, tracking the whereabouts of existing lace artifacts shows that the Rennaissance in the industry took place in Gozo, as an immediate result of Genoese lace workers who settled in Malta as political refugees during the Risorgimento. The theory that the Bishop Conservatory in Gozo housed the early lace teaching was confirmed by a contemporary, Dun Giuseppe Diacono, who was the only writer to document the history and development of the lace technique branching off in Gozo. Artists and teachers, artisans and merchants, working together with the new technique in Gozo, succeeded in producing masterpieces imprinting Maltese Lace with the most typical Maltese Cross and the borrowed wheat-ears stitch which they named Moski. Experiments at simplifying the technique caused stages to develop one after the other; Census statistics show that production was all the time subject to the economic situations mainly as a substitute to the decaying weaving and spinning industry.

International and Maltese Exhibitions held during the nineteenth century confirm the dominance of Gozo’s contribution in quantity and quality to Maltese Lace. The glorious days during the third quarter of the nineteenth century expose the important role of Maltese Blondes in white or black, with short periods producing yellow and multicoloured silk laces. Masterpieces remaining in the island are those found in Church and with its high-rank ministers – Bishop and Monsigneurs. The rest, being commercial laces, were exported thus forming the bulk of Maltese trade until the turn of the century.

The last decades of the century witnessed the opening of a model school-factory catering for female education and for the establishment of an industrial system training employment from the home. Dun Giuseppe Diacono, promoter of the House of Industry in Gozo, who was also the designer to supply the house, exploited the foreign market by designing for the fashion of the time. Leaving behind him a legacy of original designs for Gozo Lace, he established a picture of the standard achieved by his time.

Blue print designs were a new development of the early twentieth century, resulting from the formation of the Malta Industries Association with Cecilia de Trafford as the key-player, again in Gozo. In reaction more prolific designers cropped up during the twentieth century and there were yet more masterpieces produced that ended up with the Royal family. A set-back to the lace industry in Gozo, caused by industrialisation and the opening of textile factories, resulted in some years of lacuna after which lace emerged as an art and no longer as a substantial industry.

Prospects are being studied in the light of modern means of education and employment. Scientific teaching will help with the conservation of heritage pieces and augurs a sound hand-over of our traditional Maltese lace in the hope that it will be better appreciated by the future generation.

Calendar
Notices
Seminar by Prof. John Baldacchino
This seminar entitled 'Mediterranean Aesthetics and the Uncolonial' is going to be held on 14 March at 6.00pm in the Mediterranean Institute, Ir-Razzett tal-Hursun farmhouse, University of Malta
Next Seminar
'Pioneers of the 3S Escapes: George Sand and Frederic Chopin in Valldemossa' by Dr Julia Szottysek. The seminar is going to be held on 15 February at 18.00 hrs in the Mediterranean Institute farmhouse, University of Malta. 
The Journal of Mediterranean Studies available online
The Journal of Mediterranean Studies (ISSN: 1016-3476) published by the Mediterranean Institute at the University of Malta is now available online through the prestigious Project Muse platform.
Forthcoming Seminar: 'The Malta-Scicli Connection in Early Modernity'
The next seminar 'The Malta-Scicli Connection in Early Modernity' by Dr Ivan Grech is to be held on Tuesday 30th January at 6.00pm at the Mediterranean Institute farmhouse.
Religious Marriages in the Mediterranean - An Interdisciplinary Conference
This conference will be held at the University of Malta on the 20 - 21 March 2018.
Next Seminar Series
Our first speaker on the Mediterranean Institute Seminar Series is Dr Jean-Paul Baldacchino, Head of the Department of Anthropological Sciences and Director of the Mediterranean Institute - University of Malta. The Seminar entitled "Cultural Hybridity and the Mediterranean? Neapolitan Music and Renato Carosone" is going to be held on the 23 November at 18.00 hrs in the Mediterranean Institute Farmhouse.
Next Seminar
The next seminar entitled 'Stressful life events, health and well-being: historical and cultural perspectives' by Professor Mark Jackson (University of Exeter) is going to be held on 27th October 2016 at 17:30hrs at the Mediterranean Institute (Razzett tal-Hursun) University of Malta.
Beauty and the Hospital in History: Call for Papers

The eleventh conference of the International Network for the History of Hospitals is going to be held 6th - 8th April 2017.

MediterrAsians - Affinities in Society, Geography, History, Culture
This conference is going to be held on 16 February 2017.
Public Seminar - Caribbean Radicals, a new Italian Saint, and a Feminist Challenge
This public seminar is going to be held on Tuesday 9 February at 17.30 at the Mediterranean Institute Farmhouse. Lecturer: Professor Marcel van der Linden (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam). 
Public Seminar
Professor Eric Dursteler ( Brigham Young University) will be delivering a lecture entitled 'Of Women Learned in the Tongues': Gender and Language in the Early Modern Mediterranean on Thursday 19th November at 12.00 hrs at the Mediterranean Institute farmhouse, Ir-Razzett tal-Hursun, University of Malta. 
Public Seminar - The Local and the Global: Malta, Media and Empire in the Mediterranean World, 1920s-1960s
This public seminar is going to be held next Thursday 22 October at 17.30 at the Mediterranean Institute Farmhouse. Lecturer: Dr Chandrika Kaul (Faculty of Modern History, University of St Andrews, Scotland)
Supervision for M.A./Ph.D research
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2016 International Mediterranean Conference
"Transnational imaginaries: the Mediterranean past and presence" - The fourth conference in the series organised by the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Busan University of Foreign Studies and the Mediterranean Institute at the University of Malta will be held on the 27-28 January 2015. Further information available here.
Public Seminar - Transhipments of Slaves: Relations between Malta and the British Consuls in the late 19th century.
Dr Michael Refalo will be delivering this public seminar on 12th May 2015 at 17.30 hrs. Venue: Mediterranean Institute, Ir-Razzett tal-Hursun, University of Malta, Msida.
Registration Open for the Mediterranean Fractures International Symposium
Online registration for the forthcoming Mediterranean Fractures international symposium, hosted by the Mediterranean Institute in collaboration with the University of Kent and the Associazione Italiana di Studi sulle Culture e Letterature di Lingua Inglese (AISCLI), is now open. The registration portal and conference website can be accessed here: http://www.um.edu.mt/events/mediterranean2015/home
Public Seminar - Re-Igniting Passion on Issues of Development: Active learning and learning by doing in Global Development Issue.
Dr Alex Apostolides (European University of Cyprus) will be delivering this public seminar on 29 April 2015 at 17.00hrs. Venue: Mediterranean Institute, Ir-Razzett tal-Hursun, University of Malta.
Public Seminar: British Labour and Britain's Mediterranean Empire. The case of Malta.
Prof. Andrew Thorpe (University of Exeter) will be delivering this public seminar on 23rd April 2015 at 1730hrs. Venue: Mediterranean Institute, Ir-Razzett tal-Ħursun, University of Malta. 
Public Seminar: Necessity and Choice, Tradition and Invention (17 Mar.)
Prof. Carmel Cassar will be delivering a public seminar entitled 'Necessity and Choice, Tradition and Invention. The making of Mediterranean Diet' on Tuesday 17 March 2015 at 1730hrs. Venue: Mediterranean Institute, Ir-Razzett tal-Ħursun, University of Malta.
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Research Projects

The Mediterranean Institute has launched the following three trans-disciplinary research projects as part of its research strategy for the next three years. Academics and independent scholars who are interested in contributing to any one of these research teams should contact the principal coordinator of this research programme: Prof John Chircop.  

The research themes are: Development and Underdevelopment in the Mediterranean; Water; Thalassic Imaginaries - the Narratives of Sea Communities. For further details please click here.

Call for Papers
Call for Papers for the international conference: Intercultural Hybridity in Mediterranean Civilizations

Public Seminar: Sicilian Symmetrical Identity (19 Feb)
The next seminar entitled 'Sicilian Symmetrical Identity: between the Mediterranean and the European Continent' is going to be delivered by Prof. Jung Ha Kim of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Busan University of Foreign Studies, South Korea on 19 February 2015 at the Mediterranean Institute, Ir-Razzett tal-Ħursun, University of Malta at 1730 hrs.
Mediterranean under Quarantine Programme and Abstracts
For the Programme please click here. To access the Abstract please click here.
Thalassic Imaginaries Conference
Thalassic Imaginaries: the Mediterranean Sea in Language, Art and Other forms of representation is going to be held on the 23 and 24 of January 2015 at the Mediterranean Institute, Ir-Razzett tal-Hursun - University of Malta. For the programme please click here.
 
 
Last Updated: 10 May 2013

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