[Photo: Prof. Godfrey Baldacchino and Mr Matthew Xuereb announcing the winner, Mr Keith Grima, who is picking up his prize]
Sun, seascape, whole stretches of sand or rock, and a deep blue ocean hosting a whole ecosystem of wonderful species – we are all lucky to be so close to such a rich resource, symbolic of civilisation, mobility, and of future prospects.
20 photographs shot by 13 University of Malta students celebrating the richness of our coastal heritage are going to be on display at the Common Room within the University of Malta Student House between 1 and 7 December 2020.
The Sea and Us is a photo exhibition organised by the University of Malta as part of the SEA-EU alliance (comprising the universities of Cadiz, Brest, Gdansk, Split and Kiel, apart from Malta). Open to students at the university, the competition lasted until 31 October, with the exhibition being the culmination of the finalists’ creativity, available for all to see for a limited time.
Each of the finalists collected a certificate of participation as well as a small bag of salt harvested locally during a brief, physically-distanced ceremony held on Tuesday 1 December at the exhibition venue.
The SEA-EU alliance aims to increase the level of mutual knowledge and integration between six universities across Europe, and in doing so, strengthening the European identity across the alliance.
Of the 79 photos submitted, Mr Keith Grima, Mr Joel Grima and Mr David Cilia successfully captured the photos judged best by a panel of experts and ranked in first, second and third place respectively. Their photos were selected on the basis of their relevance to the sea, how well they conveyed Maltese identity, their element of creativity, the overall message depicted, as well as lighting and composition.
“The predominance of the beautiful blues and historic limestone are characteristic of our islands, but the visual brand these students successfully conveyed through their photographs is an actualisation of the famous adage that for justice to be done, it must be seen to be done”, said Prof. Gorg Mallia, Head of Department of Media & Communications within the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences at the University of Malta, who was one of the judges for the competition.
The winners took home prizes ranging from a return ticket from Malta to Pozzallo, courtesy of Virtu Ferries, Heritage Malta Annual passes and gift cards to be spent on electronic equipment.
Mr Keith Grima, who snapped the winning photo during partial lockdown in March and April, said he is grateful at the opportunity he had to observe a special moment between a grandfather and his nephew near the sea in Wied iz-Zurrieq. “I think the photo, which I purposely converted to B&W, perfectly captures the importance of human connection at a time characterised by social distancing”, he said.
The other five participating universities, which each share the characteristic of coastal proximity, are organising their own photo contests around the same theme. Following the local selection of each university which is taking place now, a European selection will ensue; the 3 winning entries from each of the 6 SEA-EU partner universities will be judged.
“The SEA-EU Photo Competition fits within the SEA-EU Alliance’s commitment to support the European values based on student and staff mobility, creativity as well as a sustainable engagement with the sea. We are proud to be part of this project and look forward to contributing to the elevation of our profile as a well-respected university while going beyond the usual methods of inter-university collaboration”, said Prof. Godfrey Baldacchino, Pro-Rector for International Development & Quality Assurance and UM Coordinator for the SEA-EU alliance.
He also mentioned that the SEA-EU alliance has recently been awarded additional EU funding to support doctoral students engaged in marine or maritime research.
KSU President, Mr Matthew Xuereb, congratulated the winners and lauded the initiative, saying that “student participation is one of the most effective ways of active learning, engaging the students themselves with topics that matter”.