My family and I visited Malta in March 1983 and we stayed in a flat in Paceville. It was dark in the mornings until about 7.30 or 8 o’clock and since my wife was six months pregnant with our youngest daughter, they stayed in bed whilst I went out as early as possible to look at the fishing boats. Their shapes and colours were fascinating and so I went out every day to draw and paint them.
Whilst exploring Malta during our first few days there, we went on the beautiful sandy beach in Birżebbuġa (see w/colour of Birsabuggia) where the children found a lovely feather. I cut a wedge in it with my blade and started to draw with it using a bottle of sepia ink which had belonged to the late Richard Wash. I got such pleasure drawing with that feather and the sepia ink. The quill seemed to flow over the paper and the drawings almost drew themselves. I have never had a bottle of such a beautiful sepia ink as that, nor can I remember who the manufacturers were. I wonder if it was Rowney’s! After maybe half a dozen drawings the bottle ran dry so I had to resort to a bottle of darker greyer sepia. Even though I like the drawings, they somehow lack the sparkle of the ones made with the more yellow sepia ink.
The family would join me at about 10.30 whilst I was sitting drawing; then, with food and drink prepared we would go off exploring Malta by bus. The old British-made buses bumped and rattled all over the bumpy roads and it’s still a surprise that Siân wasn’t born on the island!
Wherever we arrived, I would paint and draw as Malta is so full of subjects.
I particularly liked Marsaxlokk, which is the main fishing port of Malta. So, whilst my wife and the children walked around and looked at the amazing variety of fish caught I would attempt to capture some of the interest of the general scene in watercolour.
Looking back, I am surprized at how much work I did in such a short period of time whilst at the same time keeping young children amused and learning about the Maltese language and history. It was a competely different painting experience from painting scenes of demolition in Liverpool for the previous 13 years: it was painting and drawing for sheer pleasure.