In the heart of Attard, in St Anthony Street, stands a typical Maltese townhouse, beautifully and painstakingly restored. No. 79 is the headquarters of the Storm Petrel Foundation, a not-for-profit voluntary organisation established in 2013 to provide a home for the exhibition of private collections that would otherwise remain unseen.
The Foundation’s raison d’être is to host collections and exhibitions to promote art, literature and popular culture. It also exists to safeguard collections donated by collectors who want to ensure that their precious collections stay intact and are professionally preserved for posterity. The Foundation is a site of learning where scholars and enthusiasts can access the Foundation’s artefacts for both research and entertainment purposes.
State-of-the-art facilities ensure that items are curated and preserved to the highest professional standards. Acquisitions are organised as distinct units or bequests, in acknowledgement of their provenance – making it possible for the Foundation, researchers, as well as the general public, to browse detailed catalogue entries about each individual collection. It is a house worth visiting and revisiting for its changing displays and its celebration of the energies and discernment of Maltese collectors.
The Foundation’s Trustees are Ms Bernadine Mizzi, Prof. Ivan Callus, Prof. Saviour Catania and Prof. Gloria Lauri Lucente. Ms Romaine Petrocochino is the Archivist and Assistant Administrator.
The Foundation has hosted two exhibitions thus far. Vanities: Collecting Oscar Wilde ran from March to May 2017 and featured unique artefacts related to Oscar Wilde from the private collection of Francis Spiteri Paris. Noteworthy items included the key to the prison cell at Reading Gaol (where the author was imprisoned), original letters, signed by Wilde himself, including the infamous ‘Green Carnation’ letter, autographed first edition publications and numerous original lithographs. This exhibition won a mention on BBC News.
The Storm Petrel Foundation is currently hosting The Other Side: Gothic, Horror and Science Fiction. This is a rich and curious exhibition indeed, featuring books, magazines, pressbooks, comic books, graphic novels, original comic-book art, over 100 movie posters and much more from the collections of the three curators, namely Prof. Saviour Catania, Ray Vassallo and Dr Fabrizio Foni, as well as from the collection of Carmel Bonnici. An entire room on the first floor features original artwork from comic books authored or co-authored by Alberto Ostini, drawn by renowned artists (such as Mario Alberti, Paolo Bacilieri, Simona Denna, Anna Lazzarini, Leila Leiz, Francesca Palomba, Antonella Platano), and published by Sergio Bonelli Editore, the most popular and prestigious publishing house of Italian comics, such as Dylan Dog and Nathan Never.
The title The Other Side immediately conveys the exhibition’s focus on horror, gothic – in its broadest sense – and science fiction: three irrepressible facets of the popular and cultic imagination, each distinct from the other yet prone to fascinating overlaps. The subtitle is a lovingly parodic homage to the evocations in the old title-pages of treatises and popular novels within these genres, especially those dealing with superstition, magic, folklore, and the supernatural: all typically seething with motifs that are beguilingly unreal and archetypical at the same time.
An attractive aspect of The Other Side is that it will from time to time change what is on display in order to allow patrons to fully enjoy the range and depth of the impressive collections it features. Given the myriad treasures in this collection, The Other Side will be on display for months to come. After December some of the current posters on display will be taken down and replaced with others; as will many of the other exhibits. These new items will still link to the original title but will shed new light on new aspects of the genres depicted in this exhibition. Public viewings are organised on a weekly basis and dates and time are announced on the Storm Petrel Foundation’s facebook page.
For enquiries on individual, group visits, or events, please contact: