Disappearing Malta – an unintentional photo series of doors and facades

Disappearing Malta Series - badly decaying facade of a house of character, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta Series -a badly decaying facade of a house of character, Msida, Malta. One of the very first doors that I photographed, in 2015, whilst waking to Valletta, which I searched in vain for the other day and I couldn’t see it. I suspect it was where there is now a construction site  ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta – vestiges of a tiny Mediterranean Island

When we first arrived on the island, three years ago, from living and working in West Africa, the contrast was stark. All I could see was what appeared to be concrete and glass multi-story structures (Sliema was our first home and for those who know the town, they will almost surely understand my first (mis)impressions). I seriously wondered what would inspire me to get my camera out – in West Africa, it was hardly ever not pointed at something or other. Yet, thankfully, within those first few days, I discovered ‘the doors‘.

 

Disappearing Malta Series - badly decaying front door of a house of character, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta Series – badly decaying front door of a house of character, Msida, Malta. Another from the start of this photo project ‘found’ whilst walking to Valletta. It is still there, today (July 2018), but a large swath of the area around it is now under construction ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Florio was off on the assignment that brought us to the island, on an NGO vessel in the Mediterranean, documenting migrant and refugee rescues. So, I had some time to find my bearings and walking is just about the best way I can think of, to get to know any place I’ve ever lived in or travelled to.

Disappearing Malta Series - 'Meme' vintage shop front, Valletta, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta Series – ‘Meme’ vintage shop front, Valletta, Malta. I love the vintage sign, and red is one of my favourite colours ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Leaving the vast concrete and glass apartment complex, where we were staying at the time, I  turned down one narrow side-street – off the main drag of Sliema – after another and the true architectural beauty of Malta began to reveal itself.  And so it was, during those first days on the island, my unintentional ‘Disappearing Malta‘ series began and I’ve been photographing doors and facades on the island ever since. Hence, my camera doesn’t have to collect dust between our assignments after all, as I’m still finding more to photograph each and every time I take a walk.

 

Disappearing Malta - a cat sits on an old balcony, Valletta, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta – a cat sits on the railings of an old balcony, Valletta, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

‘I often wonder if anyone still lives in this building or is it just the cats…’

I’ve always been captivated by imperfections, the wabi-sabi, of things – drawn to the echoes of places that once were. Spaces and places that no longer exist; or at least not in their original form. And, I’m particularly drawn to architecture.  I now have a growing obsession to capture the decaying beauty of the abandoned Maltese houses of character, before they disappear completely.

Disappearing Malta Series - 'Paces Press' vintage store front, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta Series – ‘Paces Press’ vintage store front, Gzira, Malta.  ©Helen Jones-Florio
”Paces Press’ – Yet another early days discovery and one of my absolute favourites. I’m still pleasantly surprised to see it’s still there, whenever I pass by’
Doors of Malta - Blue door and balcony, St Julians, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Blue door and balcony, St Julians, Malta. It’s the first time that I have come across a balcony quite like this in Malta – kind of modern, yet retro. I also like the asymmetry of the image ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Disappearing Malta Series - vintage petrol station, Floriana, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta Series – vintage petrol station, Floriana, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Doors of Malta - A peek inside - doorway to abandoned house, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
A peek inside – the doorway to an abandoned house, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Furthermore, I want to see what is behind the doors…

Who lived in a house like this? I’m always peeking through letterboxes or broken windows (one of these days, someone will look right back at me, from the shadows of the interior of some decrepit building, and scare the hell out of me! Shades of all the horror movies I grew up watching!). Regretfully, since beginning this unintentional photo series, many of the doors that I have photographed – and the houses that surround them –  have already disappeared, and their history with it. In many cases, to be replaced by yet another characterless, generic concrete structure – for rental purposes –  clearly made with very little love. Either that or the doors are chained or boarded shut, locked up with ancient rusty padlocks, the keys to which have irrevocably long been lost.

 

Disappearing Malta Series - vintage workshop doors, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta Series – vintage workshop doors, Msida, Malta. This, to me, is like a work of art, albeit unintentional, it’s almost like a face with wide set eyes ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta 
an unintentional photo series
Disappearing Malta Series - House of Character, Devonshire House School, Gzira ©Helen Jones-Florio
Disappearing Malta Series – Devonshire House School, Gzira ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

The quest continues…

Helen Jones-Florio

 

Related work: Doors & Facades #1 / Doors & facades #2 .

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Doors and Facades – Malta

Doors of Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

In traditional Japanese aestheticsWabi-sabi () is a world-view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” 

Pace Press: Old store front, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Paces Press – old storefront, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Sliema Stamp Shop - Old store front, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Sliema Stamp Shop – old storefront, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

On my frequent meanderings around the streets of this small Mediterranean island, I regularly come across sites, such as these. Beautifully decaying doors and facades – portals to another place in time. Often, starkly juxtaposed by the surrounding modern, steel and glass (which, it appears, is the de rigueur architecture of Malta, sprouting up all over the place), one could very easily walk right past these exquisite, woefully neglected, facades without even noticing them.

 

The Main Event - Old store front, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
The Main Event – Old storefront, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Facades, Malta IMG_9902
Old store front, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Without a doubt, in the not too distant future, these beautiful old doors and storefronts in Malta will become part of my ‘Places and Spaces that no longer exisit… or not in their original form

 

Turquoise door - Balutta Bay, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Turquoise door – Balutta Bay, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

In fact, since taking these photos, some of these doors and facades have already been relegated to large skips, to be disposed of. Or, I like to think that they will have been salvaged by some enterprising dumpster-diver, to be restored to their former glory elsewhere on the island.

See more ‘Doors and Facades #1‘ and ‘Doors and Facades #2
Old door, Valletta, Malta © Helen Jones-FlorioMG_9926
Old door, Valletta, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

What is behind the doors, I often wonder? Now, there’s somewhere I’d truly like to see… .

Helen Jones-Florio

 

Helen Jones-Florio profile shot - Image ©Jason Florio
Helen Jones-Florio – Image ©Jason Florio

 

Postcards from a small island – Malta. Images ©Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta

 

Stormy skies over Sliema, and the Valletta/Sliema Ferry, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Stormy skies over Sliema, and the Valletta/Sliema Ferry, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

'Knight Town', Valletta, Malta - Images © Jason Florio for Morning Calm
Travel: Knight Town, Valletta – Images © Jason Florio for Morning Calm/Korean Air

 

A very enjoyable travel story that we worked on, in Valletta, the enchanting ancient capital of Malta – and also the European Capital of Culture 2018 – for ‘Morning Calm’ (Korean Air’s in-flight Magazine).

 

On the rocks - dive time, Manoel Island, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
On the rocks – dive time, Manoel Island, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Walking along the Victoria Lines, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

What a revelation, on our Malta walks, to find so much nature, and tranquility, particularly after having recently read that the tiny Mediterranean island is equated with the word: ‘cementation’ –  and, in some areas, quite justifiably so. Where we live, for example, we are surrounded by deconstruction, reconstruction, new construction, behemoth cranes, and all the constant racket (and dust!) one can expect from the aforementioned.

 

Doors of Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Doors of Malta © Helen Jones-Florio  

 

On my frequent meanderings around the streets of this small Mediterranean island, I regularly come across sites, such as these. Beautifully decaying doors and facades – portals to another place in time. Often, starkly juxtaposed by the surrounding modern, steel and glass (which, it appears, is the de rigueur architecture of Malta, sprouting up all over), one could easily walk right past these exquisite, woefully neglected, facades without even noticing them.

Follow us on Instagram for daily photo updates @floriotravels / @jasonflorio

 

Valletta, as seen from Sliema ©Helen Jones-Florio
Valletta, as seen from Sliema ©Helen Jones-Florio