Walking around the narrow back streets of Bormla (also known as Cospicua), whilst photographing an old door, of the many derelict houses in the area, I was approached by two very young girls – around 6 and 9 years old, respectively. ‘You like this door?’ the older of the two said. ‘Come, I will show you more…’
‘this is where my grandfather lived when he was a boy’, my unintended chaperone told me… read/ see more on Doors and Facades
A page dedicated to my love of all things doors and facades, from wherever I find myself in the world. Currently, it’s the tiny little Mediterranean island of Malta. And, if there is a story to be told, even better.
Walking around the narrow back streets of Bormla (also known as Cospicua), whilst photographing an old door, of the many derelict houses in the area, I was approached by two very young girls – around 6 and 9 years old, respectively. ‘You like this door?’ the older of the two said. ‘Come, I will show you more’. As she led me down the street, she proceeded to inform me as to which houses were empty, and which were not – and one house, in particular, she announced that ’the lady died so you can live there’. (‘I’m sorry‘, I said, to which she shrugged nonchalantly ‘it’s ok‘).
And, ‘this is where my grandfather lived when he was a boy’, my unintended chaperone told me, as she and her younger sister (who said nothing, but just stared at me the whole time, from beneath a long black fringe) led me to yet more doors, down an adjacent narrow street. ‘You like this door, it’s (the house) empty, so you can buy this one’. I replied that I would have to consult my bank manager.
I’m both amused and perturbed by their attention – after all, the two minors were leading a complete stranger on a tour of the back streets of Bormla (or, worse yet, it would appear to be the other way around). As I was about to say that perhaps they should go home, a disembodied male voice boomed, in Maltese, from the direction of the street where I had met the girls. To which, they turned and began to run towards the voice, the older girl shouting back over her shoulder at me, ‘bye-bye, ciao!’, whilst waving, as they turned the corner. And, just like that, they were gone… I didn’t even get to know their names.
Here are few more doors and facades from Bormla/ Cospicua/Hamrun/Sliema/St Julians
See more of Helen Jones-Florio’s doors and facades on WordlyImages (flickr)
To find my bearings, I walked… and I walked. It’s the only way that I know to get a real sense of any place I’ve ever landed in. So, leaving the vast concrete and glass apartment complex, perched on a peninsula, I turned down one narrow side-street after another – off the main drag of Sliema – and the true architectural beauty of Malta began to reveal itself… Helen Jones-Florio / Times of Malta
Having lived long-term in two major capitals, London and New York, where ‘rejuvenation’, ‘gentrification’, ‘generi-fication’ – however you want to tag it – has left its mark, which sadly, all too often means taking something away…
Each and every door or facade has a story – and, someone, somewhere on the island can tell it. And, I want to see what’s behind the doors – hence, I’m often peeking through letterboxes and broken windows! Read full feature in Times of Malta
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‘.
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.
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.
‘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.
”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’
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.