Photo of the Day – ‘The Hunting’ traditional masquerades, The Gambia © Jason Florio

'The Hunting' traditional masquerades, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio photography
‘The Hunting’ traditional masquerades, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio.

 

Aside from the more serious element to our work – particularly, what we are working on at the moment, ‘Gambia – Victims and Resisters of a Regime#Portraits4PositiveChange – we have also been working on another long-term series of the traditional masquerades of The Gambia.

Although the Gambia is a predominantly Muslim country, the animist-fuelled masquerade ceremonies pre-date the arrival of Islam and are still tolerated and practiced around the country. Animism is an intriguing subject – the belief that animals and inanimate objects, such as trees, possess a soul, or a spiritual essence.

Also, the juxtaposition between the urban environment and these ancient traditions is fascinating – just like ‘The Hunting’, pictured, in the concrete and corrugated iron enclave of a compound in the capital city of Banjul.

Jason Florio photographs 'The Hunting', traditional masquerades, Banjul, Gambia - Image © Helen Jones-Florio
Jason Florio photographs ‘The Hunting’, traditional masquerades, Banjul, Gambia – Image © Helen Jones-Florio @floriotravels/Instagram.

 

Whether it be a circumcision ceremony, celebrating a successful harvest, chasing away evil spirits, enforcing village rules, or simply for entertainment, each particular masquerade plays a central and significant role in many parts of West African society.

'Fairies' traditional masquerades, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio photography
‘Fairies’ traditional masquerades, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

 

Most of the masquerades we’ve seen so far are based on animals. However, the traditions are being hauled into the 21st century, modernised by the use of synthetic fabrics and ornaments, such as Christmas tree baubles, adorning ‘new-style’ masquerades. However, more on those particular masquerades as we move on with the long-term project (sneak preview, below).

Helen Jones- Florio & Jason Florio.

Photographers, Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia, West Africa selfie
Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, The Gambia

 

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Stormy Mediterranean Sea – Malta

Stormy Mediterranean Sea, Spinola Bay, Malta ©Jason Florio
Stormy Mediterranean Sea, Spinola Bay, Malta ©Jason Florio

 

Stormy Mediterranean Seas hit Malta

Images © Jason Florio / ©Helen Jones-Florio
Photographer, Jason Florio, photographs Stormy Mediterranean Sea, Spinola Bay, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Stormy Mediterranean Sea, Spinola Bay, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

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Doors and Facades

Derelict facade of an old house of character, Triq San Pawl, Bormla, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Derelict facade of an old house of character, Triq San Pawl, Bormla, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

I’ll be updating, on a regular basis, my ‘Disappearing Malta‘ series on the ‘Doors and Facades’ page.

First post on the new page:

On one of my many island rambles, the other day, to find more doors and facades to photograph, I jumped onto one of the small local boats that ferry people from the Grand HarborValletta, on the short ride over to the Three Cities.

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

ld red door, Bormla, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
Old red door, Bormla, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

I hope you that you will stop by

Helen Jones-Florio

Helen Jones-Florio, Valletta vintage storefront ©Jason Florio
Helen Jones-Florio, Valletta vintage storefront ©Jason Florio

 

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Behind closed doors, Malta

Entrance to 'Savoy' house, Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
A way in. The entrance to ‘Savoy’ house, Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

Abandoned, derelict, buildings have always held a fascination for me…

This particular one, a big house named ’Savoy’, is at the top of Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta. It’s been derelict for the last three years, at least. Who knows how long prior to that. I’ve tried to find some information on it and the most I can come up with, thus far, is that it may have been a guest house.

Walking by the other day, Florio noticed that the front doors were open – they are usually padlocked with a big old rusty lock. Maybe there were workmen in there, at last, beginning a renovation project? ‘Hello, anybody home?’. No answer. What harm could it do, to take a quick peek? I’ve wanted to see inside this place since the first time we walked past it, three years ago.

'Savoy' house, interior, Gzira, Malta - old art deco chairs © Helen Jones-Florio
‘Savoy’ house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Entering into the cool interior of what must have once been an impressive foyer, a beautifully ornate, wrought iron stairway, gracefully curves its way up to the first floor. Beneath our feet, and years of dust, beautiful old Maltese tiles, still very much intact in many places, line the floor. Could this have been a reception area? Several low-slung easy, art-deco style, armchairs, piled into one corner. And,  judging by wooden bed frames, stacked up high, one on top of the other, in another room, and numerous old wardrobes (in one of the rooms, they were mysteriously lined up, barricade-like, against panoramic floor to ceiling windows, as if to obstruct the light or, perhaps, to keep something, or someone, out? Derelict buildings always arouse my vivid imagination!) suggests that it could very well have been a guest house or small hotel.
'Savoy' house, interior, Gzira, Malta - old wardrobes barricade-like agains the window © Helen Jones-Florio
Barricade? ‘Savoy’ house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
The marble stairs still looked solid enough, so we carefully made our way up the first curving flight, onto the first-floor landing. Treading with caution, hoping that the potholed, rubble-strewn floor would hold our weight, we edged our way through a labyrinth of hallways, poking our heads into room after room, sunlight pouring in from the many broken windows, lighting our way (I’m not sure I’d have been so brave to explore if there hadn’t been any natural light. LIke I said, vivid imagination). From the outside – despite its present state of dilapidation – one could imagine that the building was once a house that would have stood out, regally, amongst its neighbours.  And, from what we could see, that would have been reflected in the interior, too.
'Savoy' house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
No exit – ‘Savoy’ house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

'Savoy' house, interior, Gzira, Malta - patio doors overlooking the garden © Helen Jones-Florio
Room with a view – ‘Savoy’ house, interior, Gzira, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Entrance to 'Savoy' house, Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
‘Savoy’ house, Savoy Hill, Gzira, Malta ©Helen Jones-Florio
I need to do some more digging, there must surely be photos somewhere, that depicts the house in it’s grander days, inside and out? Next time we pass by, and if we are lucky, and we find the front door is unlocked and open wide again, maybe we’ll venture up to the 2nd floor and onwards.

 

Helen Jones-Florio

 

Related work: Disappearing Malta / Doors & Facades #1 / Doors & facades #2

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