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Luqa roundabout art work is to be restored

Top of theColonna before the vandalism. Right: The vandalised Colonna covered by palm trees. Photos: Christ Sant Fournier

Top of theColonna before the vandalism. Right: The vandalised Colonna covered by palm trees. Photos: Christ Sant Fournier

Restoration work on the contro­versial Luqa roundabout sculpture has been given the green light and will be restored at a cost of €2,000.

Colonna Mediterranea artist Paul Vella Critien has been engaged by the Resources Ministry to start work this week and fix the damage inflicted by vandals on the phallic-shaped work when the top part was severed last May.

A ministry spokesperson confirmed the works will also include cleaning the monument as well as “remodelling” areas which need redecoration and filling, such as cracks in the ceramic column.

The cost comprises the raw materials as well as the cost of the laboratory work such as the glazing, plastering and firing of the section to be replaced.

The palm trees surrounding the work will be uprooted as the artist feels they were “covering” the sculpture. “Only a lawn is needed there to bring out the best of the monument,” Mr Vella Critien said.

He estimated that the restoration would be completed in two to three months’ time, depending on the weather. After the restoration, he hopes the plans for the lighting designs will be implemented.

In an interview with The Times earlier this year, the artist had described his sculpture as “a work of artistic technological beauty”.

The Colonna Mediterranea has been in the headlines since the day it was unveiled in 2006. Its phallic-like shape elicited a public outcry, led by the Luqa mayor.

When Pope Benedict XVI drove past it during his visit to Malta in 2010, the Neo Catechumenal Movement attempted to hide it with a huge banner.

This spurred an Osservatore Romano secretary to phone up Mr Vella Critien and say: “Paolo, che succede a Malta? Il Papa ama l’arte!” (Paul, what’s happening in Malta? The Pope loves art.)

Mr Vella Critien describes himself as a “maestro d’arte” and is widely known in international art circles, with several public art works displayed overseas.

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