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Triton Fountain and approach to Valletta (1)

Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

I would like to point out various technical aspects that might have been overseen with regards to the projected removal of the Triton Fountain to a nearby site. The intervention has been presented as a simple and straightforward move to which I tend to differ.

First of all, the monument is a working fountain and not just a simple bronze statue on a stone pedestal that can be dismantled and removed.

The fountain has a series of underground passages that had been constructed in concrete and which are part and parcel with what shows above.

These passages supply the water and electricity needed to make the fountain work. Secondly, a serious of reservoirs, also in concrete, were perfectly levelled during its construction. I cannot see any of the above being dismantled and moved. The fountain has to be literally destroyed and rebuilt, not just moved. The intervention will definitely compromise the unique work of art and will most probably not be able to function as a fountain again.

Another technical point regards the three Triton statues which, although made of bronze, can be much compromised by them being dismantled. They were badly damaged and cracked when the plate on top had been used as a concert platform back in the early 1980s.

The intervention in the late 1980s included their partial filling with Portland cement in an attempt to consolidate the structures. Removing these statues now, as they are, will be causing further damage to them which will compromise their stability.

From an art historical point of view, it is a pity to de-contextualise the only large fountain/monument in Malta representing the time when Malta was getting onto its feet, detaching itself from foreign rule.

Its sculptor, Vincent Apap, together with Antonio Sciortino and Melchiorre Gafa, can be regarded as the three local geniuses of sculpture. Apap would be immensely offended had he known of all this. I recall him telling me of how he was deeply hurt when the said fountain had been badly damaged due to misuse. I would not want to tell him of what will happen now.

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