Over a Coffee with . . . Lara Bugeja

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Lara Bugeja describes herself as an artist in the broad sense and that it’s important to keep one’s heart open to what life presents. One of these things include the running of Malta’s Postal Museum and an opportunity to meet with our Laura Grima.

How would you describe yourself?

Gregarious, creative, meticulous, organised, straight talker, curious, aesthete, loyal and fun loving with a hovering sense of mischief.

Describe your relationship with this museum. How did you get involved?

MaltaPost plc had purchased the building a few years ago and it was undergoing an extensive high-grade refurbishment. At the time they happened to be looking for someone to create and develop the content of their postal collection. Life has a funny way of turning out – I happened to have spare time on my hands and was looking to return to the ‘art’ scene which can be fairly tricky after an absence of twenty years and in a small market to boot. Fortuitously I was in the right place at the right time.

What’s your favourite part of the museum’s collection?

Definitely the letters. The fact that something as fragile as an innocuous piece of paper can survive hundreds if not thousands of years never ceases to amaze me. The calligraphy too is a work of art in itself and often reminds me in this age of email that being mindful about everything one does (including something as simple as writing) takes constant practice. We’ve lost the art of letter writing which is a pity – it was such a genteel way of communicating.

How long does it take to plan an exhibition?

‘There’s never enough time’ would be my instinctive answer but I suppose it always depends on the size and content. With exhibitions that I curate from start to finish, I find it hard to say it’s done and relinquish it to the general public but that’s the name of the game and needs must. It’s also good practice to stand back and not claim it.

Most memorable exhibition you hosted?

We’ve had some really great ‘little’ exhibitions – one that springs to mind was an exhibition of vintage postcards showing scenes of the Bosphorus in the late 19th century.  Deltiology (as postcard collecting is called) is the third largest collecting hobby in the world and these postcards were visually stunning. We had a wonderful collective ceramics exhibition and I was truly surprised to see how gorgeous these three-dimensional works looked in our gallery. The lighting brought out every notch and scratch and illuminated their splendid glazes to perfection. We’ve had many other fine exhibitions and next month we are hosting design works by artist and friend Madeleine Gera followed by a large retrospective on Emvin Cremona starting in early December. It’s good to be on the go!

What is the most rewarding part of being a curator for The Postal Museum?

I’m really lucky in that overall, I truly enjoy what I do. Probably top of my list would be the creativity that one brings to the role. Fortunately I have free reign in much of what is required in terms of activities, exhibitions, lectures, curatorial content, etc and I am well supported by talented colleagues who help translate these ideas into reality. I can say that each day brings something different which from my point of view is great as I tend to have a low boredom threshold. It’s also a people’s job and I enjoy that – random visits from random people with unusual and interesting projects. What more could one ask for?

Is there an aspect of the Museum that people often overlook?

The hard graft that goes into the preparation of a substantial publication or exhibition would probably be one aspect. There’s a lot of glamour that accompanies big artsy events but actually none of this is possible without the work, knowledge and expertise of many people coming together. Also, you tend to find that generally (and obviously) people tend to overlook things that are not immediately ‘visible’ like conservation, reserve collections and research – and these areas are precisely where funding is required.

Do you see yourself doing anything else?

As an artist in the broad sense, it’s important to keep one’s heart open to what Life presents. So while I don’t see myself doing some specific alternative, I do keep flexible and open to what may come knocking on my door! I used to see myself running an art gallery or some foundation for creativity but I suppose I’m doing just that at the moment. I have an unrealised love for teaching which I occasionally indulge in when lots of children spend a fun-filled morning at the Malta Postal Museum. We’re heading into that season now and the museum will soon be full of curious little bodies come November and December.

Personal questions:

How do you start your day? As a reluctant getter-out-of-bed

How do you take your coffee? I don’t. Never have.  I’m a hot chocolate kind of girl but a canarino with a bit of ginger hits the spot in the morning.

Favourite artists/ artwork? Way too many to mention but have a particular fondness for Modigliani’s long-necked women.

Favourite quote? Don’t wait for life to happen, make it happen.

Over-A-Coffee Series is coordinated by CiConsulta Corporate Identities’ PR Director James Vella Clark. Today’s interview was carried by Laura Grima.

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