The story behind ‘The Many Faces of the Mill’ by Gabriel Caruana Foundation

ARTZ ID reaches out to the brains behind The Gabriel Caruana Foundation, Raffaella Zammit and Elyse Tonna, to learn more about their latest project; The Many Faces of the Mill. These two young ladies have been working hard all year long through a number of projects with the aim to reach the community and keep the legacy of Gabriel Caruana and The Mill itself,  alive through the Foundation. Here’s what they shared with us. 

Illustrations created for Many Faces of The Mill collection. All rights reserved to Gabriel Caruana Foundation. 

What was the main inspiration behind The Many Faces of the Mill?

Many of our ideas really start off as a discussion about an issue that we’d like to address or contribute towards solving. There are certain underlying principles we have at heart that seep through anything we delve into.

The Many Faces of The Mill started off during one of the many video calls between Elyse Tonna and myself (Raffaella Zammit) last March, as we were discussing, of course, the pandemic, lockdown and a myriad of cancellations. Before it broke out we had been preparing to celebrate the 30 years since Gabriel Caruana and Mary Rose Caruana opened The Mill and had just launched Charlene Galea’s solo exhibition, Privat: the Natural body as Fiction.

So from a list of wants we created an opportunity to support creatives, new collaborations and opened up our celebration of The Mill in an unexpected manner. We then started thinking of the hows and whats!

Illustration created by Zack Ritchie for The Many Faces Of the Mill collection. All rights reserved to Gabriel Caruana Foundation. 

What were the key factors you followed to select the lucky winners? And tell us more about them.

The call was very well received, and we were happy to have a positive response from the new online community, the Malta Community of Illustrators, who shared our call. We had a fair amount of submissions. All illustrations were reviewed by a selection panel and the review was based on originality, creativity, aesthetic qualities, and relevance to The Mill as a contemporary art and cultural centre. The selected artists are Ed Dingli, Joyce Camilleri, Luke Caruana, MaltaType (Matthew Demarco), textpresso (Manuela Zammit), Noura Abdelhafidh, Steffi Venturi, Steven Scicluna, Te Fit-Tazza and Zack Ritchie. Each interpreted The Mill differently, in their own signature style. It’s splendid to see each individual illustration explore different qualities of The Mill, as seen through the illustrator/artist’s own perspective and spirit. The interpretations are varied – from The Mill’s quirkiness, to its openness, a contemporary yet traditional building, to The Mill’s bold, playful and independent character. Some brought to light specific details of The Mill such as the wheels or the ‘Modern Art’ banner; others gave a more personal perspective. The interpretations are so varied yet all relevant! The whole process was also an eye-opener as to how The Mill is perceived by different creatives. The limited edition prints are now available exclusively for sale on our online shop This is a tangible way of how you can support creatives and independent art organisations such as ours.
Work by Joyce Camilleri created for the Many Faces of The Mill collection. All rights reserved to Gabriel Caruana Foundation. 

Do you see it as a start towards creating new types of collaborations with the community?

Yes absolutely! We’ve been planning open calls for collaborations for a while now, and this was the very first one. This call gave us a lot of experience in how to handle such collaborations. This involved several aspects; drafting proper and fair agreements with the help of our legal advisors, setting up our smooth online shop (we worked with our go-to techies Mighty Box), working with printers (Ilab Photo) to ensure that the limited edition prints are perfect, and more. There’s a lot of work that goes into setting up these collaborations, but the groundwork is there. So now we’re very keen to keep exploring how to develop new collaborations, supporting creatives and reaching out to our diverse audience. The Investment in Cultural Organizations Fund of Arts Council Malta partially supported us through this process. A lot of hours went into setting everything up, but we’re really pleased with the result. The response so far has reflected it, and as long as it is a means to support creatives and spread the love for and from The Mill, we’re overjoyed to have reached our goals! Ultimately, that’s the whole point of our organisation!
The Late Gabriel Caruana at the Mill event; Colour and Form for Peace.

The Mill is a well- known landmark which carries the legacy of the late Gabriel Caruana, an icon to the contemporary artistic community. How important is it and why to keep this legacy alive and active for future generations?

The Mill is unique since it’s a physical space worthy of tangible cultural heritage protection. On top of this intrinsic value, it holds the intangible cultural and artistic heritage that Gabriel Caruana created through his passionate and tireless love for contemporary art, culture and crafts. Prof. Richard England recounts in his critical essay written for the publication Gabriel Caruana Ceramics how Gabriel once confided that “I could not live without art. It is the totality of all the meaning of my life”. It is this precise sentiment that lives on in The Mill and in our Foundation. The Foundation was a way to continue this legacy. It is also a reflection of the urgency in providing an independent contemporary non-profit art centre especially to emerging contemporary artists and collectives. The importance of maintaining this legacy lies in celebrating modern and contemporary artists. Our island is endowed with active, resilient, talented, and passionate artists and creatives that are fearless in exploring contemporary everyday life, its beauty and its challenges offering fresh and relevant perspectives. Our work is a means to contribute to this discourse through an engaging artistic programme. The feedback we get from our audience and supporters is encouraging, but it’s the love for art really that spurs us to keep going, just like Gabriel!

Make sure to grab one of these limited edition prints, proceeds will go directly to artists and to support the foundation. 

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