Started off on my usual morning hunt after an elusive prey....a paintable scene. This can happen quickly, or not. I was running out of options, or at least close-by options, by the time I hit the coast road. I decided to hang a right and cut through the Maghtab valley. This is the location of what the locals refer to as, 'The great Pyramid of Malta'- being the city dump. It is a ziggurat-sized pyramid of gigantic proportions, and it is visited daily buy hundreds of garbage trucks bringing their loads of urban man's flotsam and jetsom. As I rounded the bend away from the mound, my eye caught the winding road upward, flanked by a cluster of nicely-lit stone houses. The maltese farmhouses are like so many ochre-coloured cubes scattered across the landscape. To the left was a fine grouping of trees, cutting the horizon with a well-placed vertical. my vantage point had to be in a field, looking over a farmer's wall, with a rather unusual metal gate painted a merry turquoise. Up and down the road lumbered one garbage truck after another, plus the morning traffic of mortals taking a short cut to paid employment. The ground underfoot was littered with the junk some unthoughtful person had turfed out of a moving car late at night. In spite of the cacophony and the trash, I knew I had a thing of beauty in front of me, if only I could capture it before the morning sun lost her freshness. I painted with abandon, oblivious to the truckers slowing down to inspect this madman in a field. The brilliant orange walls, the olives of the bush, the buttery yellows of the houses, and the luxurious mauves and greys in the scrub of the foreground....
I knew had all the ingredients that I needed in my hands. As I was finishing, an incredibly aged and frail-looking Ford Anglia wobbled gingerly up the dirt track from the farmhouse hiding behind the trees. I gave the aged occupant a huge smile, and asked him how old his car was. In retrospect, possibly not the best conversation starter.... After a brief chit-chat about the vintage of his wheels, he paused and asked me pointedly as I stood, one hand on my easel, and the other full of brushes, "Tell me, what are you doing here"...in the sort of tone a school master would use to a pupil. I said, "I'm painting... that!" and I gestured towards the the field in front of me. I said "Next time, I'll have to paint your car as well!" He gave me a world-weary look and said, "All right," nodded and drove off. All he wanted was an answer, any answer would do, so that he could give his consent. I was on his land, albeit 4 foot from the main road. So between dodging garbage trucks, dancing between old exercise books and diapers, I managed to find a little glowing green gate in a world of yellow and orange, not far from a large ochre pyramid.