Ceramika Maltija on the Mediterranean Island of Malta was established in 1952 in the grounds of the 18th Century stately home Villa Bologna by Cecilia de Trafford, the daughter of Malta’s fourth Prime Minister. Her starting point was the formation of Malta Industries Association in 1931. Several leading personalities formed the association to promote local crafts on a not-for-profit basis. A shop was opened opposite the Customs House in Valletta where tourists off the P & O liners would land. The main crafts available in those days comprised pottery, lace, filigree work and hand-woven items. The Noble Guiseppe Teuma-Castelletti, known as Contino, with an office in St Barbara Bastion, was the Secretary and himself the owner of St Mary’s pottery.By 1936 Cecilia realized that she was not able to get the quality of crafts the market demanded, the textiles being of limited design and quality and the lace likewise, all being made in the home and seldom two pieces the same. She turned the Association into a company with Limited Liability with herself and husband as Directors and immediately established a hand-weaving factory in one of the many outbuildings at their home in Rabat.Having survived the War and succeeded in keeping the weaving and lace making going, albeit in a small way, her next venture was to start a pottery to replace Contino’s which was destroyed by bombing, he himself having died in 1943. The new pottery duly opened in 1952 at Villa Bologna to where the family moved. Cecilia’s six surviving children had by then reached working age and Gerald her eldest son, and now the owner of Villa Bologna, had assumed responsibility for the pottery. Malta’s volatile political and economic development since the War all had an adverse effect on Cecilia’s enterprises and only the pottery now survives. Many talented Maltese ceramists have worked in or been associated with the pottery during its 60 year history in its heyday it employed over 30 people. However, with the importation of cheap mass produced items which became popular in the 1980s the demand for quality handmade, hand painted ceramics declined. Slowly, as a result, fewer staff were employed and there was less enthusiasm for the products reaching a point where the pottery would have closed if Jasper de Trafford, the grandson of Cecelia, hadn’t returned to his family home from London in 2009 to take over the management of the grounds and pottery.
Text of Ceramika Maltija - A Heritage Pottery
1. A HERITAGE POTTERY30 St Anthony Street, AttardTel: 21417973 www.ceramikamaltija.com