Tempra Academy of Arts
Presentation Dame Françoise Tempra
Of italian blood, she was born in Venic, brought up in France, and went to live in London after marrying a young English Baronet at the age of 20 .Since 1990 she lives the greatest part of the year, in Malta.
Her title of "Dame" is the distinction "Dama de la Orden de Isabel La Catolica",presented to her,by the head of the Spanish State,in 1975,for "services rendered in the sphere of the arts", and was approved by the Queen of England , since Dame Françoise is a British subject.
She is a respected Art historian (author of some 60 Art books and catalogues).She is directly published in English French,Spanish ,and Italian and speaks 6 languages. And also: Journalist:Member of the Foreign Press Association (Since 1975)- LONDON-U.K. President (International):Grolla d'Oro di Treviso Art Competition (Since1974) ITALY President(British):of the Association des Plantagenets (Since 1976) FRANCE President :MALTA International (105 Countries) ART BIENNALE (Since 1995) MALTA Journalist Member of the National Press Club .(Since 1996 )WASHINGTON DC- U.S.A. Curator: TEMPRA MUSEUM for Contemporary Art-Council Halls,Mgarr (Since 1996) MALTA Vice-President: Centre Culturel Christiane Peugeot (Since 1999) PARIS- FRANCE Curator: Aghia Trias Permanent Collection (Since 2000) GREECE Curator:TEMPRA Collection for Contemporary Art,Wignacourt Museum,Rabat (Since 2001) MALTA Curator:TEMPRA Sculptural Colonnade, Sir Harry Luke Street, Mgarr (Since 2001) MALTA President: TEMPRA ACADEMY : France (Peymeinad e- June/September 2002 ) - Malta (Busietta Gardens) , Germany(Mohrbach) I: ACADEMIC ITINERARY
She was a teacher(languages/literature) in the U.K.for some eight years (Public Schools) while preparing a doctorate in history of Art.
As Art critic she was the London Correspondent of the prestigious Art magazine GOYA of MADRID (Published by the Museo Lazaro Galdiano) from 1975 to 1989. (when she left London to mostly live in Malta) ; she wrote the LONDON weekly Art reviews for "WhereTo Go" ("What's On") for several years as well as for newspapers and magazines in France, Italy, Spain ,Malta, and the Middle-East.
From 1974 ,as International President of the Grolla d'Oro di Treviso,in ITALY (Venice) she has selected and introduced over 1000 artists from some 100 countries to the Italian event.
In 1975 she was nominated British Delegate for the Bienal del Deporte en las Bellas Artes of SPAIN (organised by the Spanish Ministries of Culture and Sports& the International Olympic Committee) and selected the British entries for several Biennales.
In 1995 she founded the MALTA International ART BIENNALE (105 countries , in its 2001 fourth Edition with 12 venues in Malta.(Museums, University, National Theatre). It has been described by the SUNDAY TIMES as UNIQUE for being presented simultaneously, within its duration bracket (2001 Biennale :2 June-9 October) in other countries and continents, although the judging is only performed in Malta. Thus, the 1999 MALTA BIENNALE was presented in four countries and three continents additionally to Malta: EGYPT ,(National Modern Art Museum, Cairo) presented by Prof. Ahmed Nawar, Head of Museums, the National Art Centre & several Art Faculties, FRANCE (Centre Culturel Christiane Peugeot-Paris) presented by the Dty Mayor of Paris17 and Christiane Peugeot, the UNITED KINGDOM (Foreign Press Association, London) Presented by H.E.Dr Bonello Du Puis, the Maltese High Commisioner to the UK and the U.S.A.(National Press Club -Whashington DC)presented by H.E. George Saliba, Maltese Ambassador to the U.S.A. The 2001 Malta Biennale followed the 1999 itinerary excluding Egypt& adding GREECE.
DAME FRANCOISE TEMPRA, Founder and President of the Malta International Art Biennale, speaks to us about her life's work in the world of art and culture.
How long have you been living in Malta now, and what drew you here initially after having lived in London for so long?
I came here in 1990 after having lived in Kensington, London for most of my life. At the age of 20 I got a doctorate in the History of Art. I am of Italian parents and French education – I started University in France and finished in the UK where I also taught for some years. I came to Malta in 1977 to view the Caravaggio, as one of my publishers asked me to write a book on Caravaggio. So I came back a few times to Malta while I was living in London, and in 1978 I sponsored a large exhibition on art in Malta just off Bond Street in London. Father Zerafa had curated the exhibition. I came back to Malta and did quite a few exhibitions, including one of the first Modern Art Exhibitions on the Essentialist Movement.
Then it was suggested by some of my friends that my father who was paralyzed would have a better life here, also since the climate would be better. So I sold my house in London, and then sadly my father died. He was looking forward to coming here so much, but 'c'est la vie'. So after his death I moved here and I haven't regretted it. When the containers arrived the customs officers were saying: "More pictures! More books!" I have written some 60 books and catalogues. It was quite amusing – they were quite amazed!
I admire the talent and determination of the Maltese. They were not privileged at the onset and yet what they have done with this country and what they have achieved, be it in art, music and literature is incredible! When I have Italian guests and start reading some poetry in Italian and then I say: "Cari amici, il poeta qui è George Peresso, Maltese," they exclaim: "Come?" The talent is quite incredible for such a small country.
How did your career in the cultural and art world start off and how has it developed over the years?
In 1975 I received a certificate for the work I had done for the Spanish artists in Italy and France. The certificate says, "for services rendered in the sphere of art" and I was given the title by the Head of the Spanish State presented to me by the Spanish Ambassador in London of: "Dama de la Orden de Isabel La Catolica'. It was approved by the Queen of England because I am a British subject. I also received a number of awards. For example, in 1999, I was presented with an award by the Ministry of Culture of Lebanon, for the Malta Biennale at UNESCO, Paris in Beirut for "rendering homage to education, science and culture".
The first Biennale was held more than 10 years ago, and the first catalogue contained 640 artists. I have also taken five Maltese sculptors to be exhibited at the Lincoln Centre - Anton Agius, Gabriel Caruana, Paul Haber, Niki Arnett Depasquale, and Mr Xuereb from Gozo – immediately after the Biennale. Four of them came and they were delighted. This was just the beginning. The Biennale artists were also exhibited at the World Bank.
On the 27 of April this year I was presented a certificate for the 2005 Malta International Biennale, nominating me as "Senator ad vitam honoris causa of the University of St Nicolas Moscow", which was the Imperial Academy of Russia created in 1669, for services rendered in the sphere of art and "for the high professional cultural merits". This was presented to me at the European Parliament, on the 27 of April by the President of the European Parliament Josep Borrel.
What does one have to do in life to become a 'dame'?
I am grateful that I was not given the honour of being appointed a dame simply because my ex-husband was a baron, but on my own merit for the work I have done in the art and cultural world.
Could you explain to us what an Art Biennale is and how you go about organising such a large-scale event with so many participants from all over Europe and beyond?
The International Art Competition was born in 1895 in Venice. This was the first International Exhibition, which then became the Biennale because it is performed every two years. I was also born in Venice so it is quite fitting!
This year during the 2005 Biennale, I delegated the curating. For Italy it was performed by four people: Galletti Romeo, Beninca Angela, Agnoletto Enrico as well as Dr. Allessandro Carone. They were such a great help! For Russia we had Ludmila Nachinkina, Germany – O.R. Schabbach, Portugal – Manuel Barata and France – Christiane Peugeot. They are such dedicated curators they must be given the tribute they deserve.
How many Biennales are held each time, and does one always take place here in Malta?
The Malta International Biennale has been presented since 1977, and it is always held in Malta once every two years, and a selection of award-winners and guests are presented overseas. It takes two years to organise it all. This year you have France, Portugal, Germany, Italy and Libya. The 2005 Madeira International Art "Bienal" will be held in September.
Who are the judges that select the winners and what criteria do they usually follow to make their choices?
We have judges from different nationalities – normally they are museum curators, art critics, and artists who have received first prizes. In each section we have five different nationalities. We have a chart and then I add up all the points. I have never been a judge but there are some artists that get a special distinction award from me as the President of the Biennale.
How would you describe the purpose and mission of Tempra Academy?
The Tempra Academy was created in 1985, and it has been active in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the UK and USA, before I came here. You have Tempra Academies in all these countries and the activities are presentations of performances in art, music and literature etc. It could be an exhibition, a fashion show, a concert, or a poetry reading. So in 1985 it became an international institution, and it gives encouragement to lots of creative people – in every field, whether in cinema, photography, or architecture. This year there was the under 18 non-performing section which had 26 young people that came to receive the award here at Villa Tempra. These young people were so excited. They had such enthusiasm!
Through the years living here has Malta become your home, or do you see it more of a base from where you can connect with the rest of Europe?
The previous Mayor of Mgarr called me an "Mgarrija" and I am absolutely proud of that. When I go overseas and I am introduced officially and they say what nationality are you – French, Italian or British? I say "I am an Mgarrija" and I am very proud of it. The quantity and quality of talent I have met here is exceptional. The people of Mgarr are like family. I feel this is definitely home. If one place should be home, this is home.
Dame Tempra was speaking to Erika Brincat.