Samuel Bugeja 1920-2004

The Silent Artist

Samuel Bugeja - The Restorer

From the Eyes of Peter Bugeja, Samuel Bugeja's Son

The Sixties

Mdina Cathedral After Restoration Samuel Bugeja and Family

At an impressionable young age of between five to ten years old (a mid-sixties period), what clearly sticks to mind are the many paintings of all sizes at home in various state of restoration. My mother always trying to balance between a home and an artist’s studio. One that she did admirably and with great patience and understanding. The fact that my dad had a studio room at the end of the garden at our Sliema residence, did help.

Till today the scene is still crystal clear, the feelings and senses as if it happened yesterday! The actual extremely unique smell of the animal glue slowly bubbling on the fire stove. A process needed in preparation for the relining of a painting was always highly fascinating and indeed educational. This inevitably always involved my elder brothers helping my dad. Today I truly appreciate the delicate and important process this was.

My memories as a young boy remain so very vivid. I clearly remember so many different sized statues being created in dark green plasticine that were in various state of finish. Then, eventually, the big event I always eagerly awaited, when we would prepare and create the mould in plaster. I so unmistakeably remember the anxiety on my father’s face until the mould is ready, removed and successfully reflects the painstakingly created dark green plasticine subject. These moments of creation are unique and I am blessed to have been part of this artistic history.

Amongst all the above activities, my father was a full time art teacher and Head Master of the School of Art when located at Msida. My excitement still brings me goose pimples when sometimes my father used to take me to the School of Art with him. We used to leave just before 4pm and return at around 7.30pm. Difficult to explain the experience of seeing so many aspiring artists, but it had a seriously positive impact on me, one that continued to help me appreciate the talent even though I was so young. I felt privileged and honoured to be in such surroundings. Despite my father teaching us and sharing his extreme knowledge with us in this world or artistic beauty, he never wished us to take art as our main career. Despite his insistence, I do wonder why I did not pursue further something that was, is and always be an inner talent wanting to jump out! I am sure the same applies to my elder brothers, who after all had the opportunity to spend more time with my father. Let us just say that this is just an enigma.