It is a scene from the past which we see every day among some Gozitan women. Sitting on a low stool, her face to the wall, with a lace pillow on her lap and clicking the bobbins, passing them deftly from one hand to another, as she works as fast as she can to finish the work so that she can earn some money by the end of the week. Lace made its first appearance in Geneva in 1530, the same year that the Knights arrived in Malta.
Dr Consiglia Azzopardi, knows all about lace and is an expert on the subject. Everything she knows and has researched about the rich story of lace has been collected in a book, ‘Maltese Lace, History and Mystery, Four Centuries of Bizzilla’.
The Knights, who were the sons of some of the best families in Europe, brought the craftsmanship of lace-making to Malta and Gozo. It was a time when lace was highly sought after and in fact it became an artisanal industry. This skill remained at its peak from the time of the Order of St John to the British era, and was taught in specially set up schools.
After the last World War, lace-making was dealt a harsh blow, but with the opening of the School of Arts in Għajnsielem 32 years ago, Dr Azzopardi once again sowed the seed of passion for this craft.
Her book was launched in Gozo where a discussion on the art of lace-making showed that despite technological advancements, nothing can take the place of handmade lace which is an art in itself, and which needs to be passed on from one generation to the next.