Portrait of an Artist - Joseph Casha

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Joseph Casha dedicated his entire life to art. From paintings to ceramics, wooden sculptures and many other masterpieces, he sought to become one of the most renowned and well-respected artists on the island.


Words by Christine Cassar | Extract taken from August's 2022 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here


Although he is no longer with us, Casha leaves behind a legacy that everyone who knew him is so proud to share, particularly his nearest and dearest. In celebration of both his recent 11th anniversary on 24th June and his birthday on 11th July, I sat down for a chat with his youngest daughter, Alison Casha. I instantly became keen to discover more about the artist's life's work. 



Born in 1939, Casha spent his early months of life in Cospicua. Given that this was certainly not an easy time for families living in those areas during the Second World War, Casha and his parents eventually moved to Rabat. Following the move, Alison tells me that he started experimenting with some pencil drawings when he was still attending school.


Fast-forward a couple of years, he found himself at the centre of some of the most prestigious schools of art both in Malta and abroad. It all started with his foundation years spent at the School of Art Valletta until he jetted off to Rome. Between 1961 and 1964, he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, the Istituto Statale d’Arte and the Scuola delle Arti Ornamentali.


Besides working on his masterpieces, Casha taught art classes at the School of Art, Valletta up until the last month of his life. As Alison continues to recall these wonderful memories, she told me that his former students still praise him to this day. In fact, they still tell her that he was the best teacher they’ve ever had, not just because he was talented but also for his gentlemanly approach and kindness.


Some of Alison’s fondest memories of her father date back to when he used to spend hours on end in his home studio creating sculptures. Little Alison used to be right at her father’s side, awaiting pieces of clay he used to give her while he continued to work. Besides being an extremely talented artist, Alison also recalls how much he loved gardening. 


Whilst his work is widely varied, Alison explained that the 1990s and 2000s were a great source of inspiration to the artist. In particular, the lands depicted in the books and films of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter stood out to him. Although some artists tend to specialise in specific areas of art, Casha pretty much tried his hand at everything. He experimented with different media; be it ceramics, plaster cast in bronze, marble and alabaster, terracotta, as well as his distinct wooden sculptures. Adding to this, he also succeeded in mastering Photoshop for his digital art pieces. All in all, this goes to show how much Casha loved anything and everything that had to do with his craft.



His creative process varied; sometimes he did a few sketches before replicating them on the 3D structure, and other times he just created the carving. Adding to this, Alison explains that he always respected the chosen medium. Even if he had something in mind, he always let the medium dictate what the final masterpiece will look like. Alison recalled that whenever he came across any materials that he liked, he instantly wanted to get to work just for the sake of creating something else, rather than to sell.



Over the last few years, she has worked tirelessly to keep her father’s memory alive in many ways. Besides sharing pictures of him along with his masterpieces on his Facebook page and his website, we can find most of his works published in "Fantasy & Reality" by Louis P. Saliba. The publication was a gift that Alison had given to her father for his 70th birthday in celebration of a very successful 50-year-long career.

Alongside other commemorations of the artist’s 10th Anniversary in 2021, Alison made sure that one particular sculpture that her father had donated years ago was finally on permanent display for the public to enjoy at the Wignacourt Museum in Rabat. Featuring one of the first sentences of Dante’s Inferno, Joseph Casha’s “Gate of Hell” is spectacular. With it, the artist had won the 1st and 2nd prizes in a Dante competition.


Only recently, Parliamentary Secretary Alison Zerafa Civelli together with the Mayor of Cospicua, Marco Agius, unveiled a street name on the occasion of Casha’s 11th anniversary, very close to where he was born, right by St Helen’s Gate. Needless to say, this was another dream come true for Alison and the artist’s family, as they all continue to honour his memory to this very day.


There is no doubt that Casha’s legacy will continue to leave its mark on Maltese culture and heritage, his family, the art community and all those who knew him. He most certainly managed to fulfil his purpose in creating wonderful pieces simply because he loved being creative.



Website: http://www.josephcasha.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/artistjosephcasha