Watch: Tessie – not simply a frail, old lady

102-year-old former teacher is the central figure of an exhibition and book.

Tessie, Giola Cassar’s latest photography project, will soon be presented to the public in an exhibition and a photobook.

The project is the culmination of a few years of research and shooting. Tessie Scerri, a 102-year-old former teacher (and Cassar’s great-great-aunt), is the central figure of the exhibition, as well as the book.

Never having been married, throughout her life Tessie also experienced many losses. However, having been born during the first world war and living her childhood during the second world war has not diminished her thirst for finding her joie de vivre.

At times, Tessie, also known as Terezina and Tessie to her loved ones, appears cheerful and brimming with life. In other instances, the mood is more reflective and one gets a glimpse into the centenarian’s physical fragility.

Cassar’s portraiture, however, never dwells on fragility for too long. Tessie is certainly no pathetic old lady. A school teacher by profession, she also travelled extensively in her youth.

Cassar’s compositions speak first and foremost of order and contrast, be it in the way she frames her subjects, often placing them neatly in the dead centre of the picture, or in the way she handles colour to create contrast and texture in her photos of jewellery and drapery.

The photobook presents a grainier, more nuanced view of who Tessie might be and the life events that have shaped her. The textual narratives, written by Glen Calleja, are in continuous dialogue with the photographic work.

The exhibition will be held at the National Archives of Malta (Rabat) between the 25th October and the 7th November. Opening hours will be Monday to Saturday from 8.00 am to 2.00 pm, Thursday to Friday from 4.00 to 7.30 pm and Sunday from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm.

Book pre-orders may be done by emailing:

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