Digital photograph taken in Joseph Scerri's home woodworking workshop in Brunswick, of racks and stacks of timber on metal racking. The photograph was taken on 20 March 2023 by Museums Victoria photographer Jon Augier to document the workspace, including tools, materials and moulds, in which Joseph created the guitar and mandolin acquired for the Museum's collection.

This photograph is part of a collection of stringed instruments, tools, components and photographs which demonstrate the creative process of Joseph, his name in Maltese language Guzepp 'Kamussu' Xerri, migrated from Naxxar, Malta in 1964. Joseph turned to wood carving as a love he had discovered at a young age in Malta but only really applied himself to the creation of guitars, furniture and small domestic items from the mid-1970s, setting up a workshop in his home.

Physical Description

Digital-born colour photograph


This collection is a significant part of the Museum's Immigration and Artistic Practice collection which explores how migrants discover, maintain, adapt, reinvent and transform their creative practices in a new environment. The guitars and associated tools and materials demonstrate a high degree of skill for someone self-taught, even if the guitars were not created for professional use. They also demonstrate resourcefulness, with the use of a variety of timbers, frequently making do with what was at hand such as re-purposing discussed timber venetian blinds. The photographs document the workshop and broader domestic environment in which the artist created and lived.

While the pieces are not direct carriers of a particular cultural heritage, or an artistic endeavour transported from another country, they do represent the significance of creativity in keeping people active, occupied, challenged and connected - especially when without a circle of family and in the context of a difficult and painful working life. For this maker the guitars, and his other wood carving, became a form of respite and therapy, and the pure joy of making something for no purpose but its intrinsic beauty and an expression of the maker's skill.

This collection enhances other musical instruments relating to the migration experience, such as the Italian Cera mandolin and Ceresoli accordion, the Trinidadian steel pan, the Nepalese ukelele and Lithuanian lagerphone.

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