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December 5, 2018 – Published in Design & Decor Winter 2018 issue

Love of the sea – Henry Borg Barthet

Henry Borg Barthet the second eldest of six siblings, born in Valletta in 1945.


Henry is the nephew of Esprit Barthet a famous painter who had the studio in the same building were Henry lived. As a young child, Henry hung around the studio always trying to emulate Esprit. The artist inspired Henry, teaching him to appreciate colour. He was always fascinated on how his uncle managed to conjure up such beautiful paintings out of a blank canvas.


Later in life while attending the Lyceum in Hamrun, Henry chose Art as one of his subjects where he was lucky to have Art teachers the likes of his Uncle Esprit Barthet and Antoine Camilleri. Later Henry attended The school of Arts in Valletta, where for the next four years he studied under Esprit Barthet.


Being an artist in 1964 would not have earned you a living, so Henry joined Architects Mortimer and Degiorgio as a junior Draughtsman. Later he joined architect Arthur Cutugno and having the opportunity to work in association with a British firm of Garnett, Cloughley, Blakemore and Associates, Architects and Interior Designers, exposure to the workings of an Interior Design firm in London, prompted Henry to set up a design team in Malta, working on several projects in the then fledgling hospitality industry.


In 1974 Henry together with his young family emigrated to Canada where he joined an Interior Design Firm. In a few years Henry had his own company, designing retail spaces all over Canada and the USA where he came up with innovative concepts for new retail chains. In the little spare time he had he drew illustrations for catalogues and adverts.


In 1989 Henry returned to Malta, always hoping to carry on with his dream of painting on a full time basis. His experience in Interior design established him in the business. As well as working on several commercial projects, he also appeared on TV shows and had several call in programmes on various local radio stations.


In 2015, his dream finally came true and Henry was able to return to his true love, painting. The subjects varied, but the love of sailboats, gardens and nature, shapes, colours, lighting all played a part in what he painted. Lessons taught by Esprit Barthet, experience in Interior design and years in the paint industry, made Henry a colourist, knowledge of colour, colour reflected in waves, subtle hues of flowers and plants, shapes, movement, action, mood are all seen in Henry’s mainly figurative paintings, these display the discipline of the drafting background, correlation of shapes and colour are an inheritance from the layout of retail and domestic spaces in Interior Design.


In Henry’s paintings of sailing boats, he wants to not only convey the representation of the boat, as a photo can do that, he says. “What I want to show is the power of the sea, the crashing of the water against the hull, the speed, the crew concentrating on their tasks, sails straining in the wind. If the sea is clam, the tranquillity, the lapping of the waves, the relaxed crew, the joy of sailing, no engine noise, just the boat and nature. Hopefully a lover of the sea and boats can feel this in my paintings”.

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