The king and queen look in the same direction towards the falcon, falco peregrinus brookei, Malta’s most recognizable icon, made world famous by the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart. When the Order of St John ruled Malta (→2♦, Jack♥ and 3♣), their Grand Master had to pay the Holy Roman Empire an annual tribute of one falcon. This ace of the skies can reach speeds of up to 320kmph, making it the fastest moving creature on the planet. From left to right, the sea, saltpans and sky are abstractly rendered (acrylics on canvas, 80x60cm). Rising like Daedalus (whose name relates to Greek meaning to “work artfully”), a tercel – male falcons are 1/3rd the size of females – closes the suit with the ♥ on a string, representing his suit’s 13 cards. The string is tightly strapped to his talon and the bird is taking flight into a blood-red evening sky, now an upside-down Maltese flag, circling over the previous three suits before flying over to the ♣s.
Malta’s first ever national referendum on whether to end spring bird hunting was held in April 2015, this failed to pass by 0.8%: the wafer-thin difference was 2,220 votes against ending the killing spree.