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92.9fm Regional News

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Migrant’s Story: A journey from Malta to Australia, through the eyes of her son

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Stella Stanley in Malta. Picture: Daniel Stanley

In creating a short documentary, one Tamworth artist has unlocked the stories of his mother's past. Danny Stanley, an artist and illustrator, has released a short film entitled ‘A Portrait of Stella Baldacchino’, which recounts the story of his mother and her family’s move from Malta to Australia in 1958. Stella narrates her story while Danny uses old family photos, animation, and a hand-drawn look to bring her story to life. Danny said he learnt a lot about his mother's history that he never knew. "I have three brothers, and I think we all only knew random stories and you pieced together, but I had never heard mum say her whole story," he said. "There were plenty of things I did not know about." One story that stood out to Danny was that his mother had been a nun for part of her life. The reason for using Stella's Maltese, maiden name - Baldacchino - in the title was to tie in her heritage to the portrait. "When she became Stella Stanley, she became dad's wife and our mum, and we have had her since then - she is a very devoted mother," Danny said. "This was a way to discover who she was before then."

Danny said his mum exudes warmth and motherly love, and he wanted to capture that and share it. The work was completed over an intensive week of drawing and animation, following an interview session conducted at Stella and Danny's family home. They had initially wanted to re-record Stella recounting her story, but with coronavirus restrictions arriving, Danny used the original, first-pass recording. Unprompted, Stella recounts her story as she remembers it. Danny created the drawings on his iPad, then used the program After Effects on a computer to animate them. Danny also uses the technique of rotoscoping, wherein he traces over dozens of still-frame images of his mum talking. "It was a way for us to bond, and think about our heritage together," he said. The one message Danny wants people to take away is to ask your mum, dad, grandparent or elder about their life. Danny also teaches at the Tamworth Regional Gallery, and online art lessons kick off on Thursday. It can be booked through the website.


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