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Making Medusa: A look into the intriguing sculpture at AX ODYCY’s Level 10 Sky Bar

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Putting a spotlight on the inspiration and process behind the bold centrepiece sculpture at Medusa Sky Lounge.

On the Qawra coast, perched atop the recently revamped AX ODYCY Hotel, a new sky bar has been weaving a spell over guests since its opening last June. The adults-only Medusa, with its chic décor and craft cocktails, has fast become a favourite haunt within the destination. From its “Pick Your Poison” tagline to the serpentine motifs adorning the décor, the bar pays homage to the enigmatic Greek gorgon, adding a contemporary twist to the ancient tale.

Now, a beguiling bust of the goddess herself, standing at over two metres tall, has been unveiled at the sky lounge.  This sculpture, envisioned by AX Group’s Director of Hospitality and Care Claire Zammit Xuereb and brought to fruition by talented local artist Kane Cali, perfectly echoes the bar’s contemporary reimagining of the classic myth, one which celebrates feminine empowerment. The Medusa brand, and the sculpture itself, takes inspiration from the female today: she is who she wants to be, and does so fearlessly, without being tied to conforming to society’s expectations – a core value and belief for the brand, Ms Xuereb, and the team at AX ODYCY Hotel.

“When I was approached to create a central sculpture for the bar, I almost immediately gravitated towards recreating the Medusa herself. She is one of history’s most renowned femme fatales,” he explains. “I wanted this Medusa to retain a supernatural element, but through a less conventional approach. Instead, I aimed to portray her as a confident presence, one where the snakes no longer appear on the outside, but rather, exist within her.”

Guided by Claire Zammit Xuereb’s strong vision, Kane embarked on the journey of designing his sculpture, initiating a dialogue with the hotel’s design and operations teams respectively to strike the perfect balance in terms of scales and posture for the sky bar’s centrepiece, while also keeping in mind the direction that the hotel wanted to take for the sky bar concept.

Medusa sketch by artist Kane CaliSketch by artist Kane Cali.
Medusa sculpture installed at the sky barMedusa sculpture installed at the sky bar.

“We fully supported the idea of having something completely different for such a unique outlet. We sought out Kane precisely because we wanted something alternative, and a piece that would not only meet our expectations but also exceed them. And they have truly been outmatched,” says Claire Zammit Xuereb.

“The team wanted to have a reference point – something physically positioned and rooted within the sky bar that intrigued guests can relate to, acting as an icon for the brand, and also a photo opportunity,” continues Ms Xuereb. “We want to encourage our guests to capture their experience with Medusa out on our terrace and allow themselves to embody the female empowerment that our version of the figure represents.”

To bring the design to life, Kane began by seeking inspiration from a local model, a close collaborator who he knew could embody the essence of his Medusa. Using a handheld 3D scanning device, he transformed the model’s physical form into a detailed virtual model, which he could shape virtually, much as a sculptor uses clay, to match his artistic vision. Multiple iterations followed, until the definitive version received unanimous approval.

Knowing that the sculpture would be placed outdoors on the 10th floor of the hotel, Kane understood the importance of selecting robust materials for its construction. The sculpture needed to be both lightweight to avoid any structural concerns during installation and durable to endure exposure to the elements.

For this reason, he opted for fibreglass. The master-form mould was filled with a gel-like substance, known as a topcoat, to capture all the intricate surface details. Once the liquid had solidified, the sculpture underwent further refinement, including filling, sanding, and finishing in a distinctive scarlet paint. This choice not only lent a sleek appearance to the sculpture but also ensured it could withstand outdoor exposure. “The colour chosen is particularly striking – an in between blend of maroon and purple,” notes Ms Xuereb. “We wanted something dark, intriguing, and dynamic, tying back to the unique and bold brand that Medusa has come to be. Being a predominantly night-time venue, we also opted for a shiny topcoat to allow for the moody lighting to reflect off of her.”

Medusa SculptureMedusa sculpture.

“Given the rather tight timeline we had to finish our creation of the Medusa, most of the challenges were thankfully minor and mainly revolved around waiting for raw materials to arrive,” Kane remarks. “I made trips to the factory to oversee progress nearly every day, ensuring that issues were promptly addressed and that we adhered as closely and realistically as possible to the timeline.”

The finished sculpture is a thing of contemporary beauty and timeless intrigue. It’s an interpretation of Medusa that certainly takes a distinctive route. Gone is the thick tangle of the snake bouquet. His reimagining transforms her into a modern goddess thriving in the material world. This Medusa exudes boldness and confidence, with short, seductive gelled-back hair.

Upon closer examination, subtle nods to her mythological origins come to light. Her tongue, playfully taunting, is split, and the back of her head is adorned with protruding gothic scales, ensuring that every angle of the sculpture holds its own allure.

Now that it has found its rightful home on the outdoor terrace of the level 10 ODYCY sky bar, the Medusa sculpture has quickly become a focal point, attracting a considerable amount of attention.

“I never want to influence what people take away from my work. I believe it’s up to them, their feelings, and interpretations to derive their own meaning from it,” Kane reflects, playfully adding: “However, I do hope that the sculpture serves as an attractor, a piece that entices people to explore, that piques their curiosity and invites them to wander around and discover the subtle details concealed in plain view. To a certain extent, I hope our Medusa holds them in her gaze, almost as if turning them into stone, even if just for a moment.”

Do you dare lock eyes with the Medusa? Visit Medusa Sky Bar, on the 10th floor of AX ODYCY Hotel in Qawra and behold this captivating sculpture firsthand. 

Sketch details by artist Kane CaliSketch details by artist Kane Cali.

Pick your poison and surrender to the magic of the night.

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