A group of professional artists will from this month be adding colour to Maltese roads by integrating art in public spaces and bridging the gap between pedestrians and street art.
Street art had always been perceived as a form of rebellion and was never really recognised as an art form in itself, James Micallef Grimaud, who is directing the pro-ject, Putting Colour Into The Streets, said. Four artists will breathe life in this venture on Bella Vista Road, San Ġwann, move on to the Sliema area and hope to expand it to other localities. The team sought permission from the local councils to paint on public walls and is waiting for the approval of other suggested sites. The Żejtun local council has already shown interest in the project and contacted the artists.
The project was met with great enthusiasm and Facebook users are still submitting suggestions. One of the favourite propositions is to add colour to the long grey wall from Msida up to the University bypass.
The proposed project involved painting on canvas, which would then be hung on walls in public places. The art work would eventually be exhibited in a gallery. However, the Malta Arts Fund, which is financing the project in collaboration with Montana Colors, Christine X Art Gallery and Bank of Valletta, instructed the artists to paint directly on the wall. Although graffiti and murals might fade, they last up to 30 years.
The team, made up of Mr Micallef Grimaud and Daniela Attard from Malta, Tino Moebius from Germany and Chris Jensen from Denmark will take care of the murals, maintain them and even add on to the original paintings as the years roll on. The artists are not worried that some painters might add on to the original work throughout the years. “Adding onto somebody else’s graffiti is part of the fun,” Christine Xuereb, 31, who is helping out with the project administration, said. Ms Xuereb, known as Christine X, would have “loved to join in the fun” but, as a full-time mother and student, she can only assist in the logistics of the project.
“I’ve always preferred painting on walls. Whenever we moved into a new house, my father would ask me not to start painting on the walls.
“When I see such an unlimited blank space, I feel the urge to paint. If you do get bored with what you’ve painted on a wall, you can always paint over it,” she added.
Mr Micallef Grimaud, who has been a graffiti artist for the past 15 years, added: “Art is more of a form of expression. There’s nothing rebellious about it. We like to conform to the law and have applied for all the necessary permits.”
He insisted murals were a means of preventing vandalism.
“There’s mutual respect when it comes to street art, especially murals. When you have a work of art in a public place, people sort of feel bad about ruining it,” Mr Micallef Grimaud, 31, said.
Professional street art incorporates the actual physical space in the work of art. The environment, including street furniture, is included in the aesthetically pleasing final product.
Mr Micallef Grimaud recalled how, as a skateboarder for 13 years, he used to look for places on the street where he could skateboard. This involved adapting his skills at skate boarding to the environment. In the same manner, the artists will be adapting their artistic skills to public space.
Those who wish to sponsor parts of this project and young people, aged 14 and up, interested in contributing to this innovative form of expression can contact Ms Xuereb via email@example.com, 2131 6708 or 9984 4653.
Guidance and technique skills will be provided by professional artists and the painting will take place in a pedestrian-friendly zone.