8 women to look out for on the Maltese art scene

Featured image: Installation shot of ‘Rinse’ by Emma Fsadni, during Art + Feminism exhibition at Spazju Kreattiv, 2020.

ARTZ ID celebrates the invaluable contribution of its female members to the local artistic community. The work and achievements of these (and many other) individuals at various stages of their career, should not go unnoticed. Here we take a moment to highlight some of the most significant artistic and cultural projects created and led by female practitioners.

Charlene Galea

Charlene is perhaps best known as a performance artist. She uses her bodily actions to comment about the contemporary condition and clothes are a metaphor for lived experience. Her most recent project, culminating in the exhibition ‘Privat – the natural body as fiction’ (Gabriel Caruana Foundation, 2020), questions, “Who are we when no one is looking?” in a world dominated by Instagram, filters and body-modifying apps. For this purpose, Charlene assumed various ‘sexy’ disguises and posed as these characters online. If you follow Charlene on Instagram, you would find out how she turns instances from her everyday life into meaningful performative events, working individually as well as in collaboration with other women.

Instagram posts part of ‘Privat – the natural body as fiction’, 2020 – view project

Raffaella Zammit

Raffaella is a cultural manager who manages the Gabriel Caruana Foundation. She is also daughter to the late iconic artist and ceramist Gabriel Caruana who first founded ‘The Mill’ in 1990. She is interested in creative research practices that explore environmental issues, community involvement and cultural change. In fact over the years, The Mill has been consistently living up to its proclaimed mission of being “an independent artist-run contemporary cultural centre where modern and contemporary art, culture and crafts could be shared with visitors.” Raffaella has been involved as developer and participant in various local community projects including Fluid Space, Nimxu Mixja and Ħożż il-Ħsejjes. 

Margerita Pulé

Curator, cultural manager and activist artist Margerita Pulé is well known to tackle pressing political and social themes such as corruption and over-development, through her work. In 2019, she participated in the exhibition ‘Daily Bread’ (Gabriel Caruana Foundation) with an installation that invited the audience to participate in a secretive transaction where they would value bread but also be valued by a mysterious appraiser in the process. In the same year, she co-founded Unfinished Art Space, an “independent, artist-run, nomadic space, showing experimental and contemporary art in Malta”.

Image from 'Daily Bread' featuring Margerita, 2019

Letta Shtohryn

Through her artistic practice, Letta unpacks the complex relationship between humanity and the digital realm. In Letta’s own words, her work “also explores gender constructs and gender representation, as part of her identity is being a full-time woman”. Letta is also curator of the Malta-based digital platform WhatDoWeDoNow? hosting physical and digital exhibitions of media art. Between the 9th and 23rd of September 2020, Letta’s work ‘Crypto heaven 2.0’ will be shown as part of the online program of Ars Electronica’s Festival for Art, Society and Technology. 

Exhibition banner for WhatDo We Do Now? 's virtual reality pavilion at Casino Notabile, Imdina, 2019

Sarah Maria Scicluna

As artist and printmaker, Sarah Maria is concerned with exploring ritual, systems and space. Her extensive series of silk screen prints ‘Walks in Prijedor’ is a fine example of this. In her work, the process is given primary importance and she often employs digital media as a starting point. The artist has recently announced her upcoming solo exhibition CUBE: Manipulations, supported by Arts Council Malta. Sarah is also lecturer at MCAST Institute for the Creative Arts, where she obtained her BA in Fine Arts before moving on to read for a Master in Digital Arts at the University of the Arts, London, Camberwell.

Photo credits: Tarunima Sen Chandra

Justine Balzan Demajo

Justine is an art curator and restorer who has been running Studio 87, an art community space in Valletta, since 2018. Studio 87 is dedicated to showcasing the work of emerging local and international talent, as well as to the restoration of artwork. Justine has also contributed to Malta’s artistic and cultural scene in various ways outside of Studio 87. In 2016, she curated Ġulja Holland’s first solo exhibition ‘Altered Egos’ as well as Pink October’s art auction held at Castille. She also launched the programme ‘Culture Vulture’ on national television. In 2019, she curated artist Julinu’s solo exhibition ‘Radioactive Ravioli’ held at Spazju Kreattiv. In September 2020, Studio 87 was looking forward to opening the exhibition ‘Selfies’, showing a series of paintings made by Ryan Falzon between 2018 and 2020. Unfortunately the show had to be postponed for a second time due to COVID-19. However, it will open at a later date when it is safer to do so.

Snapshot of Justine in conversation with Ryan Falzon about what we should expect from the artist in the near future. Follow the entire conversation on Studio 87’s facebook page here.

Emma Fsadni

As a fine artist, Emma works mainly with drawing, painting and printmaking to navigate subjects such as habits, perception, social conditions and conformity. Her style is defined by her minimal aesthetic and a frequent reference to the human form. Emma’s work has recently been shown at Spazju Kreattiv as part of the group exhibition Art + Feminism (2020). Her series ‘Rinse’ consisting of 147 portraits in ink on paper and an audio piece, interprets rinsing as a form of cleansing from gendered impositions of society on the individual. Over the past months, Emma has been releasing a series of limited edition fine art prints under the title ‘REPOSE’. The series currently consists of around 30 works capturing an instantaneous, playful and unique feeling. Check them out here

Installation view of ‘Rinse’ series at Spazju Kreattiv for the group exhibition ‘Art + Feminism’ – view project

Francesca Grech

Francesca is an illustrator and designer that brings her creative vision to life through digital painting, mixed media and animation. In 2017, she won the National Book Festival’s Literary Art competition. Her illustration has also appeared in her debut exhibition ‘Qatra Qatra’ (Café Society, 2018) and in two children’s books published by Merlin – ‘K-T-B’ (2018) and ‘Il-Familja Frattarija’ (2020). Francesca has also recently launched a new online shop with her illustrations! Have a look at it here.

'Gin Tonic', from the series 'Qatra Qatra' shown at Cafe Society, 2018

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