A road in Naxxar leading from the old windmill to Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary has been given a much-needed splash of colour through a collaborative project involving local and international street artists.
Leading the pack of creatives was James Micallef Grimaud, considered a pioneer of street art in Malta.
“The main aim was the rehabilitation of the area… it looked like a war zone,” he commented.
Mr Micallef Grimaud was initially approached by the Naxxar local council, which is currently working on the restoration of the windmill.
He also met students and teachers of the Higher Secondary and Middle School, with whom he discussed the theme of the project. They eventually settled for the story of Don Quixote, which forms part of the art O Level curriculum. A number of local and foreign artists, some of whom are established in the global street art scene, were then brought on board.
These include Malta-based Danish artist Chris Jensen, Kieran Gorman (Scotland), Tea One (the UK), Betarok (Scotland), Olivier Sader (France) and Felix Laoreti (Germany). Local participants included Braden Grima, Glenn Cauchi, Shannon Petticrew and Craig Macdonald.
During the week-long Naxxar Street Art Festival, held recently, each artist painted a section of the walls on both sides of the road, covering 140 metres in all.
“Everyone added an element from the theme. They gave their own interpretation of the subject and the whole piece was joined together through discussion,” said Mr Micallef Grimaud.
On visiting the site, one may see different representations of Miguel de Cervantes’s famous character and of his sidekick Sancho Panza, accompanied by fierce horses, flocks of sheep, mean vultures and more.
The main aim was the rehabilitation of the area… it looked like a war zone
Mr Micallef Grimaud has so far received very positive feedback, even from the locals, who were initially very curious about the project and were keen to help out in any way they could.
“They’ve really shown us their appreciation. I think perhaps this is tied to our culture, especially the festa aspect. We like having colour in our lives,” he said.
The project is, however, not over yet: the artists will be adding elements to the wall and repainting it over the next three years − a common aspect of street art projects. Mr Micallef Grimaud also intends to hold students workshops in future.
“Such initiatives are to be commended,” the artist said, adding he looked forward to more collaborations with other local councils.
Considered a pioneer of street art in Malta, Mr Micallef Grimaud has been involved in street art since his skateboarding days in the mid-1990s.
He co-founded the Msida Skatepark in 2008 with friends Chris Jensen and Michael Demarco and three years ago co-founded the NGO Malta Street Art Collective.
Among local projects, he did the first large-scale mural in Malta in Bellavista Road, San Ġwann, a Malta Arts Council project. He was involved in the Sliema Street Art Festival and many Kreattiv projects.
He has exhibited as far away as the US and Thailand and, in 2015, did the largest mural in Europe, in Hengelo, The Netherlands – a 46-metre behemoth, the equivalent of 13 floors.
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