An artist who painted a stunning graffiti mural which has been turning heads in Sliema wants to complete the piece in northern Italy in a couple of weeks.

At least four storeys high, the mural shows the backside of a man and his muscular legs as he scrambles into a hole in a wall of a building, adjacent to the Regina car park.

Many on the way to Bisazza Street have stopped to marvel at the piece, wondering whether there was a story to the grey man in red shorts and flip-flops.

It took the artist a full three days to complete the mural, which formed a part of the Sliema Arts Festival.

Asked about his piece, the French artist, who goes by the name MTO, told this newspaper to “wait a week or two... you will understand”.

But Pierre Portelli, who chairs the festival committee, said the other part of the mural will show the grey man coming out of a wall in an as yet unspecified building in the north of Italy.

It is meant to portray the struggle of migrants who leave southern shores and head to northern Europe in search of a better life.

The man in the mural is grey, as he does not represent any particular nationality.

Mr Portelli, who is also a Sliema councillor, confirmed that although the four-day festival ended on Sunday, the mural will remain in place until next year’s edition.

He called on residents to provide spaces, such as the sides of apartment blocks so that artists can express themselves in a similar way.

MTO is one of 18 international graffiti artists who participated in the festival, steered artistically by James Micallef Grimaud and which included an arts and crafts market and a music area.

Part of the Malta Arts Festival, the Sliema Arts Festival was held in collaboration with the Department of Local Councils, V18 Foundation, and the Sliema local council.

The committee also included Matthew Dimech, Paul Radmilli, Michael Briguglio and Arts Curator Rachel Formosa.

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