Back
Register for SMS Alerts
or enter your details manually below...
First Name:
Last Name:
Email:
Password:
Hometown:
Birthday:
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.
Existing users
Email
Password
Sorry, we couldn't find those details.
Enter Email
Sorry, we couldn't find that email.

Artists up in arms over company seeking to commercialise art areas

A Polish company has contacted a local artist with a plan for a ‘large-scale advertisement in the form of printed vinyl net on the blind walls of buildings or mural–painted pictures on walls’

tia_reljic
Tia Reljic
15 December 2017, 11:21am
 wall mural in Bellavista Road in San Gwann risks being covered by commercial advertising
wall mural in Bellavista Road in San Gwann risks being covered by commercial advertising
Local street artists have expressed concern after a foreign company contacted a number of local councils in a bid to use space previously allocated to street art to put up commercial advertising, MaltaToday has learned.

The company, which claims to be an ‘outdoor advertising’ firm that has been active in the European Union for 11 years has contacted local street artist James Micallef Grimaud and president of the Malta Street Art Collective in an attempt to commission an artist to cover the existing artwork with advertisement murals.

Micallef Grimaud was previously assigned to manage the Bellavista mural in San Gwann, which he now fears is being targeted by the company, Tatra Trading Limited.

“They’re trying to get permits by selling the idea that the adverts are a creative thing that would improve the walls, even though they are nothing but blatant adverts on 6-floor murals,” Micallef Grimaud said.

“In Malta, there are many of walls reserved for artwork, or that would be ideal to be used for street art. The country shouldn’t be investing in advertising in place of creative work. It’s just visual pollution. An argument posed by the local council is that the wall is looking shabby at the moment, but I had offered to refurbish the wall a couple of years ago and they refused.”

Another artist involved in organising the Bellavista mural, Chris de Souza Jensen, told us that although the company might be offering a significant amount of money for the advertising project, the artists are not amused by the offer. “We think there’s lack of integrity to it,” he said.

Pavement signage placed in front of the mural is to be moved elsewhere
Pavement signage placed in front of the mural is to be moved elsewhere
The company contacted the artist with a campaign plan for ‘large-scale advertisement in the form of printed vinyl net on the blind walls of buildings or mural – painted picture on the walls.’

“We are currently developing our business in the Maltese market and we have clients interested in running an advertising campaign in Malta. We are interested in extending our activities to several advertising locations throughout Malta,” the company said in a correspondence with Micallef Grimaud.

Such proposals are particularly threatening to artists due to the fact that street art is persistently underfunded. Executive secretary of the San Gwann local council, Kurt Guillaumier, told this newspaper that previous proposals to restore the wall were too costly for the council.

Some artwork which can be found in San Gwann was previously co-financed through EU culture funds, and MSAC has sent a proposal for a new project in order to counteract the company’s plans.

The project aims to restore the Bellavista wall mural once per year, with each year focusing on a different topic. MSAC teamed up with Agenzija Zghazagh and other volunteers to promote a healthy environment through art and continue the San Gwann legacy of artistic promotion through murals which will be part of the V18 list of cultural events.

Guillaumier said that the murals which require refurbishing are “almost an eyesore”, and that if the proposal were to be given in writing to the council, the decision would be between picking the worst of two evils. If the walls are not restored and the proposals come in, he said, the choice would be between retaining the unsightly artwork or accepting to fill them with adverts. “But I am yet to receive a written proposal, and until then, the issue will not enter the agenda.”

Adverts in the form of pavement signage on bollards, come with by-laws and established fees but do not require a permit from the Planning Authority. However, they do need a no-objection from the local council.

One such advert was recently placed in front of artwork which was designed by Micallef Grimaud in collaboration with San Gwann local council and Dogs Trust, an animal welfare charity. The local council said that it will be requesting that the advert be moved so as not to obstruct the artwork.

tia_reljic
Tia Reljic joined MaltaToday in 2017