Street art on the screen

They’ve made San Gwann a bit brighter with their mural painting, and their efforts have been documented on video. We speak to two artists from the Troglodyte team, who aim to bring graffiti out of the ghetto.

The collaborative mural at Bella Vista, San Gwann.
The collaborative mural at Bella Vista, San Gwann.

Putting Colour Into the Streets was perhaps one of the most striking visual art initiatives over the recent months. Pitting together a group of graffiti artists with the aim of sprucing up Malta's urban landscape, the initiative kicked off with the Bella Vista wall in San Gwann - which can now be enjoyed in all of its eclectic, full-colour glory.

But the public will also be privy to the step-by-step progress of the group's efforts, as the first of a three-part documentary on the Putting Colour to the Streets initiative was screened at V-Gen, Ball Street, Paceville last Sunday - presented by the street art initiative Troglodyte. This first part of the documentary - which is available on YouTube - will focus on the San Gwann wall in particular.

Two of the artists - Chris de Souza Jensen (aka SeaPuppy) and James Micallef Grimaud (aka Twitch) - spoke to MaltaToday about the initiative said that the hard work put into the wall was made worthwhile by the positive reaction they received.

"The best feedback we've gotten was having mother passing by with their kids actually thanking us for doing the mural," Micallef Grimaud says, while his colleague chimes in with a different kind of reaction.

"The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. There was one time however when a guy screamed out his car, and made as if to insult me by yelling out: 'f***ing Caravaggio!' But let's be honest here, that's a big unintentional compliment on his part. I mean I'm alright, but I'm not that good," de Souza Jensen says.

"As far as people who were never exposed to street art before were concerned...  again, the response was overwhelmingly positive. It just goes to show that art is art no matter kind of surface or medium you're using," he adds.

The Troglodyte collective - which was first conceived "over a couple of beers in a Hamrun bar" - is made up, apart from Micallef Grimaud and de Souza Jensen, of an international handful of graffiti artists: two of which are Tino Moebius (aka Emoon) and Christian Langer, who "stayed in Malta as they saw a potential in Malta with all these virgin walls", as well as illustrator Daniela Attard (aka Iella), who was recruited by the collective after she impressed them with her talents during the Malta Comic Con in 2010.

"Our aim really is to simply make Malta a more interesting place to venture through -  something that shows a more human side to where we live. Also, I hope that by engaging in such a direct form of public art, people would get a first-hand look at the labour that goes into a painting, and that they would learn to appreciate the importance of an artist in society," de Souza Jensen says.

The documentary, which is directed by Julian Delia, "will provide another perspective and allow the audience to witness the process behind making a mural of such large proportions," according to Micallef Grimaud.

Micallef Grimaud also adds that the upcoming two segments of the documentary will focus on projects that Troglodyte will be taking on in participation with local councils and schools, as well as the next two murals they'll be taking on.

But which areas of Malta are next in line to be given the Troglodyte treatment?

"It's a well-kept secret which will soon be unravelled," Micallef Grimaud says.

Watch the full video here.