The Maltese circus | Mark Scicluna

MCAST lecturer, MaltaToday cartoonist and co-creator of the popular webcomic A Space Boy Dream Mark Scicluna speaks to us about participating in ‘Xebgha Nies’, an eclectic collaborative exhibition at St James Cavalier kicking off on February 21.

"I wanted to combine several elements from Maltese culture with characters in a pop and art nouveau posters. I was also very much inspired by early circus performers."

 "With regards to subject, rather than portraying Maltese characters (which is what I usually do) I wanted to have characters that look like circus freaks and combine them with Maltese themes, objects or cultural elements. Although some of the themes are a bit obvious, I tried to diverge as much as possible and combine the two elements in bizarre ways."

 "The biggest difference [to A Space Boy Dream] is that this time around I worked in traditional media rather than digital. Otherwise I don't think there's much of a difference. I'm always very finicky when it comes to choosing a concept or coming up with an idea, even with commercial work and drawings that I do for myself. Method-wise, this is not something I have done before. I have basically worked with a light box, Indian ink, gouache and water colours and illustrated these drawings the way I usually work in digital media, only this time the layers are real!"

 "The local art scene has definitely been flourishing for the past couple of years, both in the fine arts and in the commercial arts sector. There are also a lot of crossovers between what was typically considered as 'illustration' and fine arts, possibly due to the emergence of digital artwork as well. The priority for the young Maltese artist should be to not fear change. We tend to have a mentality that doing work that is liked by many is safe and will get you a job, and maybe it will but it won't distinguish you from the rest. And of course starting from the basics always helps. I still believe that one needs to know the rules before they break them."

'Xebgha Nies' will also feature work by Debbie Caruana Dingli, Andrew Diacono, Marisa Attard, Steve Bonello, Moira Zahra, Paul Scerri, Saviour Baldacchino and Kenneth Zammit Tabona. The exhibition will run from February 21 until March 30.