Shooting for the stars | Erika Zammit

Young painter Erika Zammit speaks to Teodor Reljic about The Final Frontier, her inaugural exhibition during which she will be showcasing works of art depicting space, alongside works on the same theme by Victor Grech

Erika Zammit
Erika Zammit

When did you first start painting? And what led you think this could be a long-term pursuit for you? 

My interest in painting started at a very young age as a hobby, and for as long as I can remember, art has always come naturally to me. Throughout the years, this interest evolved into a passion, and this led me to continue the arts as my studies. I don’t remember a time where art wasn’t a part of my life, and this was a major part in my decision to further my passion for the subject.

What drew you to science fiction as your theme of choice, and what excites you about the genre and its potential in visual art? 

Science fiction has been in my life since childhood. It all started as a curiosity and this was fed with lots of science and astronomy books, watching sci-fi series and movies with my family, and watching astronomy documentaries. I have been participating in the Science Fiction Symposia since the first one in 2014, and this year I approached the organisers with the idea of exhibiting space and sci-fi in art. I have been painting space for a few years, and the idea came about when I decided to combine my two passions: art and space. Although I’m not limited to astronomical and sci-fi Paintings, I feel that this genre is very unique worldwide, especially locally – and this inspires me to continue expanding this genre.

Painting by Erika Zammit
Painting by Erika Zammit

Could you talk a bit about your choice of style and technique in the works chosen for this exhibition? 

In my paintings, I use different techniques and media. My style varies depending on the composition of the painting itself – as different techniques bring out different and unique results. In this event I will be exhibiting paintings in both acrylic and oil paints, using different techniques in both types of media. My main technique is using a brush, but some work was carried out with palette knives.

Why did you opt for this kind of style in particular, and how do you think it strengthens the theme? 

My technique with brushes lets me depict all the millions of kilometres found in nebulae onto canvas, giving it the depth, and a life-like look. On the other hand, the palette-knife technique lets me create an idea of confusion and chaos. Sometimes both techniques were used in one painting.

What kind of collaboration do you have with your co-exhibitor, Victor Grech, and how would you say your work ties together? 

Victor Grech is a friend of the family, and many are the evenings spent discussing art, and space – sometimes even ending up painting together. Both of us enjoy discussing our different techniques and media, and also our different genres; as he paints seascapes and landscapes, while I tend to focus on figure drawings, portraits, and space. I approached him with the idea of hosting a space and sci-fi exhibition because both of us are sci-fi fans, and we both share interest in space and astronomy.

Painting by Victor Grech
Painting by Victor Grech

On that note, how does ‘The Final Frontier’ tie in with the Space and SciFi Symposium at the University of Malta? 

Victor Grech is the Chairman of SciFi Malta, who are the organisers of the Symposium Events, held in collaboration with ITHAMS (Institute of Technology, Humanities, the Arts, Medicine, and Science) and the University of Malta. My involvement in the Symposia as a helper and photographer has led me to the idea for this exhibition, as a visual and artistic part to this year’s Symposium.

What do you make of the visual arts scene in Malta? What would you change about it? 

I feel that the visual arts scene in Malta is very underrated, and unfortunately new artists are underappreciated, and find many obstacles in their path. Thankfully, these recent years have given birth to more artistic events, and Valletta 2018 has already started to boost the art scene locally. Certain changes need to come about for new artists to have a fairer go at exhibiting their work, and to gain access to grants. Finding sponsorships can also be challenging, which can be discouraging for many local artists.

What’s next for you? 

I will be focusing on going abroad to further my studies in the near future, as well as hosting more exhibitions in different genres. Painting is only one way in which I express myself artistically, as I also work in genres like photography and jewellery-making. At the moment, I’m expanding my carrier by studying jewellery design – creating my own unique designs and converting them into art works is something that fills me with pride.

The Final Frontier will be on display at the Pembroke Local Council from July 20-23. The exhibition will be open at 20:00 on July 20, and remain open during the following hours for the remaining days: 09:00-21.00 (July 21 and 22) and 09:00-20:30 (July 23)