Joyce Camilleri: 'Everyone is replaceable in the workplace; quality is another story'

Artist Joyce Camilleri tells all in our Q&A

Joyce Camilleri is a visual artist and educator, who brings 20 years’ experience in mentoring artistic talent in local educational institutions as a member of the Department of Visual Arts in the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta, and the Malta School of Art. Camilleri is also founder of Jo Borg Gallery, a forum for emerging and established artists, aiming to develop an artist-centred legacy that values tradition, embraces innovation and reflects contemporary creative culture.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I switch off my alarm and savour a good 30 minutes of mindfulness before I start my day with a coffee usually prepared by my eldest son.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Less is more.

What do you never leave the house without?

My house keys, my workplace pass and the gallery keys. Necessity could take me anywhere during the day.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Artist, mentor, listener.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Founding Jo Borg Gallery, a project that required passion, foresight and determination.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?


What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Everyone is replaceable in the workplace; quality is another story.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

An artwork by 20th century Maltese artist Gabriel Caruana.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Being frank is ok when expressed with respect and empathy.

Where do you find inspiration?

Life itself – simple acts of kindness and raw beauty, paired with the skill and propensity to take notice.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Reading a masters degree while raising two young boys and having a full-time job.

If you weren’t an artist/educator/gallery owner, what would you be doing?

A poet, a writer, maybe an interpreter. I am predominantly a visual artist, with a fascination for language aesthetics.

Do you believe in God?

I trust someone is listening to my regular conversations with myself and possibly scratching their head too.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Louise Bourgeois, listening to her vivid narratives of childhood that brought about her captivating work.

What’s your worst habit?


What are you like when you’re drunk?

At most I allow myself to be relatively tipsy – initially I can be hilariously funny until drowsiness takes over and I fall asleep.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Ann Hathaway.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What music would you have played at your funeral?

John Cage’s 4’33. No I’m kidding. Debussy’s Moonlight Sonata. It transports you elsewhere.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My artworks.

What is your earliest memory?

Drinking tea whilst watching Michael Jackson’s newly released music video ‘Thriller’ on TV, with my sister dancing in the background. Probably we both had nightmares that night.

When did you last cry, and why?

Last week for the sudden demise of a friend. He was a true gentleman. A rare breed nowadays.

Who would you most like to meet?

Georg Baselitz, one of the few 20th century post-war artists who are still alive and whose work strongly challenged the trends of his time.

What’s your favourite food?

Sushi when I’m out with friends. My mum’s pumpkin pie is an all-time homemade favourite.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

None in particular. I don’t tend to idolise people I don’t actually know.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

Last week. I would have procrastinated less on another task intended for today.

What book are you reading right now?

Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950’s New York by Alexander Nemerov.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Patience, I think it can be considered a superpower nowadays.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Feeling accomplished and above all having no regrets.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Whatever 89.7 Bay would be playing while I’m driving.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

Whatever my youngest son would have been humming and/or singing during the day.