Peter Seychell: 'It’s useless worrying over stuff you have no control over'

Artist Peter Seychell tells all in our Q&A

Photo by Etienne Farrell
Photo by Etienne Farrell

In the last five years, Peter Seychell has shifted his focus from his career in the pharmaceutical industry to his art. His second solo exhibition, titled Room for Speculation is on till the 3 of March, at il-Kamra ta’ Fuq.

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

Straight out of bed, my first espresso of the day. I have a tiny machine in our bedroom just to make sure that it hits my system as soon as possible after opening my eyes.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

It’s useless worrying over stuff you have no control over.

What do you never leave the house without?

Specs, keys, wallet, and phone

Pick three words that describe yourself.

Ambitious, creative, and impatient

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

On a personal level, definitely my family, on a professional level, co-founding a company that today employs around 200 people and is considered a leader on a European level.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Pastizzi hands down and Te fit-tazza, followed by a cigarette and accompanied by some lively banter.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

By all means, push it and fight for it; like you really want it. Own it; like you really have it, but it’s yours only when God permits it.

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

Seriously.... I have no idea.

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

Kids grow up fast... I mean like way too fast.

Who’s your inspiration?

I get inspired relatively easily.  Driven people - people who chase their dreams, used to be a huge source of inspiration. These days it’s more about the soul... people, artists mainly, pouring their soul into their works. Not so much bothered by the final product being liked by the public but doing it, making it, painting it, playing it, unashamedly nonetheless.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Probably going into a line of business where although I understood the opportunity and understood the legislation, the subject matter itself was not my line of specialty, and I had to surround myself with people speaking scientific gibberish that I had no clue about.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

Now, whatever it is, if it strikes me and my wife is on board... we’re doing it.....    

Do you believe in God?

Yes... most definitely so. I have been through some very dark patches and my wife has been a constant support throughout. That said, prayer, the kind of prayer where you just lay it bare, show your anger, and give it all to God because you know that there is nothing else that you can do, that’s when you know, and feel, that someone or something’s pulling at the ropes of your life.

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

Dead, most definitely my Nannu Gann and Donny my father-in-law. But if it’s just that one dinner then I prefer to skip it.  Parting is just too painful, even though more than 30 years have passed since my grandpa’s passing. Alive, I would love to be able to sit down and have a good chat with my father... his condition makes this impossible.

What’s your worst habit?

More than a habit I’d say it’s a trait... anger and intolerance....and living in Malta, God, in his glory, makes sure that he serves me with a daily double helping of crap to keep my trait alive and kicking.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I don’t get drunk... it’s not that I don’t occasionally binge, it’s just that it doesn’t get to me. I don’t know perhaps getting drunk is size proportional in which case, I’d probably have to exponentially increase my consumption to reach drunk levels.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Not an easy one this... not many can do justice to my looks... I’d say I’ll have to settle for Clooney.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

..........Uuuu Ijjaaaa......., closely followed by any kind of “Ahna” and” Taghna”.... be it in sport, Political Parties, festas.... and my all-time favourite… Grazzi Ministu and that sort of nonsensical sucking up.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Ottolenghi by Loyle Calner.

What is your most treasured material possession?

Anything that was bought or sold for money isn’t worth much in my opinion, definitely not enough for me to be in that way.

What is your earliest memory?

In my grandpa’s garage fiddling around with tools standing on some kind of box to be able to reach on top of the workbench

When did you last cry, and why?

About 3mins ago answering the question about who I’d love to have dinner with... but then again those who know me know that I cry easily so don’t lose sleep over it.

Who would you most like to meet?

Let’s just say that there is no one out there that I would like to meet to tap on the back or congratulate for a job well done.

What’s your favourite food?

A good plate of pasta, fish, shellfish particularly, a beautiful piece of steak cooked rare... food

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

Anyone who says it as it is without playing up for the camera or public perception.

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

I’m more than happy with the here and now thank you very much. The past is the past and unfortunately, our generation isn’t doing much to stir in me any particular longing to peek into the future.

What book are you reading right now?

My reading is mostly periodicals, current affairs, travel, art, and geography.

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

The power to eradicate populism along with stupidity and egoism that propel it.

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

Doing more of what I’m doing now, surrounded by my family and friends, indulging in my art, and enjoying our travels…. that keeps me more than happy.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Anything with a good soul, I love Jazz Rap ... Loyle Carner, Tom Misch, Kofi Stone.... but I also like the types of Tracy Chapman, Alanis Morissette, Mark Knopfler, Mumford & Sons...