Creative Maltese in Parallel

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Creative Maltese in Parallel

A study about the possible multidimensional / hybrid identities of Creative Maltese abroad. Written & Illustrated by Moira Scicluna Zahra


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Abstract


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Abstract

In this study I set out to explore the possible multidimensional aspects of contemporary cultural Maltese identity, and how it changes or adapts when Maltese nationals live and work abroad. I started this study by trying to find out what the contemporary Maltese identity is, and asking participants and respondents what makes us Maltese, and what defines a Maltese person. I followed this up by an exploration into how immigration affects identity, how artistic growth develops outside of our country of origin, and how creative Maltese immigrants are affected by their surroundings both personally and creatively. I concluded this study by looking into the idea of a multidimensional identity with a particular focus on creative Maltese immigrants abroad. My research is based primarily on personal communication including online Video-calls and Email interviews with Maltese nationals who live abroad, or who have lived abroad for a period of time, and who typically work in the creative sector. For my key informants, I have interviewed Dr. Daniela Debono, a lecturer in International Migration and Ethnic Relations at the University of MalmĂś, Ms.Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Head of Creative Europe Desk Malta and founder of MaltaDoors and Mr.Marco Scerri, a Graphic Design lecturer and practising Graphic Designer based in Glasgow who is keen to explore links between his work and Mediterranean culture.


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Part 1

Part 1: The Maltese Cultural Identity What constitutes the Maltese cultural identity? Identity is typically associated with language, culture, beliefs, traditions and lifestyle. Our identity is who we are, but an identity can also be fluid, and this fluidity is particularly prominent when we move to live in a different country. Here we’re often faced with a different culture and beliefsystem. We no longer have our families and closest friends with us, and often we find ourselves questioning our identity. I started the proposal for this study when I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland just a few days after The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in a referendum. Most of the UK was and still is, almost two years later, deeply divided over whether it wants to be in the EU or not. The discussion surrounding this scenario largely has to do with identity. Being a recent immigrant in the midst of perhaps the climax of this discussion, I questioned my own identity, and as so often happens this swiftly made its way into my sketchbook, and later became a research question. I thought that the most honest way to find answers to my question was to talk to other creative Maltese nationals to see how or whether their identity had also been affected by their move from Malta to another country.


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Part 1


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Part 1


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 1

What is the Maltese identity to you?

What defines a Maltese person?

These answers were collected from an online survey of 43 largely Maltese respondents who live or have lived abroad and who work in the creative sector. Upon looking at this cloud, one quickly understands how much the Maltese identity varies. Although the Maltese person is often stereotyped, we find that the Maltese are quite a diverse culture. Having said that, there were some descriptions that were mentioned more than others. The most popular definition of a Maltese identity were (in order of popularity):

Michael Quinton, an Edinburgh-based Sound-Design Academic and Musician, describes Malta as a “Melting pot of cultures that have come together”. He goes on to say that Malta is a very concentrated society because it’s small so it’s easy to meet different types of people. “There’s quite a wide spectrum of Maltese people... Malta is a multilingual culture and if you look at the roots of where families come from, it’s a multinational culture and sometimes you can see that. Some families are more Italian, some families are more exotic, more Arabic, more British.” (Michael Quinton, Video-call Interview, 2018). Michael explains that Maltese society can also be quite bipolar, and this is evident when it comes to football, politics and village feasts. He expresses that the fact that Maltese people support the Italians and the English in football reflects the history of Malta and that they identify with different cultures. “From my perspective, my Maltese identity is the hybridity of it. When someone asks me about Malta, I’m very quick to get to the Arabic part. I think the language is so interesting. I understand Arabic because of Maltese… Then there’s the Italian and French influences as well.” (Claudia Baldacchino, an Edinburgh-based Graphic Design student, Video-call Interview, 2018). Some interview participants were harsher in their responses. Nicole Sciberras Debono, a student based in Ferrara, expresses that Maltese are typically loud, annoying and patriotic but only when it suits them. She goes on to say that most Maltese are egocentric and racist, generous but selfish. Alexandra admits that the stereotype of Maltese people isn’t often positive because of how things are marketed towards the Maltese. “There’s no investment in arts or culture. When something is for the public, it’s very loud and tacky.” Daniela Attard, a London-based Designer and Illustrator, describes the Maltese as “Contradictory”. “We tend to be judgemental but we’re helpful. If I had to pick one word, I’d pick contradiction. We have contradictory values. Small place, small island. It’s a comfortable life there but you’re restricted to what you can do and what you can become.” (Daniela Attard, Video-call Interview, 2018).

Hardworking (7), Loud (7), Traditional (5), Friendly (4), Welcoming (4) Family oriented (4) Mediterranean (3) food lovers (3) Helpful (3) Social (3) Culture-rich (3) Angry (3) Island mentality (3). Interview participants’ answers were quite similar, with hard-working being a popular description in most cases. One participant who wishes to remain anonymous, mentioned that in the past we were more likely to say “Catholic upbringing”, “Mediterranean identity” and “Southern-European”. She also expressed that because we live in a small country, we are likely to be more “hard-working” and “competitive”, although our culture and identity tend to be a bit “provincial”. “Extremely European, which is quite a misnomer especially with young people. They strongly identify as European. I can see that there is a large difference between the Maltese way of doing things and Northern Europeans.” (Participant wishes to remain anonymous, Video-call Interview, 2018). “An Inescapable part of being Maltese is our history and the fact that our whole identity is built on bits and pieces of other cultures and identities, and merged into this new and special thing.” (Alexandra Aquilina, Videocall Interview, 2018). Alexandra, a Berlin-based Artist and Screen Printer, explains how she finds it fascinating how easy it is for her to connect with people from different cultures through shared elements. She also mentions that she finds it sad how the Maltese tend to refute and ignore the crucial and beautiful part of our identity that is Arabic, that is found in our language, architecture and physical traits. “I’ve never met a Maltese abroad who has introduced himself as Maltese very similar to Arabic or Arab / North African or Southern European, and if you press the Maltese, when they say we have a Mediterranean culture – ask what a Mediterranean culture is. To me it sounds like Greek, Italian, Spanish, but not Tunisian, Libyan or Egyptian.” (Participant wishes to remain anonymous, Video-call Interview, 2018). This participant continues to say that she doesn’t think that Arab culture is a part of the Maltese identity largely because there is a repudiation of any Arab links or similarities in Malta. She states that this can be seen very clearly when people are asked to describe the Maltese language. The majority of Maltese typically avoid saying Arabic, but instead refer to “Semitic” and over-emphasise the fact that Maltese is very similar to Italian.


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 1

Do you feel Maltese?

One of my initial questions to interview participants was ‘Do you feel Maltese?’ Due to the fact that the interview participants are either immigrants or had been immigrants at one point in their lives, it is understandable how this question was a tough one to answer. Indeed in the research article A Third Individuation – Immigration, Identity and the Psychoanalytical Process, Akhar(1995) explains that immigration is a complex process that has lasting effects on a person’s identity. The participants’ answers to my question were quite mixed, with some being a definite “No, I do not feel Maltese”, others saying “Yes, I do feel Maltese”, and the rest feeling conflicted. Interestingly, I found that participants who lived abroad for a longer time, have a foreign parent, or who were born abroad, were more likely to say that they feel Maltese. In Maltese in London, a book looking at Maltese Immigration in London during the 60s, Geoff Dench(1975) quotes research findings that showed 35 percent of Maltese living in London in the 60s felt English, 35 percent identified as Maltese, with the remainder being unsure. The author calls this a “low level of ethnic consciousness” where at the time it seems that association among Maltese in Britain was quite limited. In my interviews with creative Maltese who have lived abroad, or are still living abroad, I’ve had several interesting responses to ‘Do you feel Maltese?’ Here I’ve listed some of them:

“If I’m entirety honest, I have been partial to a slight identity crisis; I was born in the UK, I was adopted at birth, I wouldn’t say that my family is very traditional. I attended an international school from the age of 7 till 18, then left the country at 19 to study, and my ‘Malteseness’ has been questioned by multiple strangers saying I do not look Maltese. But having said all that, I would still say I do feel Maltese, and with time this sentiment seems to get stronger.” (Louise Aquilina, Designer and Fashion Design Lecturer currently based in Malta, Email interview, 2018). “No, I don’t, I don’t really think I ever have. I guess that is one of the reasons I was so eager to leave the first chance I got. Growing up I didn’t really feel like I ‘fit’ into this society and its collective mindset. I never really associated myself and properly integrated.” (Stephanie Scicluna, Photographer and Photography Lecturer currently based in Malta, Email interview, 2018). “I don’t feel Maltese. There is a stereotype about Maltese people that I don’t want to associate with. Most of the time I feel like an outsider and made to feel different.” (Nicole Sciberras Debono, A Ferrara-based student, Email Interview, 2018).

“No, I’ve always chosen to take the ‘outsider’ role living here, it just came natural to me. Maybe it was one way of coping with the environment – a.k.a – thinking of yourself as a tourist of some sort in your own country, makes everything seem much more interesting. (Participant wishes to remain anonymous, Email Interview, 2018). “Yes I feel pretty Maltese, now that I’ve left the country! When I was living in Malta, I would always be stereotyped as ‘not Maltese’ just based on the way that I look (also because I am half Norwegian, but was born and raised in the South of Malta), so I constantly felt the need to respond to people in Maltese to kind of validate that fact I guess.” (Inez Baldacchino, Animation Student based in Denmark, Email Interview, 2018). “Part of the reason why I live abroad is that.. the biggest reason in fact, is that I don’t really feel I have many things in common with Maltese people in general. This is excluding my own social circle of people who are in the same cultural profession. So no, not very much.” (Fabrizio Mifsud Soler, Art Curator Based in Budapest, Video-call Interview, 2018). “Yes I do feel Maltese but I’m conflicted about it. It’s something that I struggle with on a daily basis. The longer I’ve been here, the worse it keeps getting to the point whether I’m not sure if I’m more English or Maltese at this point.” (Daniela Attard, Designer and Illustrator based in London, Video-call Interview, 2018).


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 1

The Maltese creative identity

“Yes I do feel Maltese, which is strange because I wasn’t born in Malta. I’m half Maltese and I learned how to speak Maltese when I moved to Malta. Even though I could speak Maltese, I spoke it with an accent, and that sometimes caused a bit of discrimination in certain instances. So those were the moments where I didn’t feel Maltese. So I’ve got this thing where I do associate with my Maltese identity because of my heritage and because I’ve contributed to the society. I lived there for 27 years, I call myself Maltese, but at the same time I always was an outsider. Even when I was back in England, the fact that I had a Maltese mother, that always meant that I wasn’t fully English as well. So when it comes with identifying with who I am, I think nowadays I’ve reached a point where I don’t really identify with any of the cultures.” (Michael Quinton, Sound-Designer and Academic based in Edinburgh, Video-call Interview, 2018). “Yes I’ve always felt Maltese. It’s the one constant identity that I’ve felt. I’ve definitely tried to renounce parts of my identity but never the Maltese. My family is Maltese, so I think that especially living here in Edinburgh, I feel the most Maltese. In America, I used to say I’m English because they don’t know what Malta is. When I moved back here, I started saying I’m from Malta. It explains how I look and my accent. It’s the most exotic, exciting part of my identity as well.” (Claudia Baldacchino, Graphic Design student based in Edinburgh, Videocall Interview, 2018).

Malta’s present cultural background

“After we got our independence, we wanted to find out what Malta was, what it is.” (Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Video-call Interview, 2018). In a Video-call Interview with Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Director of Creative Europe Desk Malta and founder of MaltaDoors – a popular Instagram page that documents traditional Maltese facades and architecture, we discussed the many definitions of Maltese identity and how it is still evolving. Lisa feels that the Maltese are still trying to discover who they are, but that we still haven’t accepted where we’re coming from. She expresses that the Maltese don’t tend to embrace their multiculturalism, the peoples who have conquered the islands and who in turn formed part of our heritage and genetic make-up. Lisa continues to say that this contributes to Malta’s diversity, and that “Malteseness” cannot exist without referring back to our history and multicultural roots. “Living in Malta, speaking Maltese, is as Maltese as you’re going to get, but it doesn’t mean that you’re just the product of this little island and your parents. It’s so much more complex than this.” (Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Video-call Interview, 2018). Lisa agrees that the Maltese identity is in itself a topic of various creative projects in Malta because Maltese artists are realising that things are shifting and changing at an alarming rate around them, and this tends to result in an “immediate sense of loss”. Lisa describes her own project, MaltaDoors as a way of documenting and preserving something that is being taken away from the Maltese before our own eyes, and she understands that many other Maltese creatives who are using Maltese traditions and identity as influences or the subject of their projects, have this same purpose in mind. “I think a lot of people know what Maltese traditions are, or what informs our identity, and yet there was a lack of appreciation for it, so I think whether we set out to do that [documenting Maltese traditions] from the onset or not, that’s what it became about. Once you start looking at architecture and details, at apertures, colours, textures and then you start realising that it’s disappearing, you try to fight against time a little bit, and you try to document as much as possible.” (Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Video-call Interview, 2018).

What is Malta’s present cultural landscape like, and how has the Maltese art scene evolved? As someone who actively attends cultural events in Malta, Lisa explains that the Maltese contemporary art scene has evolved quite a bit and that this is largely due to Valletta being named the European Capital of Culture in 2018. She states that the now branded V18 brought with it various cultural flagship projects that amongst other things, resulted in new art galleries opening but other smaller ones, closing down. “We’re in a state of in-between I feel, where you have some things which are dying out, other things which are starting to flourish a little bit; always a lot of potential.” (Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Video-call Interview, 2018). Lisa explains that the European Capital of Culture programme is what set the ball rolling for many events and projects in Malta’s contemporary culture scene. She says that the Maltese Arts Fund in 2008 was launched on the same year that V18 had acquired its first director. When there was the possibility of Malta becoming European Capital of Culture, things started moving, and Lisa expresses that this has affected a lot of different areas in Malta’s arts and culture sectors. “Less than 10 years later – we have a proliferation of funding towards the arts...So we have to understand that these funds are directly linked to Valletta being European Capital of Culture.” (Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Video-call Interview, 2018). Despite the positives of the European Capital of Culture, Lisa says that, as a person who regularly attends cultural events, she feels lost at the present moment. She notices that there are too many things happening in a very small space. Lisa explains that most exhibitions in Malta only last two to three weeks, since the Maltese do not have the luxury of large exhibition spaces like the Tate and the V&A. Because of this, people need to make a bigger effort to visit exhibitions, because they are there very briefly. “I am seeing a change but at the moment it’s too much of an in-between state. I can’t tell where it is going precisely.” (Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Video-call Interview, 2018).


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 2

Part 2: Immigration and Maltese Identity “Immigration from one country to another is a complex and multi-faceted psychosocial process with significant and lasting effects on an individual’s identity. Leaving one’s country involves profound losses. Often one has to give up familiar food, native music, unquestioned social customs, and even one’s language. The new country offers strange-tasting food, new songs, different political concerns, unfamiliar language, pale festivals, unknown heroes, psychically unearned history, and a visually unfamiliar landscape. However, alongside the various losses is a renewed opportunity for psychic growth and alteration. New channels of self-expression become available. There are new identification models, different superego dictates, and different ideals. One thing is clear: immigration results in a sudden change from an “average expectable environment” (Hartmann,1950) to a strange and unpredictable one.” (Akhtar,1995). If, as Akhtar(1995) explains in his research article, immigration can be so hard on an individual and causes “profound losses”, why do so many Maltese, and particularly Maltese in the creative sector, feel that they need to move away? Is it ultimately a need for the “strange and unpredictable” environment? Does this type of environment provide Maltese creatives with more inspiration, or is it simply because nowadays it is the norm for people to live in different countries? When I asked participants why they think Maltese creatives tend to want to move abroad, most participants answered

that it was probably due to better opportunities abroad, but when I asked participants why they had personally moved, the answer was often more emotional. The word “outsider” was mentioned more than once when participants explained how they felt in Malta, with some mentioning that they didn’t feel that they belonged in their own home country. Some participants even admitted they they used an “opportunity” to “escape”. This is quite curious, especially when we look back at Maltese immigration during the 60s. In Maltese in London, Dench(1975, p.16) explains that in the 1960s in Malta, emigration was regarded as a short-term “safety-valve” to be used in difficult periods. He states that during the majority of the nineteenth century and perhaps earlier, migrant clow in Malta consisted of people drifting along trade and shipping links with nearby Mediterranean ports. When economy in Malta was suffering, people would move out, but when the situation improved, most Maltese would return. Dench(1975) also states however, that not every emigrant was a “reluctant exile” with many being “only too glad of the opportunity to get away”. He adds that this was usually related to disaffection with the dominance of the church in Malta, “from which emigration may appear to offer the only release”. Dench (1975) adds that it’s not easy to live in Malta and ignore the church, and that wherever you are in Malta, you’re almost sure to have a church building in sight. He calls the atmosphere as


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 2

Why do Maltese creatives immigrate?

being “extremely oppressive” and that Maltese who have never moved away also felt a lack of individual privacy and freedom. “This island is so small and claustrophobic that physical movement within it is no solution; there is nowhere that one can go without being recognised.” (Dench, 1970, p.22). Of course, we have to take into consideration that the power of the church has decreased dramatically since the 60s, and the Maltese economy is significantly more stable at the present time, so it’s quite interesting that Maltese nationals still feel the need to “escape” to another country. With regards to Maltese working in the creative sector, is it possible that they are looking for personal creative growth, and to enhance or modify their personal identity? In my Video-call interview with Dr.Daniela Debono, she expresses that with Irregular migrants who come by boat via the African

and Mediterranean route, there is often an erosion or a remaking of identity. She explains that she’s not sure which one comes first, but when immigrants reach Italy, they often speak of their hopes and expectations of their new life. She adds that these opportunities that they want to access through migration, often have to do with a wish to remake their identity. “If identity is how the person sees himself and his role within a community and society, in a very philosophical way, it is what they would like to make of themselves during their lifetime.” (Dr. Daniela Debono, Video-call Interview, 2018). Although we cannot exactly compare irregular migrants to economic migrants, there seems to be a common theme of a remaking of an identity, a need to escape, and that of searching for better opportunities.


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Part 2


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 2

Are there enough opportunities for Maltese creatives in Malta at the moment?

Yes No Unsure % % % 22 67 11 “Money and opportunities make people want to move abroad.” asserts Christopher Aquilina, a Malta-based Graphic Design lecturer who has lived in the UK for a number of years. He stresses that in order to be creative, one doesn’t have to move abroad, but he thinks that one is more likely to make more money abroad and to explore tougher, richer environments. Christopher feels that by experiencing and understanding a different way of living, a person can apply various layers to their identity. “I was never truly myself before I made the move, I was not allowed to be. I didn’t know how to be.” admits Stephanie Scicluna. She continues to say that Malta often seems to present a person with a selection of templates; archetypes of personalities within which a person may grow. She felt that when growing up in Malta, individuality and the expression of such was shunned. Stephanie feels that Maltese creatives move abroad because “art in Malta doesn’t really exist”. She thinks that it is very limited and restricted, and although she states that it has improved vastly since she lived in Malta for the first time, she still feels it has miles to go. Stephanie believes that the general collective mindset and mentality of Maltese society is what is restricting art, ideas and the overall growth of the country. “Well, there was a phase where everyone was leaving, I think a lot of people are still leaving, but you can’t say everyone has left.” Fabrizio, a Budapest-based Art Curator, believes that with regards to Maltese creatives who move abroad, “it’s not as bad as it looks” and that many do go back. He feels that Maltese tend to complain because there aren’t enough opportunities, however he finds that there are people who make do and are still creative in Malta. Others, he says, feel like they have to leave because they feel that there’s nothing for them.

Fabrizio doesn’t think that many people leave for creative purposes, however he also admits that not every person who has left Malta had a job waiting for them. He says that the Maltese know that they can do more and be more elsewhere, and Malta’s not become enough for them. Fabrizio’s reason for leaving Malta was specifically because of identity. He says that he didn’t feel comfortable in Malta and that it was to a certain detriment to his well-being to stay. “I did this for me, with all the good and bad that it entails. I would have a much more stable life at home. I have certain foundations there, I have my friends and family. But apart from that, everything else I did not feel comfortable with.” (Fabrizio Mifsud Soler, Videocall Interview, 2018). Inez Baldacchino feels that Maltese creatives tend to move because there’s not enough money and opportunities in Malta in certain sectors, while Daniela Attard says that she used the opportunity of a Masters Degree as an excuse to move, because she was feeling very “suffocated”. She does say that since the boom of iGaming in Malta, there is more work for illustrators and graphic designers, but she feels that for anyone who’s ambitious, Malta is still very restrictive.


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 2

Do you think the Maltese lifestyle facilitates professional creative work?

Yes No % % % 22 26 52

Lifestyle irrelevant

“Malta was too claustrophobic. It was not a question of feeling suffocated creatively, but more so as the type of person that I am. The fact that I’m a woman, in graphic design I felt like that in order to work with certain companies, you needed to be a certain kind of stereotype. I wasn’t ready to become a different person to find a job. I also needed a change.” (Alexandra Aquilina, Video-call Interview, 2018). Alexandra explains that some people just need to move, and that she moved specifically because she fell in love with Berlin. She also states that she has no plans to move elsewhere or to move back. Alexandra feels that certain people believe that Maltese creatives take the big step of leaving to be able to grow artistically, because at one point when she was still studying, there were fewer opportunities in the arts in Malta. “Deep down however, I guess it’s more of a social issue, of not feeling that you’re part of something or feeling alienated in your own country because of how you see the world. Being in Berlin allows me to be who I want to be, to explore part of my identity that I would have not had the opportunity to explore simply because it is larger… In Malta I felt stunted, not just as a creative person but as a human being.” (Alexandra Aquilina, Video-call Interview, 2018). Michael Quinton feels that the music scene in Malta is very poor. He says that although there are various interesting bands coming up, there isn’t a proper music scene with regular activities. When asked why he thinks creative Maltese nationals tend to want to move abroad, he replies that they need to move, mainly because locally there is a threshold of how much one can learn. “Once you hit that ceiling, you can’t really develop beyond. Locally you don’t have enough ideas spinning around in the air to influence your work. Somehow when you go abroad, you can experience a much more diverse palette of different things and you meet different people with newer knowledge to expand your knowledge.” (Michael Quinton, Video-call Interview, 2018).

Claudia Baldacchino says that nowadays people don’t have to move away because there are more opportunities in Malta, and so there is less of a need to go abroad. She also mentions that with projects like Maltatype, MaltaDoors and Te’ fit-Tazza, there is a growing interest in Malta and Maltese elements for people who are based in Malta. An anonymous respondent expresses that although Maltese creatives tend to move for lack of job opportunities, the Maltese need to learn how to create opportunities themselves first, and realise that the Maltese already have the knowledge and resources to achieve this. She feels that once this starts to happen, and the arts as a sector starts to see proper growth, less Maltese creatives will want to move abroad for opportunities. I found Claudia’s response quite interesting in particular because she specifically mentions Lisa Gwen Baldacchino’s MaltaDoors as a sign of growing interest in Malta. Earlier in this study, Lisa had mentioned that this project was in fact a result of documenting and nostalgia rather than simply a growing interest in Malta. She also mentioned that even other projects like Te fit-Tazza and Maltatype are primarily trying to preserve Maltese traditions that Malta is slowly losing. Are these initiatives a celebration of Malta in that case, or are they an ongoing artistic protest to preserve our Maltese identity?


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 2

Remaking of an identity

“Clearly, the immigrant must give up part of his individuality, at least temporarily, in order to become integrated in the new environment. The greater the difference between the new community and the one to which he once belonged, the more he will have to give up.” (Grinberg and Grinberg,1989, p.901 as quoted by Akhtar, 1995). This quote resonated with me quite a bit, because when you immigrate, you do feel that your individuality and therefore your identity is changing. I started this part of the study by asking Dr. Debono whether she agrees with Akhtar, that an immigrant must give up part of his individuality to integrate into a new environment. “Rather than loss of identity, it’s remaking of an identity, it’s adding new layers to an identity.” (Dr.Daniela Debono, Video-call Interview, 2018). Dr. Debono explains that an immigrant cannot remain one hundred percent as they were before they moved. The different cultural, social and economic landscape, as well as different politics and communities force immigrants to change their attitudes and everyday behaviour. When I asked whether they felt their identity had changed when they moved abroad, participants’ answers were quite mixed, with some saying they have felt a change in identity, others saying they felt more Maltese when they moved, and the rest stating that they didn’t see a change. “I think when I was younger and lived in London for the first time, I probably felt I had 2 identities, one for home, one for ‘away from home’, but the second time I lived in London perhaps I was more set in my ways so I didn’t really feel too different. I think I may have felt more special being from tiny Malta when meeting people who weren’t quite sure where Malta even may be!” (Louise Aquilina, Email interview, 2018). Michael Quinton feels that his identity is fluid and that it never stops changing once a person has left their familiar comfort zone behind. “You have to restart and adapt, you have to get into the lifestyle of where you’re living. You realise your mentality is changing according to your circumstances,” he says. Claudia Baldacchino admits that 10 years ago she didn’t like how multicultural her identity was, but now it’s what she loves most about it. She says that having lived in several different countries allows her to pick and choose and to get around her national identity, “My accent changes a lot based on where I live. In Malta my accents goes Maltese. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m trying to fit in but I definitely change the way I act, though I would never change the way I think.” (Claudia Baldacchino, Video-call Interview. 2018).


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Part 2

Do you have more Maltese characteristics when you’re in Malta?

Yes No % % 56 44


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 2

“Once I was on a train coming back, I don’t know where I was and I was crying because I was having an identity crisis.” (Daniela Attard, Video-call Interview, 2018). Daniela explains that one of the main reasons why she had an identity crisis was that she was trying too hard to be English to fit in. When she moved to the UK, she was very paranoid about her accent and tried her best to blend in rather than embrace her Maltese origin. Daniela also feels that living in London, a city which she describes as a place where “no one talks to one another”, added a layer of insularity and loneliness, but without realising she feels that socially she’s become more like the English. While Inez Baldacchino and another anonymous participant felt that living abroad has made them feel even more Maltese and made them more aware of who they are, others like Nicole Sciberras and Stephanie Scicluna say that they never really associated themselves with the Maltese lifestyle. Nicole expresses that living abroad gave her more leeway to be herself, despite feeling like a foreigner amongst locals. She feels that in Ferrara, she has more flexibility, freedom and independence without any prejudice, which gives her room to grow. Stephanie, who has lived abroad for several years but is now based in Malta, still doesn’t feel like herself in Malta, although recently she has seen an improvement. “You should not have to struggle and work so hard to try and be yourself in a place which is supposedly meant to be your home, and yet I see this quite regularly in Malta.” (Stephanie Scicluna, Email Interview, 2018). In The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean, Abulafia(2011) takes us through a rigorous journey of the history of the Mediterranean Sea. Amongst the Mediterranean countries, is of course Malta, located right in the middle, a prime location for trade. As a result, Malta has been colonised several times by Arabs, Romans, the French and the English amongst others. Our island is positioned between Europe and Africa, between Eastern Europe, Asia and Western Europe, so it’s no wonder us Maltese are stereotyped as always feeling like we’re at the centre of the world. Our language and the way we look reflects this history, this geographical position, and a substantial amount of Western and Eastern cultural influences. This led me to ask Dr. Debono whether she thinks that Maltese migrants adapt more easily to other cultures and to a new cultural identity, because of Malta’s particular geographical location and our diverse history? Dr. Debono explained that the Maltese tend to assimilate even in countries where foreigners are less accepted, and this is possible because identity is multifaceted. She compares identity to a bag of marbles, where an individual picks and chooses the combination that they want in order to represent themselves to a group. “In the past, they became so invisible that we don’t have any trace of these communities anymore. Whereas in countries like Australia, which had a policy of multiculturalism from early on, the Maltese tried to keep some sort of Malteseness together.” (Dr. Daniela Debono, Video-call Interview, 2018). Dr. Debono emphasises the fact that Malta has had different waves of immigration and because the island has been open to different flows of people including the British Colonial experience, this has made the Maltese more adaptable to different cultures. Dr. Debono adds that nowadays, the Maltese who decide to go abroad tend to be people who are searching for

a new migration experience or building another facet to their identity, an added value to how they see themselves and how they project themselves. “In Edinburgh it’s easier to adapt because we have many things in common already, whereas someone moving to Scandinavia might have a different experience. I think it depends on the history of where you’re going in relation to Malta. I do not think it’s a conscious thing.” (Claudia Baldacchino, Video-call Interview, 2018). In Maltese in London, Dench(1975) explains that many Maltese who moved to London in the 60s could very easily adapt to English culture, in fact they actively wanted to be seen as being more English. Dench explains that certain Maltese men who married English women were quite happy when their children used their mother’s surname where their patronymic was not known. “Many seemed to feel that fathering English children enhanced their own claim to English identity, so that the absence of ethnic consciousness among the children is to some extent a reflection of its weakness in the migrant generation.” (Dench, 1975, p.44). Dench(1975) goes on to explain that an expression of this mood can be found in a piece by Lena Jeger in the Guardian in 1963. In her piece, Mrs. Jeger portrayed the Maltese as “quiet” immigrants who were models of “self-effacement” in their concern to assimilate. As a Maltese immigrant with friends who are immigrants in different parts of the world, I can attest that even though Maltese immigrants find a sense of familiarity with other Maltese immigrants living in their city or town, they are also likely to integrate quite easily and actively look for friends and acquaintances from other countries and cultures. Having said that, various participants expressed that they felt more comfortable with people from “mediterranean” cultures such as Italy, Greece and Spain. Perhaps in them, they find a sense of home away from home. Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, who lives in Malta, agrees with Dr. Debono that Maltese have a penchant to be a bit “chameleonlike” when they move abroad, and she puts this down to a form of escapism. She says that she’s always been very much in love with Malta and something has always kept her from moving abroad, however she admits that this feeling has dissipated considerably over the last couple of years. Lisa feels that a lot of other people share her sentiment both now and in the past, and that’s what makes them want to get away. “There’s such a finely woven web of intricacy in this little country of ours, and because it’s so small you can easily become very much aware of it and it can easily get to you – when it does, this sense of wanting to pack your bags leave and start afresh and start anew can be quite overwhelming and I think it’s one of the reasons why people are so ready to adopt the customs, the fashion, the trends, the languages of other countries. There’s an incredible lack of structure in this country, and when you find it and experience it elsewhere, it’s like you can finally breathe and thrive, your potential can finally be used to its best.” (Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Video-call Interview, 2018).


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Part 3

Part 3: Artists, Identities and a changing Environment


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 3

Most artists are influenced by their surroundings in one way or another, with a changing sense of place altering both the style and the subject they choose to work with. Perhaps in the past this was more evident as certain art movements were prevalent in particular cities before spreading to other cities and countries. Nowadays, artists have easy access to traveling and through the internet they are able to instantly observe what’s happening in art scenes around

the world. Although we can still identify typical contemporary Mexican, Japanese and European art styles amongst others, contemporary creatives can more easily experiment with styles borrowed from various cultures worldwide. Despite this, we still often find that artists are inspired by the space around them, and in the case of immigrant artists, we might also see influences from their country of origin, sometimes interlaced with influences from their adopting country. An example of important immigrant artists’ work are Gauguin’s Martinique landscapes and Tahiti paintings, while In the literary world, Hemingway’s well known novels have been written in and inspired by various parts of the world. Giorgio De Chirico’s paintings on the other hand were a reflection of his early childhood experiences, some believe. When he lived in Paris in the 1910’s he painted a series of paintings that featured empty town squares that are thought to be inspired by his childhood in Greece. Nowadays, because traveling has become so convenient, we are seeing the rise of Art Residency programmes abroad. Art Residencies have become immensely popular over the past couple of years, and they offer an alternative to immigration when artists are looking for a brief escape to explore ulterior, unfamiliar landscapes and spaces away from their country of origin.


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Part 3

Would you say that living outside of Malta affects the kind of creative work that you do?

Yes No % % 92 8


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 3

In this part of the study I wanted to explore how Maltese creatives have seen their work change when they lived abroad or spent time abroad, and whether their changing identity had any effect on the work and in their personal artistic growth. “Design has a different identity depending on the country,” maintains Marco Scerri, a Glasgow-based Graphic Design Lecturer and practising Graphic Designer. He says that British and Scottish design have their own particular values, and that although his work has inevitably been influenced by these characteristics, in the past couple of years he’s been looking more towards values closer to home, to shape his design approach. “I don’t think Maltese design has identifiable characteristics. There seems to be no documented Maltese design history, so I can’t compare myself to that. Recent years have seen an increased interest in the development of Maltese design and I would be very keen for my work to contribute to that story – it’s an exciting prospect, as design in Malta feels like an uncharted territory.” (Marco Scerri, Face-to-face Interview, 2018). Marco also feels that since he has been living in Glasgow, he has become more self-aware of his national identity due to a friction he sees between British and Mediterranean cultures – he doesn’t identify himself as a Maltese national, but more as an individual with Mediterranean heritage. He states that in recent times, he feels ideas informing his work have shifted closer to the Mediterranean, rather than Malta, specifically. Justine Ellul, a photographer based in Malta who spent 4 months doing creative work in Iceland, expresses that living for a brief period in Iceland taught her how to enjoy her alone time indoors. She says that as Iceland is a quiet country with little clubs or hangout spots, she was left with plenty of time to work and enjoy nature, which has in turn inspired and created a new direction for her photography art practice. “It was an experience I needed for growth, independence and inspiration. Living in a different environment helps one in many ways and it has definitely helped me to understand what I like and dislike, not only artistic wise but also as a lifestyle.” (Justine Ellul, Email interview, 2018). Justine feels that now that she is back in Malta, her experience in Iceland has changed the way she works and the subjects that she works with. She states that seeing new places is what she calls “a kind of physical research”. Daniela Attard says that since moving to London, she has become more disciplined and productive in her personal creative work. She also explains that she is working on a series of self-portraits to explore what she calls her “weird identity crisis”, while Alexandra’s work has changed from being Maltainspired to become more feminist since her moved to Berlin. “My present work references pop culture and reflects my identity as a girl rather than my identity as a Maltese person,” (Alexandra Aquilina, Video-Call Interview, 2018).

“The time and the environment that you’re in changes your work. In Malta I used to get more inspired because I was outdoors more of the time, but at the same time, I can see a transition in my creative work from past work because I have developed new knowledge.” (Michael Quinton, Video-call Interview, 2018). Other participants expressed that their environment is often reflected in the colours, shapes and textures they use in their work. Claudia’s identity is reflected in the colours that she uses in her work, where she uses vibrant colours that remind her of Malta. Flavio Bezzina, a Maltese artist who lived in Sweden for a year was inspired by the country’s dark forests, myths and folklore which translated into his work via the use of cold colours and grotesque figures. Inez Baldacchino expresses that she is looking forward to channeling elements of Malta into her animation work, such as themes of sunshine, sea, salt and warmth. Louise Aquilina says that social, cultural and political situations feed creativity and without these influences, creative work becomes superficial and flat. She states that the more an artist is exposed to different situations and cultures, the richer his/her “food” is and the quality of this food dictates the quality of the reaction. “I believe moving away broadened my accessibility to certain situations. Being abroad put me in touch with many individuals and opportunities to aid the progression of my creative career. Being a designer based in London enhances you with a sort of credibility that gets you noticed in places. I was marketed as part of a ‘Brits Abroad’ scheme after my MA which got me into the Berlin fashion scene, and the Berlin scene contacts got me sponsored to take my work to Pitti in Florence, which got me some good press and contacts of great value.” (Louise Aquilina, Email Interview, 2018). Louise continues to say that being exposed to different cultures and people instilled in her a respect for diversity, which she feels was absolutely vital for her development and maturity. Although she mentioned that she was exposed to a multicultural attitude from childhood, she feels that living abroad added a further “layer” to her adaptation skills. Nicole Sciberras also saw new layers emerging when living abroad, and these layers gave her the liberty and independence to do more of what she liked and to build her personality around them. She feels that when she lived in Malta she was kept busy with things that she didn’t necessarily enjoy doing or felt passionate for, and by living abroad she has enriched her personality.


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 4

Part 4: Multidimensional identity in creative Maltese nationals abroad According to Akhtar(1995), these lines (opposite) from the poem The Immigrant Jew by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, capture the essence of “psychic fracturing” that immigrants tend to experience in their move from one place to another. He explains that the immigrant can be caught between the past and the present, thereby going through a “temporal discontinuity in the self-experience”. Akhtar(1995) explains that this emergence of a “hybrid identity” is a result of a mixture of culture shock and a mourning over loss. In this study I refer to this “hybrid identity” as a multidimensional identity. Some participants refer to it as added “layers” of identity. The idea of a multidimensional identity is that a person creates several different versions of themselves according to places he/she visits, people he/she meets and cultures he/she accustoms his/herself to. There are of course links between these identities, especially when a person migrates to a country that has historical ties to his/ her country of origin, but even if this is not the case, humans tend to look for similarities in the unrelated. This is why these “layers” become different “dimensions” of one whole identity, stemming from the same source, but going in different directions. Dr. Debono gave me an example of how someone can adopt a multiple identity according to particular circumstances. She refers to a person who left Mali and who had

a very difficult journey to Europe. She explains that this person now holds a very successful position in Europe. He has not only adapted, but he has done his best to immerse himself within the culture without ignoring aspects of his past experience when he represents himself. “Identity is very much linked to the representation of oneself. When he speaks to me, he’s very careful to not project himself as an African, he presents himself as a successful European. I’ve seen him with his African friends, and there even his body language changes a lot, so there’s also this idea that identity is fluid and is not fixed. It can change during a lifetime intentionally or not, but also you can have multiple identities at the same time.” (Dr.Daniela Debono, Video-call Interview, 2018). Francois Cheng, as quoted by Akhtar(1995) in A Third Individualisation: Immigration, Identity and the Psychoanalytic Process describes this circumstance quite eloquently, “...the immigrant lives in two linguistic worlds, pronouncing his own name in two different ways, and switching with relief to his mother tongue once the workday is over. However, such aching polyglottism adds to the splitting of selfrepresentations.” (Francois Cheng, 1985, as quoted by Akthar, 1995).


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 4

“I am two. One looks back, the other turns to the sea. The nape of my neck seethes with good-byes and my breast with yearning.”


Creative Maltese in Parallel Âť Part 4

Would you say that living in different countries/places has added multiple dimensions/layers to your identity?

Yes No % % 89 11


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Part 4

Marco Scerri explains that in a creative context, it’s similar to having two different languages. A creative immigrant usually has to think twice about how to respond to a creative problem, because of the presence of a “dual dimension” and different channels of thinking. Marco states that from a creative point of view, he finds these added dimensions very useful. He says that he needs to readjust his ways of thinking whenever he travels from Scotland to Malta and vice versa,... “but then there’s always a central point” he continues, referring to Freud’s three pysche components (the Id, Ego and Superego) and adding that in the end it is these agencies that form our way of being and thinking. “In this multidimensionality, you have different entities that cause friction between them, and that friction creates new viewpoints on home, on foreign lands. That friction informs my work in an interesting way, and it’s one of the things I appreciate most on a cultural and personal level because it gives me different outlooks and perspectives. I can only see it as being positive.“ (Marco Scerri, Face-to-face interview, 2018). “Is there even any personality left once you remove those layers?” asks Stephanie Scicluna. Stephanie feels that these multiple layers are not just a product of living in different countries but also a result of growing up. She states that growing up in Malta she felt she was very limited in experiences and opportunities for personal creative growth, and by living in different places, she was forced to step outside of her comfort zone and develop parts of her identity that she was never aware of. “I am who I am today because of the places I’ve been and people I’ve met. None of which would have been possible in Malta.” (Stephanie Scicluna, Email Interview, 2018). Michael Quinton feels that these multiple dimensions of an identity are definitely a positive and that he aspires to have such an identity. Michael explains that he doesn’t like to be stuck in a particular frame of mind or with a particular identity, and he is always questioning why he believes in certain things. Michael believes that a person develops when they add “multilayers” and he finds they are essential particularly in people who live in more than one country. “The longer you stay in a place, the longer you start seeing similarities between different places. They have a tendency to merge. Perhaps people have distinct attitudes based on which countries you’re living in. The longer you stay in a place, the longer it starts feeling like the previous place or the place before that.” (Fabrizio Mifsud Solder, Video-call Interview, 2018).

Claudia Baldacchino feels that the multiple dimensions of her identity “mix well” and “intertwine”. She refers to aspects of being loud that she links to her Malteseness, but attributes her shyness to her English side. Not all participants linked their multidimensional identity to the experience of living in different countries. Inez Baldacchino says that the multiple layers of identity had always been present in her life, but she puts that down to the fact that her mother is not Maltese, and that she could speak Norwegian from a young age. She says that she looks more Norwegian than Maltese, and having lived in Malta for most of her life, this has always presented her with a “kind of duality”, therefore she never really fitted in with the ideas of what the Maltese person is meant to be like. Marietta Mifsud, a Brighton-based designer, feels that multiple layers are added to a person throughout their life, no matter the country that they live in, whereas Daniela states that she has lived through certain experiences that have shaped her, that she would not have been through in Malta. She adds that she takes bits of experiences from her layers of identity and applies this to her work as well. “Time is not a causal factor of change of identity only. In a specific time and space, you can have multiple identities in the same cities depending on the group you’re with. Integration or adapting to a culture doesn’t mean removing your past experience, it can mean tapping into different parts of yourself in order to fit with different groups.” (Dr. Daniela Debono, Video-call Interview, 2018). “It was not simply owing to the stressful circumstances attending the emigration that I became newly creative. It was rather that, with the stress came new vistas, new curiosity, new opportunities, and vital new sources of collegiate support.” (Mahler in Stepansky, 1988, p.1211 as quoted by Akhtar, 1995).


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Conclusion


Does the Maltese creative need to travel or live abroad to grow creatively and enhance his/her identity, or is the fact that the Maltese creative scene is still “uncharted” as Marco Scerri calls it, exciting in itself that Maltese creatives should stay and exploit it to its full potential? Lisa Gwen Baldacchino feels that Malta is going through a very strange and difficult period in its history. “Some people want to fight and be part of that change, other people would prefer to distance themselves” she adds. She attributes this to a number of different things on a lot of different levels. Lisa thinks that a sense of escapism plays a role and that people want to reinvent themselves, they want new challenges and Malta can be very limiting. “You can take that as a challenge in itself, or you can decide to play with the big guns. The challenge here can be too much. I’ve tried that challenge for a number of years now and I realise that some things I’ve managed to do, but some things where I really wanted to affect change – it’s been near impossible, so I get that, this disappearing.” (Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Video-call Interview, 2018). Lisa states that despite this, and even though creatives can be critical of Malta, they tend to refer back to it in their work because they feel an “incredible sense of nostalgia” and a “pull”. She puts their frustration down to the framework of the country and the way that it’s governed, but she still sees a great potential in the island. Lisa feels that at the present time there doesn’t seem to be a balance between this lack of structure and the potential of the island, but she is positive that it will happen eventually. “You leave because of structure and yet the charm, the colour, the people, the general warmth is what keeps you there and what keeps you coming back and what keeps you missing it.” (Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Videocall Interview, 2018). Marco Scerri agrees that the creative sector in Malta is still not well established and requires a more solid support structure to aid its development. Because of this reason, he feels that Maltese creatives need to travel to push their practice. There is an absence of contemporary art and design museums and archives in Malta, Marco adds, whereas in other countries these would be easily available and accessible. “An experience of external creative sectors is vital for the development of Malta’s creative climate”. Marco accepts that were he not living in Scotland, he would not have embarked on his present project, where he is looking to archive the works of his grandfather who was a graphic designer in Malta between the 1950s and 1970s.


Creative Maltese in Parallel » Conclusion

“I’ve developed an interest in exploring archives, by responding creatively to them” he continues. Marco gives examples of residencies for artists and designers within different archives across the UK. “After I’ve seen how these approaches are being applied here in the UK, I’ve been thinking of ways in which such creatives practices could be utilised in the exploration of our rich archived collections back home.” Whenever he goes to Malta, Marco says that he feels more confident and enthusiastic to use the tools he acquired in Scotland, in Malta. Marco refers back to the Maltese and Mediterranean cultures, which have been formed largely by trade and exchange throughout the years. He states that Malta, due to its history and geographic position, is perfectly placed to appreciate the multidimensional development of a culture through the acceptance of external influences. “I consider it useful and positive for any creative individual to experience a foreign cultural identity, before they establish their position and practice within their native cultural identity. (Marco Scerri, face-to-face interview, 2018). Most participants seem to agree that the Maltese are quite a unique bunch, but who are unfortunately, largely unaware or unappreciative of their multicultural history and diverse genetic-make-up. This seems to result in many Maltese, including Maltese creatives, to constantly compare themselves to foreigners, and largely feeling that they are somehow inferior. It is predominantly when we are away from Malta for a period of time that we start to see the “charm” of Malta. Perhaps this is because we are not directly experiencing the structure and political system, so we can more accurately access our identity without being self-critical, and allow ourselves to add further dimensions to it, to keep building onto it. A few months ago I was having lunch with my husband on a communal table at a restaurant in Edinburgh. There was an Italian couple to the right of us, and a Scottish one to the left. I soon came to a realisation that even though we could understand the languages of both of these couples, they could not understand us. I felt this was truly a privileged position to be in, and it is something that we share with other Mediterranean citizens, such as the Cypriots, who have a similar mixture of Eastern and Western influence in their culture and gene pool. In The Return: A Father’s Disappearance, a Journey Home, an article from the New Yorker, Hisham Matar(2013) writes that his move from Libya to New York rewarded him with a “skill” that he worked hard to cultivate, “ to live away from places and people I love”, and he felt that were he to return to Libya even briefly, would rob him of that skill. He refers to Joseph Brodsky, Nabokov and Conrad, as artists who never returned to their countries in order to “cure” themselves of it. “But Dmitri Shostakovich and Boris Pasternak and Naguib Mahfouz were also right; never leave the homeland. Leave and your connections to the source will be severed. You will be like a dead trunk, hard and hollow.” (Matar, 2013). “What do you do when you cannot leave and cannot return?” he asks. Indeed the hardest question for participants to answer was one that asked whether they would eventually return to Malta. While some said they would, others said they feel they cannot go back, with most experiencing a deep inner conflict.

Moving and living abroad is still associated with a sense of growth, particularly creative growth because many feel we’re still lacking behind in Malta’s cultural sector. As much as the Maltese creative tends to miss Malta, they are often fearful that going back would deprive them of the artistic and culturally diverse ‘food’ they have accustomed themselves to, particularly those living in developed cities. “Being away heightens the feeling of home” Marco Scerri explains. When we move away from our country of origin, we come to realise what we have lost, but also what we have gained. The Maltese creative tends to feel relieved when they settle in a country that has a better cultural infrastructure, but soon realises that the imperfections of Malta are what make it such an intriguing subject, with a myriad of possibilities to explore. Having discovered new dimensions to their identity and having stepped out of the small island bubble, is when the Maltese creative usually understands their Maltese identity and often works this Malteseness it into his/her artistic projects.

References Abulafia, D. (2011). The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean. Reprint edition. Allen Lane. Akhtar, S. (1995). A Third Individuation: Immigration, Identity and the Psychoanalytic Process. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, [online] Volume 43(4). Available at: http://journals.sagepub. com/doi/10.1177/000306519504300406 [Accessed 1 May. 2018]. Dench, G. (1975). Maltese in London. Routledge & Kegan Paul PLC. Matar, H. (2013). The Return: A Father’s Disappearance, A Journey Home. The New Yorker, [online]. Available at: magazine/2013/04/08/the-return-8 [Accessed 15 April. 2018].


Creative Maltese in Parallel

I wish to thank various people for their contribution to this project; Dr. Daniela Debono for her expertise and assistance on the subject of immigration, Ms. Lisa Gwen Baldacchino for her valuable contribution on contemporary Maltese art and culture, and Mr. Marco Scerri for his professional contribution as a Graphic Design Lecturer, a Maltese Communication Designer in the UK, his beautiful design work on this publication and overall support and constructive recommendations throughout this project. I would also like to offer my gratitude to all online survey respondents and interview participants, without whom, this practice-based research project would not have been possible; Ahmed Yata, Attard Daniela, Aquilina Alexandra, Aquilina Christopher, Aquilina Louise, Baldacchino Claudia, Baldacchino Inez, Bezzina Flavio, Ellul Justine, Mifsud Marietta, Mifsud Soler Fabrizio, Scerri Dale, Sciberras Debono Nicole, Scicluna Stephanie, Quinton Michael, as well as participants who wished to remain anonymous.

Published in 2018, by Moira Scicluna Zahra Š 2018, Moira Scicluna Zahra Text & Illustrations | Moira Scicluna Zahra Design | Marco Scerri Printing | Newspaper Club Edition of 20 All rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the authors.

This project is supported by Arts Council Malta – Malta Arts Fund

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