“ A Common Thread in Waves of Colour” is a mural art project by Right 2 Smile in collaboration with local councils (Hal Safi, Birzebbuga, Hal Kirkop and Marsaxlokk) and Families for Lifelong Learning (NGO) funded by Creative Communities Fund of the Malta Arts Council. The concept behind the project is that each community is unique, with individual traits that give it its unique identity. What makes Marsaxlokk different to Hal Safi, and Birzebbuga different Hal Kirkop? Yet, we all have a common thread that ties us all together despite our differences and that is our humanity.
These four localities were chosen in the south of Malta, upon advise from community workers working in the areas. Our local villages are full of character, with their own traditions, heritage and culture. As we started working on the project, we learnt so much about each chosen community. Hal Kirkop is known for ricotta while Marsaxlokk’s fishing village is still very alive and strong. Birzebbuga and Marsaxlokk both celebrate multi-culturalism and Safi has a strong close-knit family feel with many locals knowing each other well.
Youths from each locality created a mural in a communal space in their locality. The mural represents their community, as they view it. While all four murals are different, they have a common thread throughout each that ties them all together. We were uncertain at first how we would represent this ‘common thread’ in each mural. Yet, after our first mural in Marsaxlokk it became clear that the common thread would be the string of positive, affirming words chosen by the youths themselves.
The project is based around working with youths in their community, aged 11-15. Youths from each locality were found through the help of local councils who outreached with local youth groups in their community. Youths are at the developmental age were they are forming their own identity including how they fit into their community. Youths are also at the ideal age to contribute their budding artistic skills to a mural art project. At first, some youths were hesitant, wondering what artistic skills were required however we re-assured them that our lead artist Kirsty and volunteers will be helping them along.
Denise (community worker), myself and Kirsty first met with youths during a preparation workshop in April 2016. During this workshop, we discussed and played games with youths about the topic of community identity, diversity and what makes us the same. The youths created crafts representing their community and worked on a ‘mood board’ – inspiration for the mural content. The workshop allowed youth’s to be actively involved in the mural they would later depict while informing artist Kirsty’s planning for the mural composition.
We then had implementation weekends for each mural, spanning over July and August 2016. Volunteer artists were an important part of the project. Their help was indispensable. Volunteers patiently painted outdoors, in the heat, supported youths and kept up a jolly atmosphere throughout. Their input helped us finish the murals in a timely manner, which we appreciated particularly when the summer heat got too much!
We had our end of project celebration in September were we inagurated each mural and brought all youth participants together to view each other’s murals. Each youth was given a certificate of participation. We hope that each mural will leave a positive legacy in the respective communities and a ripple effect forms, starting from youths, to their families, community members and visitors.
We thank all supporters, volunteers, lead artist Kirsty Vella, partners Denise Farrugia, local councils, youths and their parents for being part of this project. We also thank the funding body Malta Arts Council for the opportunity they have given us and many others to hold creative and artistic community-based projects.