Young artist Anna Calleja will be putting up a solo exhibition consisting of paintings and prints made over the past year at the Art Galleries of the Malta Society of Arts (MSA) in Valletta from the 4 to the 25 of March. Titled Homebound, this will be Calleja’s first solo show, as well as her debut on the Maltese art scene after reading for a BA in Fine Art at Falmouth University in Cornwall for three years.
For Calleja, the idea for this solo exhibition developed long before the pandemic. However, some of the themes that she explores throughout her body of work – like comfort, melancholy, belonging and the familiar – were all made even more poignant by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The notion of being ‘homebound’ holds a layered meaning: a return home, but also, being confined to the home; a place that has become both our haven and our cage. “This body of work utilises the domestic space as a stage to play out ideas,” says Calleja. “While the work is autobiographical, recurring themes run throughout the work – from the personal to the political. One such motif is sleep. I use sleep as a metaphor to reflect on our time. It is an escape and an in-between passive state. While the world grows ever more turbulent, divisive and moves steadily towards climate crises, we sleep on.”
Calleja draws inspiration from a variety of sources – art, literature, music and current affairs. She looks to artists she admires and references historical tropes in figurative painting. She draws on her own notions of comfort such as childhood fairy tales, cursed sleep, lost shoes and misted mirrors, as well as the certainty of domestic happy-ever-afters.
The pandemic is, understandably, inspiring artists worldwide to use the extra time that they suddenly found on their hands during lockdown to create. The MSA’s previous exhibition in January – Madeleine Gera’s Twilight – also presented works inspired directly by the surreal events of the past year. Last March, Calleja was forced to pack up all her belongings and take a homebound flight to Malta. She then had to spend two weeks in mandatory quarantine where she painted Alone in Quarantine, a work which captures the artist’s claustrophobia and the brewing unease she felt while in quarantine.
Malta Society of Arts’ President Adrian Mamo comments that it is important for artists to express what the rest of us are experiencing through the work they create in times like these: “Visitors who come to see the exhibition will relate to the rawness and honesty of Anna’s works as they explore the soft textures of home, the contemplative feelings evoked by confinement, and the little things that mark our daily domestic life. We’re looking forward to having Anna’s works adorning the walls of our Art Galleries,” adds Arch. Mamo.
Homebound by Anna Calleja will be showing from 4-25 March 2021 at the Art Galleries of the Malta Society of Arts in Valletta. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am-7pm, and Saturdays 9am-1.30pm, closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Entrance is free subject to COVID-19 safety measures. For more information please visit www.annacalleja.co.uk, www.artsmalta.org/events or www.facebook.com/maltasocietyofarts. ‘Homebound’ is sponsored by APS bank, the main sponsor of the exhibition, Deloitte, Atlas Insurance and Fenech Farrugia Fiott legal.