The Malta Society of Arts is hosting two compelling new exhibitions at Palazzo de La Salle in Valletta. The upper galleries will welcome the works by artists Ruth Ancilleri and Sarah Maria Scicluna as part of Documents of Inheritance / Poetics of Desire, while a relatively new, exciting space – the Basement Vaults – will host clay works by Ioulia Chante, known as Babau Ceramics, as part of What’s Bugging You? 

Documents of Inheritance/Poetics of Desire investigates how wild plants and weeds can be seen as inherited heirlooms from nature and become a symbol of our desire or yearning to go back to our more natural roots. The exhibition consists of 23 works by Sarah Maria Scicluna, who works mainly in silk screen printing and drawing through a digital approach, and 20 pencil drawings printed on transparent film and organza fabric by Ruth Ancilleri. 

Scicluna explains that her starting point was researching endemic flora found in Malta growing wildly in urban areas: “I took long walks and observed what is growing around and in the pavement,” she explains. “I started to document these wild plants through photography, video and 3D scanning. These images were later broken down digitally, formed into compositions and translated into line work drawings, which were later plotted with a pen plotter.” Ancilleri, on the other hand, used a system where she transferred pencil drawings of these plants onto several transparent layers of paper or fabric, which she later merged into one artwork. 

In Documents of Inheritance/Poetics of Desire, curator Carmen Aquilina invites viewers to contemplate the delicate interplay between fragility and resilience in the natural world, questioning our place within it. “The exhibition serves as a timely reminder to slow down and heighten our awareness of our surroundings,” she remarks.

The second exhibition to open at the Malta Society of Arts will feature 30 clay and ceramic pieces; a combination of sculptural and functional items, but also more conceptual ones that can still fit in a domestic setting. The artist Ioulia Chante, also known as Babau Ceramics, explains that this series of objects are very personal for her: “These pieces resemble fragments of the most intimate and darkest moments I have experienced,” notes Chante. “What’s Bugging You? presents the rawest, most vulnerable, and primitive emotions of human nature and the human psyche, as experienced by people on a day-to-day basis. This is why I attempted to create a familiar and safe setting of a home/living space that could fit the unique features of the Basement Vaults within the Malta Society of Arts.”

Working from her home studio, Chante creates most of her works on the wheel. “I like the process of it. It is a very grounding and relaxing process which fills me with a lot of clarity and peace. Sculpting too, although it demands much more attention and thinking,” she confides. 

“After I finish a piece on the wheel, I try to sketch out a form and interpret it into a monster of sorts. A detailed exploration of a fear or stressful thought that seeks to find release. In a world increasingly plagued by mental discomfort, my work strives to offer solace and provoke introspection, transforming everyday objects into conduits for critical thinking and communication,” concludes Chante.

Malta Society of Arts’ President Arch. Adrian Mamo is looking forward to the new exhibitions: “We are delighted to present these compelling exhibitions that bring to light different aspects of our interaction with nature and our inner selves,” he says. “The works of Ruth Ancilleri, Sarah Maria Scicluna, and Ioulia Chante challenge us to reflect on our surroundings and our emotions. We encourage the public to visit Palazzo de La Salle and engage with these thought-provoking pieces.”

Documents of Inheritance/Poetics of Desire by Ruth Ancilleri and Sarah Maria Scicluna and What’s Bugging You? by Ioulia Chante open officially on 30 May and 31 May 2024, respectively. Admission is free. For opening hours and further details, visit or