Artist Etienne Farrell is holding an exhibition entitled Ħamsin. The exhibition will take place at an early 17th century Palazzo in Qrendi, which is currently undergoing renovation.
Ħamsin is a collection of 50 paintings, each representing and summing up a particular year from that when the artist was born, to the present year (1974 to 2024). “To me they appear magical, emanating a supernatural force. I attribute these qualities to the sincerity with which I approached the work. They are free from sensationalism, genuine and true to the memories that created them, however unreliable memories can be,” Farrell says, adding that the notion of memories’ inherent unreliability led to their representations in abstract forms.
She describes how the work shows how memory can be a slippery mechanism, sometimes vague, with pockets of uncertainties in recollections. “It shows how recollections can be both elusive and intrusive and that we can rarely be completely sure of their faithfulness to the facts that it recalls. Memories are frail glimpses of the past; images and feelings that tease our present. They are but a nostalgic realisation through which we can never fully relive the same exact experience.”
For Farrell, the timing of the production of this work is key. She talks about her awareness about having less time left than that which has already passed, making time perspective a central motivational dimension.
“As a young woman I used to perceive time ahead as open-ended. Today, as I understand that the future is finite, I am becoming more aware that death is no longer an abstract fact of life, but something that is very real,” she says.
Thus, Ħamsin explores the centrality of time’s passage to human consciousness. It represents the fundamental factuality that each of us exists day by day, with the specificity of our own individual life’s passage, which will, one day, inevitably come to an end.
“Time allows us to increase the number of memories, and time causes some memories to become broken, dispersed, and perhaps unreliable. Memory and time go hand in hand in dealing with personal history. Each of us has their own way of understanding history and some memories would serve us better if they remained repressed. Memory is inherently selective and it has a proven tendency to rework original facts in ways that agree with the wishes and values of the person remembering. The work is thus, very subjective. It forms an environment which evokes thoughts about death, mourning, the loss of memory and puts an emphasis on our inability to genuinely recall our past, since memory interweaves truth and inaccuracies,” Farrell adds.
Ħamsin runs from February 18 to 25 at the Qrendi Centre.