Sliema street art raises awareness on domestic violence support

Sliema Memorial Benches, by artist Jarek Nalewajk.

No fewer than 14 artists have left their mark on the benches along Tower Road, Sliema, in a collaborative project, Memorial Benches – Faces of Resilience, which was unveiled on May 24.

The impactful project, organised by the Eastern Regional Council, which is the Region of Culture 2024, was done in collaboration with the Sliema Local Council and the Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence which forms part of the Parliamentary Secretariat for Equality and Reforms in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Led by artistic director of the Sliema Arts Festival, James Micallef Grimaud, this initiative is aimed at honouring the lives of women lost to violence in Malta and has transformed these benches into vibrant street art.

Over the past few weeks, Micallef Grimaud conducted a series of workshops, both indoors and outdoors, in which artists and community members came together to paint and prime the benches, creating spaces that inspire reflection and awareness.

“This initiative is a significant part of our cultural calendar for 2024,” said Anthony Chircop, President of the Eastern Regional Council. “It reflects our commitment to using art as a medium for social change and community engagement.”

According to Micallef Grimaud: “Through this project, we sought not only to commemorate the lives of these women but also to spark conversations about violence and resilience within our community. The benches, now colourful memorials, stand as symbols of peace, love and empathy.”

The artists who participated in this project were selected following a rigorous open call for applications on March 7, which attracted numerous talented individuals eager to contribute to this meaningful cause. Each artist brought their unique vision and skill to the project, working harmoniously under the guidance of Micallef Grimaud.

The artists are Jack Stewart, Kristina Znakina Andonova, Saima Murtaza, Yuexin Kong, Hun Sun, Andrea Farrugia, John Schembri, Jarek Nalewajk, Aurora Invonne Mario, Matas Statulevicius, Jackie Fritz, Marilouis Guy, Sophia Guy and Rhys John Meredith. ‘Memorial Benches – Faces of Resilience’ is a prelude to the upcoming Sliema Arts Festival, being held from 19 to 21 July 2024. Throughout 2024, the Eastern Region is holding a diverse array of events and activities, including art exhibitions, outreach programmes, and performances that showcase the region’s unique cultural identity.

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