Anna Calleja is a 22-year-old Maltese multi-disciplinary artist working in paint, print and sculpture.
Calleja’s work is a bridge to home, revolving around her family and thoughts about Malta. Her current body of work explores melancholy in the domestic space, using the process of painting to create quiet moments of introspection.
When and how did you get started?
Ever since I was a child, my passion has been drawing and painting. After studying many other subjects: including History, English and the three sciences and later working as an EFL teacher, I found myself drawn back to art. In 2015, whilst I was studying Biology and Chemistry with the aim of studying Medicine, I went on a course at Central St. Martins and made friends with many aspiring artists. Upon returning to Malta, I realised I had to give myself the chance to be an artist or I would forever ask the age-old question: what if?
I began selling commissions and decided to study Art. I studied Fine Art at MCAST and moved to the UK to study Fine Art at Falmouth University. I am currently in my final year and will be moving back to Malta in July once I graduate and when borders open! I’ve been taking portraiture commissions since I was 17 and am now exhibiting and selling my own work
What genre do you consider your work to be?
My practice is multidisciplinary, working in paint, print, and sculpture.
Describe your work in 10 words or less.
A bridge to home; exploring melancholy in the domestic space.
Where was your first exhibition held?
My first collective was Sculptural Installation for Limbo, Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta, Malta in 2016, and I have participated in many collectives since. I have exhibited in four exhibitions in Cornwall including a joint show with Will Calver in the historic Porthmeor Studio and a group show in Tate St. Ives. I recently exhibited in a group show in Malta at the Wignacourt Museum and am working towards three shows in the UK and a solo show at the Malta Society of Arts next March.
Do you have a favourite from among your own artworks? If so, why?
My current favourite is ‘Peaceful Melancholy’, a painting of myself lying on my bed in Falmouth. It’s hard to put into words how it makes me feel, and that’s why I like it. Rather than a nude woman on a bed, it is a passive clothed woman, it’s private. It captures the feeling of wanting to lay down and be quiet for a little bit. Like a happy-sad song. To do nothing when the world tells you to do more.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a few paintings around melancholy in the domestic space, looking at the home as a place of curated identity, history and conversation.
Which artist’s work are you most inspired by?
Currently Edouard Vuillard
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I’m interested in so many other subjects including History, English, Politics, Sociology and Sciences. I honestly can’t say.
What is the epitome of happiness for you?
Cosy days with loved ones.
Favourite colour and what it means to you?
This changes with the seasons – currently warm grey.
What is your favourite indulgence?
Sitting in bed, knitting, drinking tea, eating Minstrels and listening to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials all at once.