The Sliema arts festival began on Friday 18th July at 5 p.m. Approaching the swings of Exiles and all along the Sliema front, I could witness an array of vendors, food stalls, 3D artwork on the promenade and various stalls which sold tidbits of clothing, jewellery, and accessories. One could either access the arts festival via the Sliema front or through the Sliema gardens along the coast. Approaching the festival, one could hear music booming from all around the area. A kaleidoscope of colours and people fluttered around which enmeshed the creative and organic atmosphere that was composed to entertain and inspire the public.
I experienced different types of music from two different stages set in the area. The Alternative stage parallel to Surfside on the Exiles beach provided a number of live acts, DJs, local and growing bands, local and foreign street artists silently tapping away with their spray cans on old caravans and walls amongst the tunes of the bands and the fresh sea breeze. Bands such as Juno and the Wolf, Three Stops to China and for strings inn performed that night alongside Hedon Crew which provided the Dj set. The atmosphere epitomized summertime madness. Amongst the Maltese summer heat, people of all ages gathered to dance along to the music and absorb the musical vibes. Some freely danced, others met up with friends and enjoyed a cool beer on the beach. Children could be seen running around and on the strand. Groups of English students, the Sliema strand runners and the bench bummers seemed to stir amongst all the excitement. Restaurants, creperies, and ice-cream shops seemed booming with people wanting a tasty treat amongst the free entertainment.
It also included local film screenings, skateboarding, abseiling, and an array of activities. Open to the public, the festival was dispersed across quite a large area which met a variety of different needs for all age groups. Families enjoyed taking their children to the new and updated swings whilst enjoying the food and entertainment at the same time. For the health foodies there were organic food stalls and wheatgrass juice stands all around the front.
The open air art exhibitions included work of a variety of both local and foreign artists who could also be seen sketching away at times. The art itself was left open to interpretation and individual perception, though some works of art were actually stolen by the public when left on display as they were temporarily unattended. Different styles were displayed by many artists. On one side, one could see impressionistic landscape designs, on the other modern Picasso-inspired art together with a number of complex and also simplistic individual designs. Interesting sculptures seemed to float amongst the canvases and splashes of art which gave the exhibition its own unique character. Many works of art were on sale and provided information regarding their portfolios, style and collaborations.
Many photographers could be seen flitting about snapping up pictures of the murals and street art displayed on benches, phone boxes and even the floor itself!
On Saturday, the events started at 2 p.m and singers and bands such as Alex Alden, Errormantics, Massacre House Party and Areola Treat performed alongside Dj sets such as those of Hedon Crew and Laavemuax. The artwork seemed to thin out in size on Saturday and on the other main stage a number of folk bands played medieval tunes which encircled the playful atmosphere beside the playground roaring with kids playing in the summer breeze. On Sunday 20th, Mega Fun, Jane Doe, The Velts and Mana Tapu performed live together with Chris Radium Gedz D Incmode from FDM Crew Dj set.
All in all, the street arts festival is improving and encouraging local artists to display their art publicly which exposes them to the general public and potential buyers. Maltese bands are becoming more known in media circles and should be supported by the general public. In this way, upcoming artists and talented young musicians can expose themselves to a huge demographic sector of the Maltese public and tourists which are seeing a slice of our culture and heritage transposed in different art forms.