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MONEY met with the team behind STJ Canvas, a project set up to beautify the island’s hustling tourist destination and motivate people to start maintaining their third-party walls. 

Inspired by street art across Europe’s major cities, STJ Canvas’ aim was to create a space that encourages creativity. In an unprecedented move, the mural is centre stage in one of Malta’s prominent tourist sites, St Julian’s. Located on Forrest Street, the mural could become a key image in transforming Malta’s skyline.

“Having always loved St Julians and lived here since my youth, I wanted to give something back to Spinola. I’ve wanted to incorporate art into my surroundings for ages –  having been inspired by the endless street art found across Europe’s major cities. After much thought, I decided on a mural down the side of the building.” STJ Canvas founder

The competition

The founders launched a competition via their website,, to look for artists to put forward their vision. The remit was intrinsically local, preferably with a message, though they were given free rein to incorporate whatever inspired them. The prize – their artwork on the wall and remuneration.

The online presence

STJ Canvas provided artists with a simple and helpful method to download materials for the party wall, understand the inspiration, and submit their works to the committee through the website, developed by Growth Gurus. 

“Being particularly intrigued by the fusion of the physical and digital worlds, the vision was to create an online experience that would enable artists to digitally create art on the wall. The initial purpose of the website was to attract artists to submit their visions through the competition. This has evolved to be the online home of the STJ Canvas.” STJ Canvas Committee Member.

The winner

The STJ Canvas panel chose James Micallef Grimaud as the winner. “In this mural, I took a more naturalistic approach and used some of the most colourful migratory birds that visit Malta yearly. Some of the birds I’ve chosen have also been spotted in St Julian’s valley and Pembroke. The birds include the Grey Heron, Eurasian Roller, Bee-eater, Kingfisher, and Goldfinch. I used birds featured in art nouveau creations due to their stylistic and classical features. I laid out the birds in the mural to create a flow and balance through colour,” explains Grimaud. “I used around 500 cans, including varnishes, and spent around 300 hours on it.”

“The juxtaposition of these birds with the modern development around the area will create a balance between nature and artificial structures through an artistic context. The pattern used in the background is reminiscent of the Maltese tiles and is a classic illusion.”

“I used a grid technique to create the mural due to the proximity to the wall while painting on the scaffolding and the problematic nature of climbing down ladders and walking to a certain vantage point every time I’d need to see the wall from a distance,” Grimaud concludes.

Originally Published on MONEY (Issue 73)