My recent artworks “Forward” (2020) and “We Are One” (2020) Conceptual Mixed Media

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Forward (2020) Sub Heading

“Forward” was created with the mind of facing uncertainty and still positively moving forward. The pandemic has tested people the ability to navigate in unknown situations and uncertainties. We are forced to adapt and make changes. It’s a great lesson. We learn about others and we learn about ourselves.

50x50x4 cm Mixed Media digital manipulated photograph printed on Fine Art Paper Mount on Wood with Acrylic Paint and gel medium.

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Conceptual Photography Art Mixed Media

We Are One (2020) Sub Heading

Humans and nature are never separated. We are one. We thrive with each other, and we live on each other. 

40x50x3 cm Mixed Media digital manipulated photograph Fine Art Paper Mount on Wood with Acrylic Paint and gel medium.

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Conceptual Photography Art Mixed Media

They are included in the collective exhibition:

Art Exhibition, Pandemic: Survival, Art and New Action 🖼

📅 1st to 17th December

⏰Monday – Friday, 09:00 – 19:00

35% of the proceeds will be going to support a research project through RIDT.

For private viewing, contact csr@maltaenterprise.com

Organised and curated by Pamela Baldacchino – Joséphine Vassallo Parnis – RIDT – University of Malta Research Trust

Awards: Sub Heading

Canon Pro Showcase Portrait Photography Exhibition

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At Canon Malta

I am super thrilled that my new works are now exhibiting at Canon Malta, Avantech in San Gwann. Thanks to their invitation so I have this opportunity to show my work after a very long time not able to have exhibitions. Thanks Grace for all the help and Keith for assisting the printing, using Canon pro-2000. The title of this exhibition is “40 Over 40 – The Art of Female Form”. It combines the photographs from my 40 over 40 campaign and my self-portraits.
Through this project and exhibition, we celebrate the strength, wisdom and beauty of women over 40. And more importantly, I hope “To change the way people see women over 40”.
The exhibition is on throughout the summer July-September 2021. Please visit and also have a look at Canon cameras and printers. I have Canon for over 17 years, I love my camera and it helps to create so many beautiful works for my clients and myself. Visit Canon Malta at Avantech, you might find something that inspire for your next photography adventure. 

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Conceptual Portrait The Hands (Part II)

conceptual portrait photography The Hands

These images from the series “The Hands” which was accredited Associateship Qualification at MIPP (Malta Institute of Professional Photography)


Statement of Intent:
This portrait series was created from 20 photo shoots with 20 selective models from different ethnicities in Europe with different skin tones. Each model was given the same outfit and the same instructions. The models were placed in a small, boxed and confined space. Metaphorically, it is the world we are living in. They were asked to think about the emotions such as stressed, depressed, worried, confused and anxious, and use their hands, arms and the face to express the emotions. They were given the opportunity in a place and time to freely express their own unique expressions. It’s to demonstrate individual human expression through different individual life experience and personality.

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“The Hands” #11
Model:Lucia Simonova

“We, as human beings, think that we’re thinking. Not true. Most of the time, we’re remembering. We’re re-living memories. We’re running familiar patterns and loops in our head. For happiness, for procrastination, for sadness. Fears, hopes, dreams, desires. We have loops for everything.” Quote from the book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant. 

I love this book. It reminds me our human nature and taught me to switch loops. There were times that a memory triggers the negative emotions, with this knowledge, I could switch it to a positive one.

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“The Hands” #12
Model:Brunella Bujeja

When we throw ourselves in the intense emotion and pain, our body pays the price. 
How can we learn to express our emotion in a better way? By practice it and to be kind to ourselves. We can’t change the situation but we can change the way we look at it.

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“The Hands” #13
Model:Sabrina Zammit Busuttil

How I create this series?

I chose only a few key elements and stuck with them. The lighting, the outfit and the instructions are all the same. The only difference is people, I used different models. I could use 1 model, 2 models or just 4 models to complete this project, so why 20? Because I know every human being is unique and the life experience is differ from one another. If I use more models, more variety of expression can be covered therefore the series can be easier to be related by the viewers. It was a real challenge to find 20 models with different background, age and nationality. But I’m lucky! In Malta, we have such a diverse community, it makes it easier to find the variety.

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“The Hands” #14
Model:Gaby Curmi Makeup by Yanika Tatyana Bonello

How we deal with difficult emotions? Like shame, grief, fear, disappear, disappointment.

When we numb our pain, we also numb our joy. by Brene Brown

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“The Hands” #15
Model:Victoria Pisani Makeup by Zoe Muscat

“Fighting fear doesn’t work. It just drags us in closer. One has to focus on what is real. On the truth. When in darkness, don’t fight it. You can’t win. Just find the nearest switch, turn on the light.” Quote from the book Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant.

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“The Hands” #16
Model:Olga Sunny Makeup by Moises Urena

Lean into discomfort instead of running away from the emotions which created by discomfort. When we numb the dark we also numb the light. From the book The gift of imperfection by Brene Brown.

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“The Hands” #17
Model:Gabriela Gherghel Makeup by Moises Urena

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“The Hands” #18
Model:Mandy Micallef Makeup by Zoe Muscat

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“The Hands” #19
Model:Aiden Makeup by @makeuphairby_honorine

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“The Hands” #20
Model:Nicole Schembri

The last image of the series, it was the last shoot of the series. By the time I had the shoot, I already had the idea what the panel would look like so it was easier to execute the shoot. Nicole is a professional dancer and dancers are known for their expressive body language, she did a great job here.

The Hands (Part I)

Conceptual portrait photography The Hands

This series was created because I wanted to create the images that show deep emotions. When people said “I’m fine” or “I’m ok”and appeared to be fine and ok but they are really not fine or ok. 
I said it because I didn’t want others to worry about me or I simply didn’t know how to explain or express myself. I have been there and many have been there as well. 
This series is about expressing how it might look like to be anxious, depressed, stressed and worried etc from the inside. If you see the images and you find it resonate with you in any way, find someone you can trust and talk to them about what is troubling you. 

Statement of Intent:
This portrait series was created from 20 photo shoots with 20 selective models from different ethnicities in Europe with different skin tones. Each model was given the same outfit and the same instructions. The models were placed in a small, boxed and confined space. Metaphorically, it is the world we are living in. They were asked to think about the emotions such as stressed, depressed, worried, confused and anxious, and use their hands, arms and the face to express the emotions. They were given the opportunity in a place and time to freely express their own unique expressions. It’s to demonstrate individual human expression through different individual life experience and personality.

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“The Hands” #1 Model:Christine Aquilina This is one of the 20 images from the series “The Hands” which was accredited Associateship Qalification at MIPP (Malta Institute of Professional Photography)
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“The Hands” #2
Model:Jade Bartolo

I think it can be extremely difficult for some people to express feelings and emotions. This series is all about bringing the emotions and feelings up to the front, to be brave enough to be seen.
I remember I was like that, I wasn’t good at express myself both in words and expressions. I didn’t talk much, not even with people who were close to me, I kept everything to myself. The worse of all, I found myself often express myself wrong in front of people. It can be humiliating when people made fun of me, so it got worse, I wasn’t good or brave to talk about how I feel. Now I found myself is pretty good at it because I can talk about my feelings all day all night to people that I trust until they tired of me. It was a huge learning curve for me, it was a growth, a gradual process, it was a huge breakthrough. 

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“The Hands” #3
Model:Dragana Popovic

This image has a hidden meaning, it was chose for this reason. The light source is from the left side and she blocks the light with her hand and turns away from it. It can be interpreted as “she doesn’t want to be seen”, “she doesn’t feel worthy”. ( Here I am not talking about the model herself, the subject is a metaphor of a female. )
Or she refuses to know or accept the truth. Sometimes we blind ourselves so we don’t need to change or face the changing. 
Change is hard but as human, we are always seeking for changes.

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“The Hands” #4 
Model:Amber Debono

This series is called “The Hands” because I wanted the models to use their hands to express the emotions. It was very difficult to do and even more difficult when culling the images. I have purposely broke many traditional portrait rules. It was scary to do so but I’m glad I did. I wanted to challenge the judges and the viewers. I wanted to know, “do you understand me?” It’s a communication through images, in silents while the emotions appeared to be so loud.
There is an motion in this image and I love that.

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“The Hands” #5
Model:Kelsey May Connor 

I used to think silence and indifferent are the worse ways to communicate until I heard my previous neighbour shouting at her husband from the balcony. (ok, I’m joking. )
When there is a problem in your relationships, how often would you choose to tolerate in silence? Turn away from the problem? It’s not easy to communicate emotions and feeling once it’s all built up. I learned it’s important to learn to communicate even the emotion is subtle.⠀

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“The Hands” #6
Model:Kristina Critien

We need to remain hopeful even it seems like a dark age we are going through. 
“She faces the light, accepts what’s coming and remain hopeful.” That’s how I would describe this image. I believe everyone see an image differently and it’s always an interesting study.

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“The Hands” #7
Model:Claudia Aiel

It was hard to cull the 20 images because it’s such a tight theme. They were risking to be judged as a series of repetition. It turned out that they are not, each individual image has so much rich emotion in it with different expression. I believe confinement can push art to develop further. I wouldn’t know what to do without some kind of restraint when creating images. Art has infinite expression after all, there is no limit. And it is the artist’s job to find the concise elements to express her/his art.

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“The Hands” #8
Model:Martina Galea

This series took me 6 years to complete. I was going to send it to another photography institution abroad for the panel judge. But I wasn’t qualified to enter because they have a rule that the images must be taken with in 24 months. “What kind of rule is that?” I said to myself. How long did it take for Leonardo da Vinci to create “The Last Supper”? How long did it take for Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel?

I believe the time spent should be accredited as a positive contribution to the art. Time helps the artist to form matured art. I had the idea but I wasn’t ready to form the series for some years, I had many doubts and fear. It took time to push through all that. 
Now I feel proud.

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“The Hands” #9
Model:Dahlia Mitrovic

What the emotion “anxiety” would look like?
Years ago, I was a person with huge amount of anxiety. I was constantly worry about every little things. So I know how it feels to have anxiety, it is a very dark place. 
I think it’s important to acknowledge the negative emotions. Even we can’t change it or solve it at that moment, acknowledge it, recognise it, talk about it, would be a good place to start the shift.

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“The Hands” #10
Model:Valerie Caruana

When I was shooting for this series, I put each and every model in a 3 walled boxed small space. The walls are made from polystyrene and I painted them black. It was done mainly for the lighting purpose, I wanted to create the dark, contrasty and moody look. Then the pandemic Covid-19 hit us, we got lock down in our own houses, it made me feel the connection of the lighting set up, it was more than just the lighting, it affected how the models felt. 
Everything is connected.

I See You

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This image ” I see you”, is part of the exhibition collection at Canon Malta, Avantech in San Gwann. In this image, I want to show the essence of the emotion and atmosphere is more, much more important than the clothing. There is only one piece of fabric wrapped around the waist, so basically, the clothing is not the major impact. In this image, it’s the look, the pose, the way she holds herself, and the way she looks, that is fearless. She was merely looking into you, into the viewers’ eyes. It’s something I love so much about the portrait, about a woman who is confident, assertive knowing what she does, she is not afraid of being looked at or watched. Instead, she would probably say, “what are you looking at” and that’s a very interesting conversation a portrait could have with the viewers. I think a good image is about thought provoking, evoke curiosity, lead to a conversation or simply an inspiration.
What do you see in this image?
This image has won a bronze award at The Portrait Masters in 2021.

EXIF:Camera:Canon 5D Mark II Lens:EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM Shutter speed:1/200, Aperture:F5.6, ISO:200 , Focal length: 60mm

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The Visible Personification of Absolute Perfection

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This is the one of the images I exhibit at Canon Malta, the title is “The Visible Personification of Absolute Perfection”, it is a self-portrait. I know what you are thinking, the body is not perfect like the title. I want to share a story with you, my personal story. From all these years I photograph women. Woman in all ages, all sizes and shapes. I asked majority of them one questions, one question before the photo shoot, “What parts of your body, you feel particularly conscious about, the parts you don’t like, it doesn’t matter where it is if you have anything, just tell me.” I would even make example. For example, loads of women will tell me they don’t like their arms, can I make them look slimmer. I would say,” Yes, of course, I can slim them down just by lighting and posing.” Some would say, “I don’t like my profile because my I don’t like my nose.” Some would tell me they don’t like their legs, they think they are too big or too skinny. And almost, almost everyone would say the tummy. Almost every single woman would tell me they don’t like to see their tummy sticking out. They are very conscious about it. Almost each and every one of them said that.

About ten years ago I was travelling a lot. I lived in Italy more than two years, during that time I travel around Italy a lot. The two particular place I love are Rome and Florence, both places have loads of nude statues and you can see all kinds of sizes and shapes of statues and that is just amazing. From my observation, they are the most gorgeous humanly like body figures. And I will say lots of them have a little bit of tummy. I feel that is something very natural, and that really fascinated me, how the artists would make these statues,

so humanly like. The most extraordinary part is because they are so humanly like.


That really fascinated me. Because if you really think of it, if an artist wants to draw a picture of Apollo she/he would want to draw something perfect, a perfect male figure shows the absolutely perfection, like, no human can ever achieve that perfection. But they made the statues like real people, that just fascinated me and they’re so stunning, beautiful and gorgeous. I just love watching the paintings and statues. The fascination gave me this idea of having this self portrait done. I do it for myself and the people who understand this.


I want to challenge majority of woman’s idea about what’s the perfection of a body? Is it what you think? What other people think? Or the fashion advertising beauty standard to decide it? Is it ok to show the tummy or not? I give a name with Perfection because I see myself as perfectly flawed. And I want to demonstrate to women, it is okay to have a little bit tummy, it is ok not to be perfect. My BMI is about 21, I’m considered having healthy weight. But it really doesn’t matter, I am I’m over 40, I have a little bit tummy and I have accepted it. It was a difficult self-acceptance because I was so used to the old me, the younger me, and I have came into turns of it. Through my work, I’ve seen a lot of women going through the phase that they don’t like their body, they hate their body and they want to hide. So it gives me a very strong idea I need to challenge this idea with my art, it’s like saying, “You can’t tell me what is beautiful, I decide it.” And why you think you have to be like someone else when you’re not. I want to challenge these ideas which most of us unaware of these ideas can be toxic. There will be people looking my images and think, “Oh gosh, she got a bit tummy showing, I wouldn’t want to show mine.” It will be interesting just to challenge the viewers, the people in my era. I love the image very much because it’s me, I show a part of my true self. Maybe it was the week I indulged myself and over eat a little but I don’t care, life is meant to be enjoyed. It’s just a part of me and I have other images showed that I’ve trained for months to get that body. I can be anything. And every woman is the same, they can be anything as long as they want it.

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The original print is available for purchase here.

Greeted, Michelangelo

Mock-up frame in living room with rope curtains and bouquet of b

5 years ago, a client reviewed my work, “Her method somehow reminds me a bit of the concept of Michelangelo carving the extra stone away from the already-exisiting soul of the sculpture.”

I’m over 40. When I look at this self-portrait, I am curious how I would look like when I’m 50 and I look forward to it. It empowers me, gives me motivation to exercise regularly to stay in shape. I feel I’m at my most confident status. I accept myself and how I look, I couldn’t accept it when I was younger.

As a woman over 40, I think it’s important to show people women over 40 are courageous, beautiful and resilient.
As an Asian woman, I’ve received verbal harassments since day one I set foot in Europe. While living in Europe, I wanted to hide and disguise myself, I want to be free from all the disgusting harassments.

This self-portrait challenged me in many ways. The easy way was hiding, show it to no one. If Hilma af Klint didn’t hide her paintings, didn’t specified that her work should be kept secret for 20 more years after her death, the entire world of art would be different today. Quote from Seth Godin, ” I don’t think her art was a breakthrough, I think it was selfish and cowardly, because she hid her art from the world. And she did it because she was afraid and she hadn’t had enough trust in herself and us to have said, “Here, I made this.” Because not only would she have changed us, but we would have changed her, and the art would have been even more extraordinary.”
It dawned on me, I shouldn’t hide my work. It took me years to understand it.

I have to break the new ground in order to grow as an artist, but I was afraid of my friends and family’s reaction. For this, I had a war within myself. I wrote a note to my friends about this:
“I’ve just finished the exhibition printing yesterday for Canon Pro Exhibition. The series I am going to exhibit is my new work and it’s very challenging for me mentally. I have a lot of fear. The series is about women over 40, the art of female form. It includes my self-portraits and very nude looking ones. I love my work of artistic nude but I always find it hard for me to show to the public because I know I have to face judgements and harassments. But I know I have to face it eventually, otherwise forever hiding I would never grow. I want to tell you this because I need to prepare you my friends, I don’t want you to get a shock when you see the photographs.”

“Art is something we get to do for other people.” I love this quote from Seth Godin who is a great teacher who taught me many things and has great influence on me. What he said gave me courage.

EXIF:Camera:Canon 5D Mark II Lens:EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM Shutter speed:1/160, Aperture:F6.3, ISO:160 , Focal length:67mm

New Beginning

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This image “New Beginning” to me it’s like an ultrasound scan, a human inside the womb, a newborn and a life beginning. When I was creating this image, I was going through an internal transition, a shift, a revolution. I’ve evolved from different life experiences and this is one of the major ones. After the dramatic pressure and push, like the birth, I across to the other side, I started to breath the fresh air. It’s a new beginning.

The technical part:
EXIF:Camera:Canon 5D Mark II Lens:EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM Shutter speed:1/125, Aperture:F6.3, ISO:500 , Focal length:35mm

I was laying on the floor and set the triple to the maximum height. I laid very close to the tripod so I can stay in the centre of the frame and most of my body would be at the similar distance to the camera. I want the whole body to be in focus, by setting my focal length to a wide angle 35mm, it’s easier to achieve that.
I replaced the backdrop with a backdrop I painted and photographed, and then edit it in PS. I wanted the background to look like the womb and I experiment different materials to create the effect. I use my period blood to paint on a sheet of thick drawing paper and nailed it. I was super excited about result and it made me feel very empowered, like a true feminist. I started to use menstrual cup because I no longer want to generate so much rubbish every month, so collecting the blood was very easy. This is the biggest secrete of creating this image….

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“New Beginning (2020)” has been awarded from 3 competitions locally and worldwide: 

  1. The winner of the Best Portrait Special Award from Malta Photography Society’s annual competition and will be exhibited among all 103 framed prints and 158 digital images from the 10th Dec 2021 till 7th January 2022 at Palazzo de la Salle in Valletta, Malta.
  2. Received the Silver Award at The Portrait Masters 2021 in the US; 
  3. Both “New Beginning” and “Greeted Michelangelo” received IPA (International Photography Awards) 2021 Honorable Mention and were exhibited at Canon Malta Showroom during summer 2021.

 

Prints are now available. Click here.

Flower Portraits

For a long time I was scared of using colours and experiment with colours. I’ve always admire people who can sue colours so brilliantly. When I was living in Spain and Italy, I noticed very quickly that how they are bold and accurate about using colour in everyday life. Watching the adverts, how people dress and how they decorate their houses and shops was just pure pleasure to enjoy and absorb. I’ve always thought that the muted colour is timeless so I couldn’t go wrong. I think it was good that it took me time to experiment, it takes practice. Now I’m really having a great time playing with colours. So much fun. ⁠

Such a dreamy effect! I blended 2 images together. One is the portrait of Nicole that I shot in the studio, the other is the flower I shot in the summer. So beautiful. 🙂

Love how the colour of the flower blended with the portrait. Although it took me a long time to get to experiment the flowers, now I’m truly enjoy it.