Katel Delia is French and is also deeply attached to her Maltese origins, having lived and worked between Malta and Paris since 2016. She creates installations combining photography, sculpture and writing. Katel believes that the traces of the past reflect the present while she is also very curious about the perception of space, and marine environment.
When and how did you get started?
My first contact with modern art was when I visited the Pompidou museum aged five. Back at school in Brittany, when I told my teacher that I climbed steps into a huge tube and saw many paintings, she did not believe me. To be fair with my teacher, the Pompidou museum had only been open a couple of years and was not as well-known as it is today.
As a teenager, I visited many museums on my own. In 1999 I completed my DNSEP degree at the Beaux-Arts in Rennes (France). Even if at first I worked in IT, I still had one foot in art. During the past five years or so I have been exhibiting my work, and I manage to do it regularly in both Malta and Paris.
What genre do you consider your work to be?
I mostly practice photography, sculpture and writing. I then combine them into installations. When possible, I like to involve the public. I invite them to interact with my work, as was the case in my last project “Biased Equilibrium”, presented at the MSA exhibition Perception II – Postscript. This work was composed of more than 700 photos of fragments of nature showing a view of a peaceful landscape. Visitors, if they wished, could remove one photo from the mosaic, but little by little, a new image would seem more oppressive.
Describe your work in 10 words or less.
Multi-disciplinary artist, installation, transmission, heritage, humanist, environment.
Where was your first exhibition held?
I finally decided to present my work to the public five years ago. It was in an event called “Open art Studio” at Menilmontant in Paris, in my small apartment.
My first one in Malta was at Saint James Cavalier in March 2017, the exhibition’s title was “Familja migrazzjoni. I was born there, but I live here…”
Do you have a favourite from among your own artworks? If so, why?
I don’t know if I really have a favourite because I am always fully invested in my projects. But, for sure I have a special attachment to “Familja migrazzjoni, Legacy objects”. It consists of 18 miniature objects I have sculpted in wax and then they were cast in bronze by my two dear friends, the late Joseph and Christopher from the Funderija Artistika Joseph Chetcuti.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a photography series. I am combining my work from the past and the recent photography I worked on in Tunisia. I kept the same theme of my previous projects – transmission and immigration. It is about my Maltese family that immigrated and found refuge in Tunisia almost one century ago; and how as a descendant I can re-appropriate the area and the memories of my family that I want to share again with the public. Hopefully, I will be able to present this project soon in both Malta and Tunisia.
Which artist’s work are you most inspired by?
It is hard to say which artist’s work inspires me the most. But for sure what inspires me the most is visiting exhibitions and reading books. I love to visit exhibitions, I do not limit myself to photography, sculptures, or installations. I am open-minded and curious about art. I think it is what helps me the most in my research and daily work.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
What is the epitome of happiness for you?
I like to discuss with visitors when I have an exhibition and when someone tells me “Your work moves me” or “Your work is relevant, and it helps me to think differently”, I feel in another world.
What brought you to Malta?
In my childhood, I used to visit my Maltese grandparents. When I became an adult I came more often, almost every year. Around 10 years ago, when my father passed away, my family and I came in Malta to honour his memory as he asked us. I thought it would be my last time in Malta. But Malta was still in my heart and in 2016 I decided to spend more time here and I am still here.
What do you love about Malta?
The weather, the kindness of people and the possibility to express my artwork.
What do you hate about Malta?
The bipartisanship in politics, there is no space for a third, fourth or other voices. I do not like how the majority of the people follow their party and the leader blindly, without daring even slightly to express themselves, for fear of being accused of being disloyal to their party. Nobody can agree 100% to a person. In any relationship there can never be a wholly dominant and totally dominated body, so to see it at the scale of a nation it is incredible. Fortunately things are changing, slowly.
Favourite colour and what it means to you?
Since my childhood, I loved violet, without knowing that it’s the colour of feminists. I am a feminist! Violet is also for me a mix of red – passion – and blue – the sea that I am particularly close to.
What is Katel Delia’s favourite indulgence?
My favourite indulgence is cheese or dark chocolate! In French, we have the same word “indulgence” but the main meaning is aptitude of forgiving, tolerance and humanity, I think I have this. I would love people to have more empathy for others especially in the context of migration, and to take care more of our natural environment, I try to communicate this through my work.
To enjoy the work of other Maltese and Malta-based artists like Katel Delia, visit our online Artists Directory