LOOKING AHEAD: ESTABLISHED GALLERIST LILY AGIUS OPENS A NEW CHAPTER

Sam Vassallo met Lily Agius at her independent gallery to talk about past shows, present preparations for one last show on 21 June and what the future has in store.

Lily Agius at home. Portrait photo by Elisa Von Brockdorff

Contemporary art aficionado Lily Agius is bidding farewell to her gallery in the heart of Sliema after more than a decade of flagship exhibitions and events. And while the local art scene says goodbye to one of the island’s few permanent art spaces, this doesn’t mean Agius is slowing down anytime soon.

“When I started 15 years ago, it felt like a Sisyphean battle to give Malta’s artists the recognition they deserved. We’ve come a long way since then, but we’ve still got a lot to do,” Agius explained. 

Closing this gallery space allows Agius to focus on promoting her artists internationally and the flexibility to do pop-up shows around the island. 

RUIN/EN/LUST group show at the pop-up space by Lily Agius Gallery, July 2021

“I feel like now is the time to focus on the bigger picture. I have my art publication, The Malta Artpaper, which we plan to publish in major art hubs in Europe and the Middle East. I want to establish my presence in London, where I grew up. I’ve also just moved to Floriana, where I have an interesting space which will hold some pop-ups and workshops called Green Shutters, which is another challenge to keep me on my toes.”

Over the years, the gallery established itself as a melting pot and meeting place for artists, art lovers and collectors alike. 

“It’s been great doing non-stop shows. The gallery has hosted such an interesting catalogue of contemporary art. I remember one show we did called 6:6, presenting the art of six established and six emerging artists side by side, artists whose bodies of art weren’t necessarily aligned but presented an interesting catalyst to discuss and reflect. That’s one of the beauties of art,” she said. 

Works in plaster by Emanuel Bonnici at 6:6 in 2012

The gallery has also been a space for different disciplines of art practice, like dance performances and music recitals. 

Closing event for Maltese charcoal artist CO-MA on 4th December 2021 with Yun Cai and dancers Florinda Camilleri & Valentine Soucy 

This was all present at the last show at Lily Agius Gallery called “Black Clouds of Smoke Made the White Clouds Look Dark” by CO-MA. The event included a swooning improvised piano recital by Yun Cai, which was interpreted by contemporary dancers. 

Ten years and hundreds of shows later, Agius, who was constantly adjusting art works on the wall during the interview, is clearly just getting started. 

Lily Agius with Malta-based American artist SJ Fuerst at her solo exhibition at Lily Agius Gallery 22 March 2019
Lily Agius with the Maltese artist John Paul Azzopardi at the opening of his solo show 30 October 2019 at Lily Agius Gallery

“I started this project because artists needed a professional space dedicated to exhibiting work. A place where you could meet dedicated clients face-to-face, a place for locals to experience what the scene has to offer, which is a lot. I’ve been extremely lucky to work with such talented people, meet regulars, find a space in Sliema and have such a fantastic landlord,” she mused.

Irist artist Sallyanne Morgan with Lily Agius at her solo show 13 June 2019
Lily Agius with CO-MA at the opening of his show Black Clouds of Smoke Made the White Clouds Look Dark 11 November 2021. Photo by Justine Ellul

Lily Agius Gallery’s final collective show in the Sliema space will be held on TUESDAY 21 JUNE with a piano performance by Yun Cai, followed by a solo show on the 1st of July by Christian Palmer at Green Shutters in Floriana. For more information contact Lily and sign up to the newsletters via info@lilyagiusgallery.com and +356 99292488. 

Photo by Ines Bahr at the closing show for CO-MA, 4 December 2021
Closing event 21 June 2022
First solo exhibition by Christian Palmer, to open at the new art space in Floriana, on 1 July 2022

More Interviews

Interviews

Q&A

Michela Moro – a journalist for international art, based in Milan and Malta – on interviewing es...