Traditional mosaic tiles, bright and colourful waves, and heritage buildings are just some of the beautiful things Mia brings to life in her paintings, but there is much more to this Maltese born, London based artist than meets the eye.
Words by Lauren John | Extract taken from March's 2022 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here
“Being in London means I can easily find a class if I want to improve or practise a technique. I have worked with, as well as taught, drawing, painting, printing, photography, digital art, animation and illustration, 3D art such as casting and clay and wire art.” Once you’ve got the creative bug it’s hard to resist trying new things, but there’s always something that proves to be a nemesis you just can’t get the hang of, and for Mia, it’s a form of 3D art. “One method I still seem to not manage, despite many years of trying, is wheel clay throwing. It’s a particular way of throwing and holding the clay in position while turning the wheel. My clay always ends up with a wobble or flying across the room.”
While you picture bits of clay flying around an art studio, let’s go back to Malta and the inspiration for Bonnymia. Mia’s signature pieces under the Bonnymia name are wooden utensils, bowls, and charcuterie boards. These are hand-painted with traditional Maltese tile designs, blue waves, or paintings inspired by buildings, landscapes, or even fun Christmas scenes. Her products, along with custom orders are all expressive, evocative pieces, and that is what Mia wanted her art brand to be all about. “My art on wood was something I created as a way to express myself. Missing Malta and family, as well as losing my beloved grandmother. I wanted to create something that conserved her memory."
One of her earliest designs was shared on social media by a friend and it was from there her business grew and she “realised that there are many like me that want to preserve a memory of a person or place within an art form that is usable.” Social media exposure has seen Bonnymia grow with products being shipped across the world from Australia to South America, and Europe in between. While the internet has helped with exposure, it’s selling in person that has helped her on another level. Mia has benefitted from connecting with customers and has become more confident in getting her name out there as an artist.
“A turning point has been doing stalls and meeting clients face to face. Developing a personal rapport with clients, and not just through online interactions, helps me grow in confidence. There is a pure joy that comes from seeing happy clients and the impact, however small, that my art can have on people’s lives.”
Mia mentions a story of a lady in the United States who enquired asking about a particular tile pattern, which was in an old photo taken at her grandparents’ home, a farm in Malta. It was a childhood memory she wanted to re-live, and Mia was able to make that happen. She is an artist that cares a lot about her customers personal stories, which often fuels the fire. “It's experiences such as these that spur me on to keep painting and creating, and give me a rush of adrenaline in the process.”
When Mia is not creating and taking inspiration from her customers stories, she is immersing herself in art in other ways. Mia enjoys visiting the Tate Modern with her family and seeing the reactions of her children aged 8 and 18 to the exhibits. This well-known London gallery space is known for its unique contemporary art exhibits, but more traditional sights have been an inspiration too.
“I recently travelled across Western Europe and drew a lot of inspiration from places such as Barcelona, Bordeaux, Florence, and the Loire Valley. A place that recently took me by surprise is Palermo, Sicily. I was in awe of the way most places are adorned with hand-painted tiles as well as inlaid marble patterns. I am intrigued by the history of the patterned tile, and how, since its origin in Egypt around 4000BC, it is still very popular and used across the globe to give a place an identity.”
Identity is important to Mia, but just like any artist and crafter, her work can run in different directions, and she’s always open to trying new things. “One medium I am planning to experiment with is textiles. Having seen artwork using stitching, I love the beautiful texture of fabrics as well as the patterns and designs. As a result, I am now learning to sew with my daughter.”