Trees, art and the power of creativity

tree (Jeni)

From my first couple of exchanges, I could already feel the passion that English born artist Jeni Caruana has for her craft. Our path at tappintomalta had already crossed a couple of times with Jeni, so her work isn’t new to me. However, I did feel that her latest collection, Arbor Vitae, has a new element about it compared to her other work that I had already seen.


Trees have always been one of Jeni’s recurrent motifs. Arbor Vitae began with the idea of juxtaposing dancers in fleeting motion with the static motion and stability of trees. Having seen some of her pieces focusing on dance and movement, this didn’t surprise me at all. However, Jeni told me that the collection developed into more of a focus on the trees themselves, exploring the many meanings attached to them, and how vitally important it is that we preserve, respect and protect them. In fact, we spent some time talking about Malta’s own indigenous trees and what their preservation brings to our islands. I felt it even more fitting, therefore, that Jeni’s upcoming exhibition of the Arbor Vitae collection should be held at the Majjistral Nature and History Park.

I was keen to know where Jeni gets her inspiration from as I find her style to be punctuated by such wonderful variation. She wasn’t afraid to admit that she is constantly inspired by other artists whose work takes her breath away. She feels that ultimately, that is what art is all about: Creating for other people’s pleasure. In fact, when I asked about how she feels about detaching from the pieces that she sells, she admitted to me that it is lovely knowing that a little piece of her is bringing joy to someone else.

Jeni trained as an illustrator at college and worked in graphic design for a while. So, although she has been taught to draw with precision and accuracy, she finds herself fighting against that conformity to come up with her fluid creations. This is also reflected in her techniques and materials as she favours materials that she cannot easily control.

I was also interested in Jeni’s role as a teacher of art. I am adamant that I cannot draw to save my life. But Jeni is convinced that with 2 hours of focus, she can teach anyone to draw. After taking a break from drawing herself while raising her family, Jeni also found that she forgot how to draw, but was able to teach herself all over again. In this way, she also discovered the secret to teaching others. Apparently, it is all about getting underutilised synapses in our brains that encourage creativity working again. I for one am very keen to find out whether my stressed-out brain can be retrained in this way.

Arbor Vitae will open on Friday 4th November at the Majjistral Nature and History Park Visitors’ Centre between Manikata and Golden Bay. Anyone is invited to attend the opening from 7:30pm. The exhibition will remain open until 16th December, daily between 10am and 3pm.

Visit Jeni’s Blog for more information about the artist herself and her wonderful collections.


Read next: 5 Painters to look out for in the Maltese Art Scene


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