Her work is exceptional. We asked her a few questions. Her writing is as beautiful as her lace. Do you have a cup of good tea or coffee? If yes, sit down with us and enjoy Marika's world.
When did you learn bobbin lace?
My mother had started teaching me bobbin lace when I was eight years old. I remember it was an edging worked with six pairs of bobbins, and she had made me draw the pattern because I did not have one. I can never forget that first time when I experienced lace making. What bobbin lace means to you.
I was brought up in a weaving and lace industry and shop. My ancestors from my mother's side (who is Gozitan) are all weavers, spinners, and lace makers, and this made it natural for me to want to learn both trades, but through the years, I focused more on bobbin lace. I feel I have it in my blood, and I cannot do without it, I have to make lace. I love the challenge each pattern brings with it, and seeing it take shape is like a poet writing his poetry. How did you come with the idea of combining lace and painting?
Marika Camilleri - Trust Issues - Private Collection
I had this thing in my head that I wanted to do something with lace. Lacemakers in Malta were only making the traditional Maltese lace to decorate their furniture; it was just doilies, doilies, and doilies. From some international lace magazines, I observed that lacemakers came up with ideas that I found intriguing. I wanted to keep the traditional techniques and designs, but create something different - take that step further.
My first experiment was a doodled up design with traditional motifs, which turned out to be an abstracted form of Maltese lace. The motifs seemed to be pushing against each other, showing movement - with this, I wanted to show that Maltese lace needed to change, otherwise it would die a natural death. With this experiment, I had elevated Maltese lace from an artisan craft to the level of art. From there, I continued experimenting and decided to have a try with combining lace and painting. I had made a face mask inspired by an onion and worked it in colored threads. The design was still Maltese lace. I loved it and wanted to take it a step further and created a painting to put the face mask on.
Marika Camilleri - Onion Mask 2012
The biggest motivation that encouraged me to experiment further was my participation in the Malta Art Fair in May 2017. I wanted to exhibit my ideas with painting and lace to the public to see their reaction. It was a success, and my work was very much appreciated - they had never seen Maltese lace expressed as contemporary art.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Well, inspiration can come from various situations in life. I also listen to music; music helps you to set the mood and express your feelings and your inner self. Nature is another inspiration source - it has interesting textures, shapes, and form. I also like the female figure. There is a lot you can do with lace.
Marika Camilleri - GAIA in private collection
How long are you making lace? I have been making lace for 43 years now and am still experimenting!
Do you teach classes? I have taught lace for nine years - mainly at home to a group of students, and I must say I used to really enjoy it. Through teaching lace, I learned a lot from the challenges that the students offered - my recommendation is never to say I cannot do this or that - but always say I will try - and you will manage and be successful.
Marika Camilleri - Butterfly
Do you attend fairs?
I do attend fairs and exhibitions whenever I can. I was the founding member and President of the Malta Lace club for ten years, and I, together with the committee, used to organize Lace Days and activities for our members. Today I attend artisan fairs held by the Malta Crafts Council, where I can showcase and sell my work. I also have my page on Facebook as well as my Etsy Shop from where one can buy the lace I design and create.
I encourage all lacemakers to think different....look at your limitations as possibilities, and you will create wonders.
Did you enjoy reading this story? Yes, we think so. We hope you are inspired enough to start your own creation.
You can find Marika's work.
Marika Camilleri - The Tipsy Revellers