Valletta (Xita tal-Ħamrija)

by James Charles Hester

Xita tal-ħamrija is a term used to describe a meteorological phenomenon that occurs when fine sand and dust particles from the Sahara Desert are lifted into the atmosphere and transported by prevailing winds. Some of these sands make their way to the island of Malta, typically making a mess of everyone’s windows, but also creating a dreamlike haze above the ancient cities. For a brief moment in time the sky and the land become one. 

  • Acrylics on canvas
  • 122cm by 122cm stretched on a 3cm deep stretcher
  • 2023
Primarily working as an abstract artist, always with an emphasis on conveying a sense of ‘zen calm’, Hester sometimes utilises these abstract painting techniques to inform observations of real life. Such as here with this scene of Valletta, of which he says:
  • “I have always wanted to paint Valletta. To somehow depict it alive within deep time. Where even a hundred years might trouble it little more than a fleeting second.
  •  The Saharan sand phenomenon of the Xita tal-ħamrija seemed the perfect vehicle to convey this dreamlike state”.


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