Ġulja Holland’s latest works challenge religious notions of the spiritual with disturbing images of a child victim of war. Entitled Dreams of a Child, her portraiture series is based on a singular image of a child victimised in the Gaza conflict. It is deliberately daring, intentionally shocking and draws the audience into a place of confrontation and deep thought.

The exhibition forms part of the Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale, which opened on the 13th November and will run until the 7th January 2016. Organised by Dr Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci, this event showcases some of the world’s most prominent foreign and local artists from 27 countries.

Holland’s work is on display on the first floor at the Museum of St Paul’s Cathedral and ties in with the overarching theme of the biennale – Christianity, Spirituality and the Other – and poignantly sits a few metres shy of a two-metre Christ-clad crucifix, the perfect juxtaposition for the message intended.

Unlike their saviour, the repeating heads of this accursed juvenile sit four in a row, lacking any glorification or promise most commonly seen in religious art. Holland admits that the disturbing matter was deliberately intended “to shock the audience into thoughtfulness”.


Image: A close up on one of the artist’s painting for Mdina Biennale  |  Credits to Ġulja Holland


The works are chillingly nailed to intersecting planks of wood, strengthening the religious undertones of the piece by the mimicking of the large golden crucifix adjacent. Typical of Holland’s work, the imagery is sourced almost exclusively from photography. The highly saturated palette seeks to address the hyper-reality of our times as presented by social media.

Currently living in Malta following her completion of a BA Hons. Fine Arts from the Leeds College of Art, Holland specialises in painting, in addition to taking part in and co-curating exhibitions in the UK. She has participated in the famed Free Range degree show in London, and is currently preparing to host her first solo exhibition in Malta at the Wignacourt Museum, Rabat in March.


For more information, visit the Mdina Biennale website.