No matter how old you are or where you live, I’m willing to bet that if you’ve spent more than a couple of years in Malta, you know of Sliema’s Exiles.
One of the island’s OG seaside hangouts, the small bay and shack-turned-restaurant by its side have stood the test of time… and now, its first-generation pioneer has been given the ultimate shout-out right where it all started.
“The big is yet to come,” local tattooist and graffiti artist Justin Bonnici said on Facebook earlier this week, sharing a sneak peek of his latest commissioned mural, this time in Sliema.
“The new wall for Paradise Exiles, finishing off the first part with Chris Engerer’s portrait, the man that started it all.”
The post quickly gained a lot of traction, with hundreds of likes pouring in and people congratulating Justin for the remarkable resemblance to the Exiles founding father, who will be turning 65 this summer.
“It’s my third attempt painting in realism colours using spray cans, so let me know what you think,” Justin said, getting a whole lot of positive feedback before unleashing the full extent of the mural.
A couple of days later, though, the full mural was good to go, with Justin taking to Facebook one more time to show the much larger, final picture.
“Last touchups on this crazy mural,” he said, revealing the second half of the design, a massive octopus chilling with a glass of wine next to Chris.
By the end, people were blown away, impressed at Justin’s artistic chops and the portrait’s spitting image of the beloved Exiles figure.
Another shot of Chris’ portrait was also proudly shared by his son and former Labour MEP candidate Cyrus Engerer, who had just last week shared some 2020 news on the Sliema hangout.
“Paradise Exiles soon ready for whenever we reach the post-CoVID19 stage,” Engerer said last week, sharing a photo from the seaside spot.
“Whenever that will be, we’ll definitely be chilling – rain or shine!”