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Artwork: The Maltese Rock Band of the Mid-1980s

Updated: Jun 25



Toni Sant, known for his influential podcast series Mużika Mod Ieħor and his significant contributions to Maltese culture, was also a member of the mid-1980s rock band Artwork. This popular Maltese band, active from 1985, was a prominent feature in the local music scene and even had the opportunity to open for international acts such as Nazareth and play on the same stage in Frankfurt with X-tend in a festival headlined by Wet Wet Wet.


Formation and Early Days


Artwork emerged from the Rokarja AST community in Tigne, a hub for budding musicians. The original lineup included drummer Ferdinand Grima (known as Grimly Ferry), bassist Michael Harrison, keyboardist Mark Attard, singer Toni Sant, and guitarist Twanny Mifsud iċ-Ċimbillai (known as Tony Chamberlaine). This initial formation played at various local venues, gaining a reputation for their energetic performances and unique sound.


Within a few months of their formation, significant changes occurred. The band parted ways with the Rokarja AST scene, and Toni Sant transitioned from vocalist to guitarist, replacing Mifsud. This shift marked a new phase for Artwork, setting the stage for their subsequent success.


Music and Releases


In 1986, Artwork released a double A-sided 45 rpm single, "Girls Will Be Girls/It's All Over Now." This release captured the essence of their musical style, blending rock influences with distinct melodic elements. The single gained traction and helped solidify their presence in the Maltese rock music landscape.


Over the four years of their activity, Artwork saw several changes in their lineup. Notable members who joined the band included Manoel Pirotta and Paul Borg. Despite these changes, the core of the band, anchored by Grimly Ferry and Michael Harrison, remained consistent, ensuring a stable and evolving sound.


Performances and Legacy


Artwork's live performances were a significant aspect of their appeal. They opened for renowned international acts, providing them with broader exposure and a chance to showcase their talent to diverse audiences. Notably, they opened for Nazareth in Malta and Wet Wet Wet in Frankfurt, experiences that highlighted their capability to hold their own alongside established bands.


Despite their relatively short existence, Artwork left an indelible mark on the Maltese music scene of the mid-1980s. Their music, performances, and the dynamic changes within the band contributed to their lasting legacy.


Toni Sant's Continued Influence


While Toni Sant's tenure with Artwork was a significant chapter in his musical journey, his contributions to Maltese culture extend far beyond. His role in Mużika Mod Ieħor, along with his work in academia and digital media, demonstrates a lifelong commitment to promoting and preserving Maltese music and arts. Sant's experience with Artwork undoubtedly influenced his later endeavors, providing him with a foundation in the collaborative and creative processes essential to music production and broadcasting.


Artwork remains a memorable part of Malta's rock history, remembered for their dynamic music, evolving lineup, and significant performances. The band's journey, marked by collaboration and transformation, reflects the vibrant and diverse nature of the Maltese music scene during the 1980s. Through the legacy of Artwork and the ongoing work of individuals like Toni Sant, the rich tapestry of Maltese music continues to thrive and inspire.

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