Personal Art Project
Initiation and realisation of a two-part crocheted wall installation, Tales of Two Cities (120 x 158 cm [London], 39 x 60 cm [Kamnik]), a specially created project for the exhibition Tales of Two Cities, curated by Karmen Volavšek and held at the Knjižnica Franceta Balantiča (Kamnik, Slovenia • 24 Sep–2 Nov 2022) in conjunction with the international exhibition of contemporary art Expect the Unexpected (ETU 22) put on by ArtKam. A fragment of the piece in the making was already shown in the exhibition Sketchbook for a Journey (Ptuj, Slovenia • 25 Aug–10 Sep 2011), while the whole installation was also included next to the photographic wall installation London Meal (2012) in the exhibition Andreja Brulc: Odstiranja/Unveilings (Šmarje pri Jelšah, Slovenia • 7 Feb–24 Mar 2023).
As explained in my interview with Miomira Šegina in Ona Plus/Delo and Domžalec, "The title is humorous, if not clichéd, play on the title of the novel A Tale of Two Cities by the English writer Charles Dickens. I have lived in London since I emigrated from Komenda – part of the Kamnik municipality when I was growing up –, which is depicted in the installation with a circle of bright red wool, recycled from a vest my mother crocheted for me in the 1970s. I used the wool here as a memory of her, who also taught me this craft skill.… I already started crocheting the circles by chance in 2010. Then I continued them sporadically in front of the TV screen while watching Scandinavian noirs, so that I didn't feel guilty about the time-wasting, and especially intensely during the most brutal, surrealistic period in my life, in the period just before and after the British referendum to secede from the European Union in June 2016. On the other hand, a specially made installation for the Kamnik library was a kind of craftivism as a project in the regeneration of public space, which coincides with the philosophy of ArtKam and our exhibition."
Playing on the somewhat clichéd title borrowed from the novel by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities – a book I read on Anthony’s recommendation – my artwork is an experimental "cartographic" journey representing two places, the small Slovene town Kamnik and London, in which I have woven my stories based on memories and experiences of the town where I grew up and of the city of my residence as an adult. Like one of the lead characters in The English Patient, the Hungarian cartographer Count László de Almásy, employed in the 1930s by the Royal Geographical Society to draw maps of the Sahara in pencil, I render my two maps, but in yarn. The visual representation of each place, consisting of multiple crocheted circles, each different in size and colour, stitched together following the outline of each map, is my imagination of mapmaking, a vision of a multicultural world without borders. Like The English Patient, the fragmented and fragile installation symbolically and metaphorically plays with the concept of identity and nationality. The installation is a therapeutic project, a reconciliation in combining Kamnik and London, my past and present, and the question of the future and to what extent I want the feeling of displacement as a newcomer and foreigner in both countries.… When my hardback book designs for a literary publishing house from Ljubljana, for whom I worked from London for ten years, were launched in 2007, a Slovene journalist called me "a British talent with a Balkan temperament". So, here I am, 30 years on, living in no man’s land, a Slovene patient who grew up in Yugoslavia that no longer exists, and a British patient feeling like Count Almásy who says, "All I ever wanted is a world without maps."
– Andreja Brulc, Extract from a short story "Rekviem za Anthonyja Minghello", RTV SLO (Kultura/Knjige), MMC RTV SLO, 17 Nov 2022
The use of traditional techniques has, above all, a personal 'lost and found' element, that has not only become my 'homecoming' by reconnecting to the roots of earlier female generations but also very 'welcoming' as valuable skills to possess, so that we know where we come from, who we are and where we are going.
– Andreja Brulc, Statement for Art Residency in Oaxaca, Mexico, 16 April 2012
[The use of traditional techniques] … is most evident in the crocheted installation Tales of Two Cities, which is a deliberate play on the title of Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities. The work is a symbolic and metaphorical self-portrait of Andreja, which presents a visual narrative of life in two cities, Kamnik and London. The geometric shapes of colourful circles of different sizes represent autobiographical stories through which Andreja interweaves her personal, residential, cultural and artistic identity in home and foreign environments.
— Karmen Volavšek, Curator/Author of Andreja Brulc: Odstiranja/Unveilings, Book/Exhibition Catalogue, 1 Feb 2023, 16
Red has a special meaning for Andreja. Red is the dominant and symbolic colour in the expressively preponderant black-and-white world of the presented artworks and illustrations. Red is the colour of love (Love is in the Air, Red), red is the colour of blood, fire, rebellion and violence (Adam and Eve, Rembrandt’s Girl). Red is the colour of her childhood clothes, which her mother used to dress her in. She has a dual relationship with red, just as the colour itself has a double meaning. She could not tolerate the sight of red for a long time, but in the work Tales of Two Cities, in the map of the municipality of Kamnik, her hometown Komenda is depicted with a bright red circle from the recycled wool of the vest that her mother had crocheted for her in her early childhood. Red is the colour that irritates the turkeys, who chased Andreja in the yard of her father’s parents in Dolenjska (Lower Carniola) because of her red clothes. Red is glowing…
— Karmen Volavšek, Curator/Author of Andreja Brulc: Odstiranja/Unveilings, Book/Exhibition Catalogue, 1 Feb 2023, 15
Installation photos: Denis Kličič (portrait) & Matic Javornik (landscape)