Juliane Brandes - Ulysses 2020

Juliane Brandes has been reading (and sometimes not reading) James Joyce’s epic Ulysses – a challenging novel that befits the long and difficult year just gone. The work in this new exhibition, both jewellery and objects, has grown from its pages. Whilst some references are more oblique, others spring directly from the episodes in the novel: the golden upturned palm ring Nausikaa (episode 13) or the alabaster hewn Skylla & Charybdis (episode 9), the mythical sea monsters whose story tells of the perils of choice with no good outcome, choice between ‘the lesser of two evils’ – a place we have often found ourselves in during the pandemic. Working with metals, walnut, coral and stone, Juliane chases, chisels, etches and casts her characters and forms. Chasing, she says, is her preferred technique. The process stretches into infinity, time becoming a means of design and the metal can be worked and reworked again and again. 

In the long run of 2020, I’ve been busy with the book Ulysses by James Joyce.
Read it and didn’t read it!
The characters came alive through the language and the humour was very welcome to me. 

This has resulted in a number of works that relate directly or indirectly to the book.
Although the place and time are very concrete, the text eludes a clear image. The time seems stretched by the vast abundance of the reading material and compressed in the clear primeval of the individual chapters.

Stretched into infinity, as if chiselled, layer upon layer is laid down. This is how chasing became my preferred technique. Time becomes a means of design and the metal can be remodelled again and again. 

Many of my works refer to the chapter names which Joyce used as working titles.
The reference to the Odyssey wanders far back in time and at the same time points to the present; because in the year 2020, one could often move between Scylla and Charybdis.