Walnuts were the topic of my master thesis at HDK. One of my aims was to connect embroidery and photographs. As a technique I used gum print, a photo technique combined with pigment colours and normally used on paper. But I worked on canvas, not on paper, and changed some of the chemicals, including gum arabic.
One of my ancestors – Andreas Bader – was born in an outpost of Transylvania in 1723, in a small village called Nadeş (that is its Romanian name). His parents belonged to the German minority and lived in serfdom to the Hungarians. The young and gifted Andreas was fortunate enough to go to school. He did well and got the chance to attend school in three different places in Transylvania: Mediaş, Sighişoara, Braşov (with their Romanian names). But to continue his studies he had to emigrate. He was ransomed from serfdom and moved to Wittenberg where he studied and later became a teacher nearby. His mother's last gift was a small bag with nuts in it. He never returned to his home village but when he was old he wrote a letter back, remembering all the good places of his youth. The bag of nuts his mother had given him was kept in the family. Its existence caused the telling and retelling of Andreas’ story. But finally it was destroyed in one of the bombings of Berlin during the Second World War.
In my childhood the adults already had forgotten whether the bag he left behind contained hazelnuts or walnuts. As a child I really wondered why Andreas had never eaten any of those nuts or maybe planted them. The first question was answered for me when I first time came to Nadeş myself in 1986 or 87. The road to Nadeş was lined with an avenue of huge walnut trees. The next question I was able to answer when I moved abroad myself: It took quite a long time until I had a place to plant something. And it was really hard to throw away things that reminded me of home, even if they were useless.
It is easier to start to tell a story with concrete objects of remembrance. The story would not survive that otherwise useless bag of nuts for very long. That’s why I wanted to create some fictitious memorabilia based on these pieces of a story.