© Veronika Moos, 2002-2007

Belonging & Beyond

.A collaborative project between Lin Holland, Liverpool
and Veronika Moos-Brochhagen, Cologne

The two artists have been working together for over five years on projects related to the twinned cities of Cologne and Liverpool, Cologne’s longest-standing twinning partnership (since 1952).
Their theme is two different human experiences: on the one hand, the experience of being involved and associated (belonging) and, on the other, the search for freedom, release, breaking free (going beyond).

Holding and releasing
Numerous stories, experiences, and memories are woven into the fabric of worn coats that have been loyal servants to their wearers for several years. The wearers often associate things with these items of clothing that go far beyond their day-to-day use.

Even when these coats are beyond repair, they are often kept for a long time. People often find it hard to part with an item of clothing such as this.

The “Belonging & Beyond” project called on people to donate their old, worn out coats and to include in their pockets the stories associated with them. These coats, which are Coatloaded with precious memories, were then put together with painstaking care. The coats released themselves from their original purpose and were transformed into two walk-in coat rooms, which can be entered by visitors. Inside the coat room, they can listen to the stories of the various coats and reach into the pockets to read the memories that have been put there.

Take a moment with the coats: Who wore them? Where do they come from? What things have they experienced? Where have they been? Where are their owners now?

Discover the stories that accompany these coats: brief notes and lengthy declarations of love. Some are happy, others sad; some exciting, others romantic.

The coats tell stories of links and relationships around the world: from the button that was bought in New York to the jacket that travelled all the way to Saudi Arabia. All of these stories are now linked to one another in “Belonging & Beyond”.

Perhaps yours is inside the work, too?


  • Sept-Nov. 2004 Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool
  • April-May 2005 St. Maria im Kapitol, Cologne
  • August 2005, World Youth Day, Cologne
  • Sept.-Oct. 2005 Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool
  • April-May 2007 Cathedral Trier, Germany


About the collaboration
The collaborative partnership between Veronika Moos-Brochhagen and Lin Holland began when they met in 1999 during the Liverpool/Cologne Sister City exchange – ‘Eight Days A Week’

Cologne and Liverpool have been sister cities since 1952 and in 1999 five artists from Cologne held an exhibition in Liverpool. During their time in the city they actively sought artists for a collaborative project for the future. Moos-Brochhagen and Holland identified similarities within their practices and over the course of the following two years they visited in each other’s homes, studios and cities, and developed their proposals for the exhibition ‘Made In Köln – Found In Liverpool’. Three works were made, each artist made a work independently and one work was made together. The titles for these were “The Same Only Different”. The exhibition was held 2002 at The Old City Hall, Cologne and View Two Gallery, Liverpool.db_24_ B1452

After completing ‘Made In Köln – Found In Liverpool’, Holland and Moos-Brochhagen wished to continue their collaborative partnership. Further discussions identified interests around the theme of ‘aspiration’ both for the work and with regard to everyday living. They recognised the need (and the joy) in being connected to the routines of daily life, whilst at the same time searching for some ‘other’ meaning to existence.  In some terms this ‘other’ life could be recognised by people as a spiritual search; the need to find answers to the big questions – who am I? What is life about? What happens when life ends?  Being involved in the creative arts allows exploration of these questions and this is the area Moos-Brochhagen and Holland wish to explore through the project ‘Belonging And Beyond’

They propose to make a body of work that reflects two aspects of life:

  • the physical, earthbound and bodily experienced
  • the aspirational, searching and spiritual

The proposal requires the active involvement of an audience. The artists suggest that people visiting the Cathedrals and Churches from their two home cities would be the most appropriate, as these are places where people often face these questions.  Ceremonies that mark our arrival into the world and our departure from it, significant events during our lives are celebrated in Cathedrals and Churches.

These audiences will be invited to contribute an old/unwanted item of clothing – specifically a coat, as the coat is a silhouette and shape that identifies an individual, the architecture of the body.  Together with the coat, each person will be asked to record their thoughts and reflections upon the two issues stated above, or alternatively to reflect on their relationship with the Cathedral or Church. 

Two sculptures will be made. The forms will reflect their associative meanings.  Each structure will be covered with the contributed coats (the mark of individual identity) and the stories will be placed on the interior, inside the pockets. The scale of the works will allow the audience to enter the sculptures, interacting with the work, reading or listening to the stories once inside.

The research and collaborative element of the project will generate information that at this stage cannot be predicted. The contributions of the collaborators and the information they provide are of paramount importance and it is, therefore, vital to maintain an amount of flexibility regarding the works final resolution.

Finally, the concept of
“Belonging and Beyond” will become embodied in the work as each contributor will ‘belong’ to the work, as they give their input to it; as indeed the work will ‘belong’ to each contributor and become more than the sum of its parts.  The concept will be fully realised if it creates a forum for the participating Cathedrals and Churches to begin, or sustain, a dialogue that carries beyond the differences within communities belonging to contemporary ecumenical society.

Translation: Sybina Richter

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