A City Inside

A City Inside

I wasn’t previously familiar with the work of Tillie Walden, so I had no idea what to expect when reading A City Inside. What I got was symbolic, a strongly constructed series of images that requires subconscious consent in submerging oneself. It’s a piece based on emotion, not logic.

For those who need something more concrete, the publisher’s book description says

Shifting between the everyday and the surreal, A City Inside recounts one woman’s life from childhood home, to the first love that she will never forget, to the creation of the idea of herself that she can grow old with and the home that she can grow old in. Walden’s follow up to the lyrical I Love This Part is a poetic exploration of the process of growing older; the journey towards finding out who you are and building a life for yourself. It is a universal story of how we don’t just come-of-age once, but many times throughout our lives.

A City Inside

And all that is true, and some may find it useful as a signpost. I was instead distracted by Walden’s beautiful detail and the subtle strength and confidence of her linework. Early on, her captions talk about growing up happy in a lonely space. That combination of usually unmatched emotions sets the tone, that this will be a thoughtful and unusual read.

I could really relate to the idea of struggling to find a place to live where you feel comfortable. The central conflict, as I’d put it, seems to be between love for a person and not being able to stay with them. For such a young creator, these are disturbingly mature observations.

This is a divination kind of work, where you pick it up at different times in your life and find different favorite panels or moments that speak to you. A City Inside is unusual in that it’s about finding satisfaction in oneself instead of externally, through a partner or a craft.

The artist has posted a few preview pages. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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