The World Heritage Scholarship of 2021, a residency programme of one month at the World Heritage property ‘Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland’ (Sweden), was awarded to artist Imke Rust from Namibia/Germany. The call for applications was open for people from all over the world, including researchers, artists or other cultural actors and creators. Imke’s winning proposal explored the links between the World Heritage site in Sweden and the Namibian World Heritage site ‘Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes’.

“I must admit that while I have always been intrigued by history, I always thought conserving history does not leave much space for living in the present or to transform, be open and be free to create. We must be careful to maintain a delicate balance,” says Imke Rust.

She continues: “As I do further research on World Heritage sites, I realise many sites honour and care for the conservation of cultural and artistic creations. I am happy that in a commercial world people still recognize human creativity as valuable to our global community, which needs to be protected for future generations. I have realised the linkages between the past and present and how we can draw learnings from history. I have appreciated the fact that especially, the Gävleborg Region not only aims to conserve its history, but also encourages and supports new creativity to develop in correspondence to it.”

Imke Rust and her project during the residency in Sweden

Imke Rust grew up on a farm in Namibia, but now lives and works in Oranienburg, Germany. She could immediately establish the connection with the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland by creating a visual dialogue with the images and stories from Twyfelfontein. The two sites are artistically interconnected and came together to be a completely new multifaceted story.

Rust says: “I liked the challenge to combine two World Heritage sites, as I enjoy working in a context driven process. Much of my inspiration comes from my home country Namibia, and I was happy that we have an exciting World Heritage site Twyfelfontein or /Ui-//aes in which I immediately saw some connections to the decorated farmhouses of Hälsingland”.

Imke Rust is an established artist, educated at the University of South Africa. In her work, she explores the relationships between myth and reality, humankind and nature. Her art is deeply personal and it aims to create meaning through processes, stories and material. It strives to overcome the gap between cultures and continents as well as that between the contemporary and the historical. Imke Rust’s artistic ambition to connect the two World Heritage sites has captured the main essence of the Residence World Heritage Scholarship programme.

“My first idea was very straightforward and in hindsight pretty simple and eye-catching. Once I was in Sweden, I realised that it was too superficial and lacked any real depth. Experiencing the farms and having time to really feel and listen to the place helped me delve deeper into the question of what really connects the two places and what my role as the mediator between them should be. This shifted into a much more complex installation and different direction in my work”, Rust continues.

“It made me reconsider the value of creativity, ritual, beauty and community for humanity. It is what differentiates us from most other species, and I believe that it might contain more solutions to our survival and future than we truly realise. I guess that the work done by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention is immensely important as a reminder of our humanity, not so much as keeping a record, but more as a pointer in the present and future as to what humanity and life are really about, and where we can find the answers to many of our global problems, if we care to look deep enough.”

Imke Rust arrived at the World Heritage farm Erik Anders in Asta, Sweden just a few months after she had been awarded the 2021 World Heritage scholarship. After her journey in time and space during the stay, the result is an installation where both World Heritage sites have been woven together in impressive, meaningful and beautiful sceneries. It creates a profound impact on artists and their expressions as they live on a World Heritage site and gain first-hand experience of the culture and its community.

”I stayed at the farms Erik-Anders and Kristofers and felt very welcome and cared for at both places. I could feel at home quickly and really concentrate on my work, because everything was organized so well. My hosts were extremely caring and helpful, making me feel welcome and at home. Staying and working there for four weeks has given me the chance to really get in touch with the history and current energies. This has helped me to fully engage and correspond with the place and my project,” says Rust.

“This residency has been very exciting and transformative for me. It was an exciting and challenging concept and very well organized and supported. I am grateful for all the amazing people I have met and for getting to know this very special World Heritage site,” she continues.

For more information about the artist: www.imkerust.com

2022 Call for application is open now!

The 4th call for applications for the World Heritage Residence Scholarship at the World Heritage site ’Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland’ (Sweden), is now open for applications until 1 February 2022.

The scholarship is aimed to be awarded to one selected person with an idea to relate the World Heritage site Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland to another World Heritage site in an artistic, cultural or a research way. A grant of 5,000 € to carry out a selected idea/project and a stay in one or two World Heritage farms for a month, this World Heritage scholarship is an international opportunity open to researchers, artists and all kinds of cultural actors and creators from all over the world.

Find more information here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/news/2395