Mikaela Steby Stenfalk 2022
- Mikaela Steby Stenfalk 2022
2022 year's recipient of World Heritage Scholarship, Mikaela Steby Stenfalk, summarizes his residency month at the World Heritage Hälsingegårdar.
Region Gävleborg's world heritage scholarship/residence 2022 was awarded for the fourth time. 52 applications from 20 different countries were submitted. The strongest project description emanated from the artist Mikaela Steby Stenfalk with her project "Dialogue between two interiors" which was chosen as the recipient of World Heritage Scholarship in 2022.
– The dialogue between the two interiors of the World Heritage sites Notre Dame in Paris and Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland is characterized by brilliantly coloured paintings and stories which have been built up over time. Both constitute a priceless cultural heritage exposed to external influences; Notre Dame from the large-scale fire in April 2019, and Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland from the increased humidity of the climate, says Mikaela Steby Stenfalk.
– The dialogue between Notre Dame and Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland - fire and water - is shown in two separate series of sculptures. The former has been partially completed and will be exhibited with the French Institute at the beginning of next year. The other one I call the “Water Roses” and will start to take shape in the coming six months.
The World Heritage Scholarship is divided into two parts. Partly a residence where the recipient of the scholarship will have the opportunity to live and stay on a World Heritage farmhouse for a whole month. The second part consist of a sum of SEK 50,000 to spend on their project. Mikaela chose to live on two world heritage farmhouses spread over two weeks each; Kristofers in Stene and Erik-Anders in Asta.
– My experience has been both joyful and educational. I have been incredibly well received by the farmhouse owners on both a professional and personal level. I have had the opportunity to take part in the knowledge and history of the farmhouses and get to know the farmhouse owners and their everyday life, continues Mikaela, who describes the stay as incredibly rewarding.
– In addition to feeling fully immersed by the world heritage site, I had the pleasure of getting to know the farmhouse owners I stayed with. I could not have imagined a warmer reception.
A month's stay in the world heritage naturally affects the path from an application to reality. To actually step into the world heritage farmhouses, to view the decorations and paintings, and listen to the stories. The question is how much will change during the artistic process? According to Mikaela, the creativity just grew bigger and bigger.
– Much has changed from my first sketch, just as it so often is when one is in a creative process. The more perspectives I gained on the World Heritage site and the more farmhouses I visited, the more ideas cropped up. I travelled to Hälsingland with an idea for a sculpture series, now I have at least four series I want to produce! The residency has allowed me to step outside my usual framework, which of course has given med challenges. But it is also by breaking them that I have now found new paths in my artistry. The time away from my studio has forced me to think, rather than do, which has been very useful and rewarding.
Mikaela says that it has been interesting to understand through the scholarship, the application process to UNESCO for a presumptive World Heritage site and which decisions were necessary to get it through. Another strong impression was hearing what the award has meant in terms of opportunities and challenges for the farmhouse owners. But she also has her own connection to World Heritage through her grandfather, Birger Steby, who was an engineer with a very special mission.
– One of the largest projects my grandfather worked on was the UNESCO rescue operation and relocation of the temples at Abu Simbel in Egypt. He worked as one of the engineers at VBB (later Sweco, which had been commissioned in the project) and travelled to Egypt on a number of occasions. Grandfather's task was to calculate how each section should be cut, so that each part of the temple remained intact and at the same time did not weigh too much for transport. The stories about the fragmented and reassembled cultural heritage are one of my strongest memories of my grandfather, continues Mikaela, who now has the privilege of immersing herself in this.
– With the support of the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, I will be travelling to Abu Simbel this coming winter to start a new artistic project, where the image material from the trip will be mixed with material from my grandfather's photo album, letters and much more from the private archive which remains with my aunt. All in all, a story of a UNESCO-defined world heritage will be an important memory in Egypt's own history, parallel to a personal memory of three generations; grandfather's personal archives, my mother's memories of her father's travels to Egypt and finally my own childhood memories of grandfather's stories.
Autumn is now descending over Hälsingland and the World Heritage Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland. In December, it is time to announce the 2023 World Heritage Scholarship; the fifth in the order. What was it then that made Mikaela apply for the World Heritage Scholarship and does she have any advice for future scholarship recipients?
– My artistry investigates the collective memory of architecture and is often based on different types of archives or collections. It therefore felt like a matter of course to apply for the World Heritage Scholarship. Each creative process is unique, but for me it was very valuable to take the time to listen to the stories of the farmhouse owners, to visit the farms in peace and quiet - focusing on learning as much as I could about the world heritage while I was there. Only towards the end of the period of residency did I seriously start to think about how I wanted to take the project further.
And the project ”Dialogue between two interiors” has now been formulated and is waiting to take shape. But before that, Mikaela sends a huge thank you to the farmhouse owners on all the farms, who opened their doors to her during the residency.
– A special thanks to Stephanie and Pär at Kristofersgården and Britt-Marie and Pär at Erik-Anders for allowing me to stay and live with them.