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Åpen utstilling med Eva Hilhorst og Judith Vanistendael!

Velkommen til utstillingen med grafisk journalist Judith Vanistendael (Belgia) og tegneserieskaper og illustratør Eva Hilhorst (Nederland), som fortsatt er åpen i Det Blå Rommet i Bakerigården på Melbu! Kom innom mellom kl 10 - 15 på hverdager. Gløgg og pepperkaker. Utstillingen er åpen fram til jul 2023.


Many of us have met Graphic journalist Eva Hilhorst (Netherlands) and comics author and illustrator Judith Vanistendael (Belgium) during their stay in Melbu. They have visited Melbo Musikkforening, Frivilligsentralen, The youth club and others, and also portrayed numerous people living in Melbu in exchange for a story. Some of the portraits were presented at The Elvelangs trail in September, and are now to be seen in The Blue Room until Christmas. The artists both describe the residencies in Hadsel as enriching and rewarding.

- We applied for the residency because we were already working on a larger project in which we investigate climate change and migration. The residency gave us a lot of input for our project and at the same time we could do something positive and cheerful for the people living in Melbu by drawing the portraits based on the conversations we had. It was a beautiful concept to do it in several sessions during 2022 and 2023. And it was very interesting to see how things had changed and stayed the same over the course of one year, says Eva Hilhorst. - I first thought that nature would be the most intense experience, but actually it was the contact with the people that touched me most, both with the Norwegians and the refugees. I loved being in a place not too big, and the relaxed atmosphere in Melbu. Also, being invited and taken care of was very important to me, as you gave us an entrance into the lives of so many people in Melbu, says Judith.

- What experiences and memories are the most profound? - The stay in Melbu has inspired my work tremendously and I regret that it is over. I wish I could come back and stay for a longer time and see if I could make a project out of it with more depth and meaning. I think doing a ‘slow’ project like this is a good way to investigate a topic profoundly. The scale of Melbu is small, so it feels that you can really make a connection and do something useful, both for the community and for yourself as an artist/storyteller, says Eva. - For me this would be the stories told to us by the refugees and the contact we established through painting their portraits. The fact that we did so many different portraits gave us some sort of mosaique of the people. The other very profound experience was the Elvelangs festival itself. The fact that it is so short and unpredictable gives it an intensity I never expected. The number of people coming to visit the festival was impressive, and I really liked the mixture of people: young, old, just everybody. In Brussels, where I live, a festival caters for a specific age, or a specific group and the public is never so mixed, Judith says.

- Melbu is a small town and 10% of the inhabitants are asylum seekers, people who often are traumatised and are waiting for months while they are not allowed to work. They are far away from home in a strange culture. It was good to see how the Elvelangs festival and the dugnad and these kinds of things were helping to bring a sense of belonging to the people, even in a situation where they don’t know if they will have to leave in a month’s time or even the next day. (that was what happened to one of the refugees who helped us a lot. He is now in Germany waiting for his documents). It was also good to talk with children. We asked a girl what she thought about the people in her school who came from the refugee centre, she said; they are classmates, just like the others. A seven year old Norwegian boy spoke perfect English, which is an amazing consequence of interaction between cultures. A lot of people, especially from Bankplassen, told us how happy they were to participate in the project, Eva says.

- Has the stay in Melbu inspired your work? - Yes, very very much.I am making a graphic novel/comic about a refugee coming to Melbu, and the main character will be drawing portraits! So the residency will be used in the book. (publication 2025), Judith says. - I wrote an article about the project. Judith and I are working for a Flemish magazine, Eva says.

Vi ser fram til å følge Eva Hilhorst og Judith Vanistendael i deres videre arbeid!

Tusen takk til alle som har vært en del av prosjektet!

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