“Nature uses human imagination to lift her work of creation to even higher levels.”
Marres Projects, Bureau Europa, and Camille Oostwegel Château Hotels & Restaurants have partnered to form of a cultural research project called Imaged Stories. This project primarily focuses on the history of the WinselerHof estate in Landgraaf—a 16th-century farmhouse that opened in 1985 as a completely restored and furnished hotel and restaurant by Camille Oostwegel. Secondly, the surroundings of the Kerkrade/Landgraaf, with its rich history, will be inventoried. Since Roman times, the region has been a border area and is characterised by different historical developments and their traces, thus influencing the language, cultural practices, and the formation of the landscape. For example, think of the many foreign immigrants who came to work in the area's mines. The project intends to make visible the effects of these industrial and cultural exchanges and recognise the region's distinct history.
Imaged Stories was launched in August 2013. Four artists and designers were invited to stay for a week on the WinselerHof estate and to work on a visual intervention in its grounds. It was decided to establish a diverse group of participants that can motivate and inspire each other and, at the same time, have its own signature. Eventually, the following participants were selected: Astrid Mingels (artist), Kim Bouvy (artist, photographer, educator), Chris Kabel (designer) and Hans Engelbrecht (ecological gardener and director of de Groene Stap). The participants all have different backgrounds and approaches; as such, all four developed their ideas from a different perspective. The final results were presented from 12th August in the form of a Culture tour organized by Camille Oostwegel Chateau Hotels & Restaurants.
Astrid Mingels, (1987, Maastricht)Visual artist
The cinematic research of Astrid Mingels reflects on the interior and the immediate vicinity of the WinselerHof and raises questions about notions of authenticity and appropriation. The recent restoration of the entrance to the WinselerHof estate returned the gates back to their original historic blue colour. A colour, however, that turned out to be not even a year old. What began as a quest for the origin of the paint, resulted in viewing and analysing traces of an eclectic mix of migrated images and objects: land maps, photographic Italian impressions, and artefacts of farm life in Limburg.
In her (video) collage, Mingels appropriates images and objects in an associative way, which she combines with a voice-over by an African woman who reads, in English, (Art) theoretical texts by Rosalind Krauss and Jan Verwoert. This Zimbabwean lady gave a sculpture workshop 'Afrika Anders' (in Dutch, a play on the word 'Afrikaanders', natives of Africa, and 'anders', other) in the nearby Overste Hof estate and hotel in Landgraaf. The texts address topics such as the role of the avant-garde in art, appropriation, the structure of the grid, originality, rehearsal, and representation.
Kim Bouvy, (1974, Amsterdam)Visual artist, photographer, educator
Kim Bouvy's photo series examines our presumptions in relation to the appearance of the surrounding landscape. In her photographic series of the lush and idyllic nature, an undercurrent of tension exists. In many places, the green ground cover conceals traces of the mining history that characterises the landscape of Central Limburg. As part of her research, she consulted the Limburg Regional Historical Centre archives and old DSM calendars to gain an insight into what once was. This translated into a visual analysis where she zoomed out from the WinselerHof estate to its immediate vicinity. She animates her series by interweaving images of 'real' nature with pictures of nearby large-scale scenic recreational areas, such as botanical gardens, Snow World, Gaia Zoo, and the Mondo Verde World Gardens. Parks seemingly imbued with a particular history, but in terms of meaning they appear to completely ignore such histories. The remains of what was once a landscape of production are transformed into carriers of a new identity, becoming what could be described as style rooms of the new nature. As such, she puts our perceptions and symbolism of nature under the microscope and shows, in a poetic way, the relations and contradictions between constructed, cultivated vegetation and real nature.
Chris Kabel (1975, Bloemendaal)Designer
Chris Kabel's design connects a public path with the farm's garden, the recently constructed vines, and the rest of the estate's 5 hectares of acquired land. His 'poles' are an alternative partition and replace the existing barbed wire enclosure fence. The poles also indicate that the visitor is located on the WinselerHof Estate—a public private property.
On closer examination, the poles turn out to be made from tool handles once used in the mines: picks, shovels, axes, etc. In a nearby business workshop, Kabel found a machine that mills these handles using 'archetypes' from an archive of dozens of original tools. In the same way a door key is duplicated, this machine also follows the form of the original to arrive at a reproduction. With the disappearance of the mining industry, the craft of milling these handles has also disappeared. The company Kabel worked with has been able to continue by producing pallets. Along the path of WinselerHof we see markers made of utility objects whose "functional" iron part is buried. In this way, Kabel captures a slice of local history in a poetic metaphor.
Hans Engelbrecht (1969)Ecological gardener, director of De Groene Stap
Ecological gardener Hans Engelbrecht, focused on several areas of the estate. The mowing pattern on the upper parts aims to enable original vegetation to return and provide the foundation for a pagoda. He also opened up a dense, overgrown area of forest that once blocked the view of the pond. The pond was a product of an employment project in the 1930s and now gives an idyllic allure to the estate. A cleared path to the pond will be constructed using brick remnants from the former bakery, which burnt down and is now in ruins. Clearing the area revealed the swimming pool of the former gentleman farmer and the Strijthager stream. The surplus material stays on the estate, functioning as natural ramparts and an insect hotel.
A branch of an old hazel tree was about to collapse under its own weight but was suspended by Engelbrecht 'to a healthier part of itself'. In doing so, a romantic getaway for two was created, which, in collaboration with designer Chris Kabel, was transformed into a bench and unusual side table.
The participants had limited preparation time for the project, making them especially inspired by the place and environment. The commissions launch the next phase of the project, beginning in autumn 2013. This subsequent research phase is organised in cooperation with Maastricht University (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences). By making the connection with a research institute, this stage will map, in various ways, the narrative and actual history of the WinselerHof and the region. The students' focus will include the history of the monument, the owner and user, the environment (and its fragmented programming), natural and landscape values, and the region's stories from its agricultural and mining past. The outcomes will be translated into artistic and cultural projects in the next phase of the project.
BackgroundThe surroundings of Kerkrade/Landgraaf have a rich history. Since Roman times this region has been a border area. The region is characterized by the different historical developments and the traces they have left. This has influenced the way language has developed, cultural practices, and the formation of the landscape. The effects of industrial and cultural exchanges are still visible but they are not readable to everyone. For example, there is a relatively large amount of Italian restaurants in this region. The Italian owners are often children of former migrants who came to work in the mines. The many ways in which history manifests itself can also be seen in the monuments and buildings. Many old farmsteads can be found in the Kerkrade/Landgraaf area and WinselerHof is one of the oldest.
In the 1980s Camille Oostwegel took over WinselerHof from the Landgraaf local authority. The farmhouse was restored and converted into a hotel and restaurant. In 2013 Camille Oostwegel ChâteauHotels & Restaurants purchased and brought back to life five hectares of ancient croplands, traditional tall trunked fruit trees, flower and herb gardens, and a vineyard with 500 Müller-Thurgau plants.
Camille Oostwegel ChâteauHotels & Restaurants attaches particular importance to historicity and recognizes the value of cultural heritage. To realise the ambition of depicting stories from this region and connecting them to a productive future, a link was sought with the contemporary cultural institutions Marres Projects and Bureau Europa. An assignment has been jointly formulated to examine how the cultural layers of the WinselerHof and the region can be documented and presented.
From their shared expertise in spatial planning, architecture, landscape, and contemporary art and design Marres Projects and Bureau Europa investigate ways to unlock and represent the interesting yet fragmented history of the place. As such, a project is being developed that starts small and grows as it is elaborated upon.
‘Imaged Stories’ project descriptionIn August 2013 artistic interventions begun on the WinselerHof site. These had a specific reference to the place and materialise knowledge in keeping with the existing cultural (and landscape) heritage. Bureau Europa and Marres Projects approached designers and artists to work together with philosophers and historians on the design. The realised plans were presented during a culture tour organised by Camille Oostwegel ChâteauHotels & Restaurants in the week beginning 12 August 2013. This was a prelude to the second part of the project.
In September 2013 research will begin in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. By connecting to a research institute, the narrative and the factual history of WinselerHof and the region is mapped in diverse ways. In this research phase, the students’ studies will include the history of the monument, the owner and users, the surroundings (and its fragmented planning), nature and landscape values, the stories of the agricultural past, and the region’s mining history.
This phase is essential because it lays the foundations for future plans. The analysis of the research provides the basis for the further intertwining of various local, regional, and Euregional partners.
In the next phase, the research results will be translated into a concrete project that is bigger and more ambitious. From the research results the project partners will select some interesting elements for (art) projects to be presented on the WinselerHof grounds. These projects take on a wide cultural perspective and a broad interpretation: art, landscape architecture, but also music or theatre.
In the final phase, plans will be realised in WinselerHof and the wider area. The designers/artists will take inspiration from the locality. As such, visitors will have an opportunity to learn about the rich history of the area in alternative ways through art projects, walking routes or soundscapes. The project’s rich cultural heritage is made tangible, audible and/or visible. After the profound transition from black to green in the 80s – the restructuring and reorientation of nature – recreation and cultural infrastructure can now form the basis for how the area is perceived.
The ‘Imaged Stories’ project is a collaboration demonstrating how cultural institutions and an engaged business community can arrive at a mutual agenda, determine common values, and thus create new relationships.
‘Imaged Stories’ is a project from the Landscape in Perspective programme, an initiative of Marres Projects in collaboration with Bureau Europa/platform architecture, and the Province of Limburg.