How it all began....
Updated: May 7
Ross Hansen and I were living in London and had been visiting France for several years. Together we started to form a plan that would involve relocating to a place with a thriving national arts scene and much more space to make work in, than we would ever have access to in London.
In 2017 we took the plunge and decided to move from Walthamstow to rural France. We were looking to set up a contemporary art studio, with a focus on painting, that was big enough to invite other artists to. Not believing in half measures we first went somewhere really rural. The Limousin, which is in the centre of France. Mistakes were made along the way! Firstly, taking all our stuff with us to a rental we had only seen online. How bad could it be? A dilapidated chalet, whose owner lived abroad, proved to be prone to fire and flood! Neither of these I hasten to add were our fault but down to ancient, faulty installations. Luckily we managed to escape relatively unscathed, and were welcomed into a beautiful gite, by a wild river near Felletin, in the Creuse.
A Slow Process
Four months into our new life, we were however no closer to finding a place to settle. We ended up looking at 91 places altogether. These covered quite a huge area! Whilst many were in the Limousin, we also went down to the Aude, the Lot and we also looked at five places in the Nord- Pas-de-Calais. We rapidly realised that most places needed an enormous amount of work, that would take the two of us about a decade, and leave no time for making our own work. At this point I have to take some responsibility and admit that many of these places were ones I had romanticised, but were completely impractical. A burnt out shell of a cottage (you could still smell the smoke) with huge barns and a lake that sparkled in the sunshine, springs to mind. Bearing in mind the Correze, where this property was, was so bitterly cold during winter that it was called little Russia by invading troops during the Second World War, should have sounded some alarm bells.
A New Area
Eventually we realised that the Limousin was too isolated for us, and we took a break from looking at places and concentrated on working for six months. We were almost set to move back to the UK, when Ross found an advert for a house in Southern Burgundy. It was described as having a back building, and the main part of the house even had central heating. There were not even photos of the back-building and the house looked a little forlorn, but we still decided to take a trip and visit it. Looking at the map it became obvious that it was much better connected to major cities. It is quite close to Lyon and the train to Paris takes 1 hour and 35 minutes from Macon Loché. If anyone is looking to do a studio visit, it is also just off the A6 (autoroute du soleil) motorway that runs from Paris to Lyon.
We arrived in the small village of Beaubery, which is in cattle country, near Charolles (of the famous Charolais cattle). Like quite a few others before us, we pulled up in the carpark that overlooks the valley and fell in love with the view. That wasn't all, the back building, whilst still in a very rough state, was a great size, and the sellers had created an opening in the stone wall and the same amazing view beckoned. We first saw the house in October of 2018 and on Christmas eve, we moved in. We ended up sleeping on a mattress in the new studio space, (which had a window and insulation by this point) I woke up 7 am the next morning, it was still dark outside and the sky was covered in stars.
It was and continues to be a magical place.
Our house and studio, before and after pictures...
An Additional Space for 2023
In an exciting new development, we have added an additional studio space on the ground floor. I will create a dedicated post for this space, but in the meantime here is a sneak peek.
Stay in the loop and click on the link below to be notified of new posts.