Home Is Where The Art Is

Why do I love my job? Is it because I get to meet some fascinating people? Or is because property finding lets me see round some fabulous houses? This week, the answer to both of these questions is a definite and enthusiastic yes!
When you look at a property, particularly if it’s an older house, creative imagination is a real asset. Being able to see beyond its existing state and recognise the potential that lies beneath can help people to make what can prove to be life changing decisions.
Eileen and Walter Haddow are one couple who show just what can be achieved when personal vision is combined with a lot of hard work and determination. As far as inspiration and vision go….they have both in volumes! In the four years that they have lived in the Charentaise town of Civray, they have not only transformed an old barn into an attractive addition to their property, they have also created a thriving gallery and arts centre that now lies firmly at the heart of the community.
During our short visit, several people – both French and English -visited the Grand Galerie either to ask for help with a problem or to discuss details of a forthcoming artistic event (and this was on a Monday when the gallery is actually closed!). Within this tastefully restored space, artists from around the world come to exhibit everything from jewellery to sculpture, photographs and water colours. The ground floor, meanwhile, hosts: a charming cafe with menus in both French and English, art classes, musical events, an internet cafe and book exchange to name but a few. It is clear that, not only have Eileen and Walter developed a thriving business, they have also made a real impact in promoting the arts. Looking around, I could easily have spent a small fortune on any number of objets and only the presence of my other half halted my speculations about how I could manage to combine property finding with running a gallery!
Walking from the sunny front courtyard (a setting for numerous community events) into the artistically furnished townhouse that the Haddows have made home, their creativity and love of the arts is evident everywhere. Even though circumstances mean that they intend to sell the Grand Galerie, you can tell that they have no intention of quietly retiring! Walter’s eyes gleam as he talks of travel plans and they both enthusiastically explain the possibilities that could be realised if a deal to buy an adjoining plot of land succeeds.
Whatever Eileen and Walter decide to do, their warmth and energy will be sorely missed by their community. Although no one can provide a sure fire recipe for success when moving to France, for my money, their combination of imagination, hard work and enthusiasm are a great model to follow.

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