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From Reinder's house of half-baked ideas...

While cycling through our lovely province, Sidsel and I often point at noteworthy buildings going "That's a charming little abode! Wouldn't it be nice to have a studio in there?" The properties we select for this are invariably old gentlemen farmers' houses – castle-sized Saxon barns with sizeable living quarters for the farmer and family and posh façades to impress the labourers with. There's a semi-serious dream of ours, to have a rustically-located workplace for a group of artists, behind this running gag. Sidsel in fact has a serious opening for a suitable property that her parents are willing to back her up on if she wants to buy it. That place, described by Sidsel as a castle, is for sale at a price that you could, at best, buy a broom cupboard for in Amsterdam*); what makes it hard for her to decide about this is that it's back home in Denmark.
Cycling through De Marne today, we saw another promising place that we took a more than usually serious look at. This 19th-century bar, located opposite the church in Hornhuizen, has a lot of space and a good deal of daylight coming through the windows. It could house a studio on the second floor and the bar area could be converted to a gallery.

We've noticed on our trips that a lot of artists do this. Hornhuizen, a small village, already has several galleries. It's not hard to figure out why: the De Marne area is economically disadvantaged so the real estate goes for a much lower price than similar properties elsewhere would. In addition, the area is really, really nice. The rural landscape is wide open - flat without being featureless. Scattered around it are villages that have mostly kept their rural style, with most of the buildings being more than a century old and decaying romantically. The sea is nearby; a short bike trip from anywhere within De Marne will take you to the sea dike where you can enjoy the view of the tidal marshes and be free from the noise of cars. In the silence there, you can hear the sheep (the sea dikes' dominant species) chew and flocks of oystercatchers twitter from near the horizon. No wonder the area's a magnet for artists and for slightly eccentric businesses that wouldn't stand a chance anywhere else.
But there'd also be downsides to living and working there. After a year or so, the relative lack of nightlife and the distance from the city would stop being so appealing. Many of those eccentric businesses and galleries fail or hang on by the skins of their owners' teeth. Country life may seem nice for a few weeks, but it isn't for everyone.

So while cycling away from that interesting little alehouse, I thought it might be better for that place to keep some of its old functionality and become a hotel or a retreat for artists – a place where they could spend a few weeks getting away from it all, recharge their creative batteries and take in some new influences, while continuing to work.

I'm gonna spend some time thinking about that. It just might work.

*) You will have to bring your own broom.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 9, 2005 6:34 PM.

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