We are an international couple: Phil being Welsh, Karin Canadian– and currently reside in Dubai, UAE while planning to build our artist retreat in Bulgaria. Our life together as a couple has always involved travel beginning with a 2year bicycle trip from Inuvik in the NWT, Canada to Central Mexico. It was the journey of a lifetime that we have yet to surpass. One of the greater challenges of the trip was finding a way to pack and carry on the bikes: a tripod, camera equipment, water-colour paper and paints and the myriad other paraphernalia that Phil just couldn’t be without…never mind tent, sleeping bags, stove and other lesser important items!
Images, art and creating art have always been a mainstay in Phil’s life. Upon completing his formal education, he pursued a Higher Diploma in Illustration from Wrexham College in North Wales. Working briefly in London for a Graphics company, Phil met Karin with her bicycle and so began a life of travel and creativity. Completing their bicycle trip, they both returned to studies at the University of Calgary, AB Canada…Phil to complete a BFA in both Drawing and Painting and an MFA in Painting…Karin to complete degrees in Psychology and Education. They added three children to their lives together during these years—just to keep student life interesting! Phil free-lanced as a muralist and exhibited his paintings with several galleries in Western Canada to pay the bills.
Upon graduating, Phil was offered a job as a professor of Design, at the brand new American University of Sharjah, UAE (same country Dubai is in), and the opportunity to once again travel and still create could not be turned down. During the 17 years of teaching for AUS, Phil broadened his interests further in photography and digital media while at the same time becoming passionate about teaching. Karin furthered her own teaching career during this time as a learning specialist for children with learning difficulties. At the same time, life in the UAE offered plenty of opportunity for travel to novel and far off places and a family oriented environment in which to bring up our three children.
However, with the children grown, we now prepare to embark on a new journey, this time attempting to bring the world to us rather than venturing out ourselves. Having finally found an idyllic location in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, complete with four beautiful, derelict stone buildings, we are now beginning the process of transforming these old stones into a retreat for artists of all disciplines. We look ahead to a future surrounded by beauty and by free-spirited, creative individuals who also relish in the beautiful outdoors!