C.C. O Hanlon and his wife, Given, are two of the internet's most cherished unconventional travellers. For the past three years, thousands have followed their unlikely journey across Europe and north-west Africa in search of somewhere they might be allowed to settle.
Confronting old age and ill health, unexpected poverty and homelessness in the midst of the strictures of the pandemic, in January 2021 their search was finally granted a stopping place. With the financial support of friends and family & more than 250 Twitter followers the couple acquired a ruined stone house in a village on Puglia's Salento Peninsula, in southern Italy.
Where it has ended up is the point of this appeal.
Stopping place (n.) somewhere to pause, to reflect and renew energy and recover creative focus
From the start, the intention was not just to create a home for themselves, somewhere to come to rest, but to offer some of the scores of artists they knew, whose work was often affected by housing and financial insecurity, a place to stay and work in southern Italy at little cost, for periods of up to a month.
The fabric of the house is now sound. But there is still much to do to furnish it and make it a comfortable, inspirational living/working space that serves the creative needs of everyone who passes through it.
It is also hoped that it will serve as a hub for exhibitions, chamber performances, and workshops in that part of Puglia.
At the heart of this project are, of course, C.C. and Given themselves. A charismatic couple in their 60s, they had lived several different lives all over the world before old age, illness, and "economic statelessness" pushed them to become nomadic. They have a lot to share — including hard-won knowledge about the uneasy marriage of creativity and business.
I am hoping that not only other artists will rally — again — to support this appeal but they will also be joined by many who are not creative but who admire dreamers, eccentrics or iconoclasts — or as C.C.’s wife, Given, describes them, "Wanderers, outsiders and fools” — and appreciate how they help make better worlds for all of us.