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They have an unusual amount of experience building homes, and all of their homes have been photographed for important magazines. They have even raised money and built homes for Saint Georges Crypt, a charity effort to house homeless, recovering addicts in Leeds England were Gilly got to know her needy street neighbors while she walked her dogs early every day and late every night when the homeless are more visible. Gordon Carey is an Architect, and Gilly is retired in radiology. They can move mountains together. And already have.
When we asked if we could do a photo shoot of their incredible home near Umbertide, Gilly informed us it was closed for the winter, and they had moved into the adjacent, much smaller, former tobacco drying tower for the remainder of our dark, cold season. Too much unused space indoors means inefficient heating and unnecessary cleaning to do. They will remain in the smaller house for now, and open the big house at Christmas time when friends and family arrive to reanimate their hilltop paradise.
I was disappointed because I was familiar with their home, and it is something special to experience.
But Gilly immediately suggested we shoot the smaller home despite my concerns that it would not accurately reflect the living environment they had created for themselves. “Aren’t you concerned that my readers won’t know about your larger, amazing home”, I asked? Not at all. They just want to be a part of The Mag’s effort to make our area a more interesting place to live.
These pictures are of the “Winter residence” of Gilly and Gordon Carey here in Central Italy.
The Mag: Do you guys live in these hills year round?
Gilly: We do now, as we just closed on the sale of our home in England. So we are full timers now, although Gordon will still be working all over the world.
The Mag: Did you furnish your two houses with things you shipped here in a container, or did you purchase items locally?
Gilly: We bought a lot of things at Cangi in Città di Castello, our sofa and chairs, a bunch of lamps. Our beds were made by a local ferrorista. When he delivered them they wouldn’t fit past the staircase which didn’t have a banister when the plans for their construction were decided. I was very impressed because in London the delivery guy would have deposited the beds on the floor at the foot of the stair case and disappeared. Here, the artisan cut them into smaller pieces and then re welded them together again in the bedrooms.
The Mag: Tell us a little about your two or three favorite pieces of art here in your home.
Gilly: We have a cute little drawing by Frank Gehry which we are real fond of because Gordon is an architect, and we have an hilarious painting by Don Grant of members from the royal family without clothes on. The pictures are shockingly graphic, but not offensive. The irreverence of them makes you smile. Several of the images are full on, frontal nudity!
The Mag: Why do you have a box lid framed?
Gilly: This darling little embroidered box had a dozen or so unique contributions in it from an equal number of famous people and artists. One hundred boxes were produced, each containing twelve works of art. Fifty of these boxes were sent to VIP’s in England like Elton John and the rest were archived. So they are particularly rare.
The Mag: Since you have one of the boxes that must make you a VIP?
Gilly: Not quite. We got ours because we are friends with the organizer of the project. One of my favorite contributions is a note from Kate Moss with her lipstick kiss print on the message she wrote.
The Mag: What do you think of Arthur Hunter Blair’s work?
Gilly: I know Arthur personally. I think his work is lovely. My daughter is an interior architect (as well as an excellent painter of nudes) and introduced Athur’s work to some of her clients.
The Mag: I see you have a lot of dogs. Do you want to tell us something about them?
Gilly: We have large tough dogs, little lazy dogs, and medium sized energetic ones. But this one here is Ollie. He sort of belonged to a neighbor, but he kept coming around my place. A few years ago my father came here to Italy with a terminal illness. We would care for him here until he died. It was a very difficult time for me as you can imagine. But Ollie took a liking to my dad (and visa versa) and stayed with him continuously day and night (except for time to go out and relieve himself) until my dad passed on. The two of them were inseparable. Ollie made my father’s death tolerable to him and me. Whenever I had to go do the shopping, or run some other errand, I knew my dad always had a dedicated friend beside him. Ever since then Ollie has been an important member of our family.
The Mag: You did an impressive amount of volunteer work in Leeds. Do you do any volunteer work here?
Gilly: I have started helping the Books for Dogs group of dedicated animal welfare volunteers in Umbertide. I bake things and prepare snacks for various events. But in the future, I would like to do something for the Opera Company in Preggio. Maybe we can collaborate in some way Breon?
The Mag: I look forward to it Gilly. I love Opera. And I love your spirit too!
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