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Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa


Corinne Aivazian
Corinne Aivazian,Founder of Casa Julfa and Terra Ancestral .

The moment Casa Julfa came into view, I was enchanted. We've all had those weeks when the urge to escape is overwhelming—to disconnect from everything and simply exist. It's a curious contradiction, this belief that we need to be elsewhere to find peace. Casa Julfa embodies the essence of such an escape, offering more than just a figment of our imagination. It could well transform into a tangible retreat for some of you.


Casa Julfa is not only the cherished home of Corinne Aivazian and her family but also a sanctuary for creatives seeking to rejuvenate and work. The Makers & Thinkers Residency Programme at Casa Julfa provides a two-week haven, inviting residents 'to use the time to create a new body of work, undertake new research, or to work on something neglected or not yet formed'.


I love these sorts of Knock Knocks, where not only do we get to look around a beautiful home, but one or two of you may well get a chance to experience it firsthand.



 


I often find it hard to describe Casa Julfa and how she came to be, because like all good stories (and perhaps my own) hers is layered and intricate.


Casa Julfa is a part artist residency, part family home, part bnb, part pottery, partly shared studios and probably a hundred other things. Still, she is 100 per cent a sanctuary for all of us lucky enough to spend time under her majestic roof.

The building is the first, on one of the oldest streets of Montmorillon, a small medieval town in South-West France, famous for its history of arts, literature, crafts and, more importantly to some than others, a specific kind of almond macaron.


It is the sort of place that looks much the same as it did a couple of centuries ago, and I value this consistency profoundly. Both my paternal and maternal lineages are deeply marked by forced migration, and I recently realized how reassuring I find it to be in a place that changes so little.


The town is enveloped by countryside lined with ancient churches and crumbling roman walls, it's a truly restorative landscape. In fact, rest, repair and restoration are recurrent themes at the Casa, for those who stay here and for the building itself.


Indeed, it was here that I learned about architectural restoration as an act of self-repair. When I moved to the region a decade ago, I had no money and was recovering from a critical illness. It seems obvious to say it now, but when I discovered this neglected building full of faded grandeur and potential, I had an overwhelming urge to resurrect it.


The Casa was constructed in the early 17th century, and the adjacent forge a little later, but she has undergone many, many renovations since then, and not all of them with noble materials.


I do most of the renovations and repairs to the space which basically involves stripping back layers of the past to let her breathe and further reveal herself. For me, the goal was to valourise the various histories of the building whilst also embarking on the big essential works such as the new electric, plumbing and heating system without destabilizing the delicate tapestry that makes her so special.


We try to buy almost nothing new for the Casa. Between the weekly car boots, the town tip and nearby brocantes we are able to find most of what we need. I want my three-year-old son, Ari, who lives here with us, to grow up believing this to be the norm, as I did with my parents - I don't remember either of them ever buying anything new.


We tailor things to fit the Casa and make things as comfortable as possible for those who stay here so that they feel truly at home and can focus on whatever it is that they came here to do.


I made all of the bedding from antique cotton and flax (which was once also produced locally) because we never managed to find anything that was of good enough quality but also affordable. The nature of these everyday items is so often overlooked, but what is more intimate than the relationship between the cool, heavy sheets and hot skin at the end of a long day?


I often think about how much older the Casa is than anyone who has ever lived here or will ever live here, all those lives and histories housed between ancient stone and oak under terracotta tiles. Inevitably, my own history has become intertwined with the Casa; antique Armenian rugs cohabit with the bold wallpapers and hand-silkscreened in the early sixties. Ceramics made by our residency curator, Blue Firth, and myself merge into the raw frescoes painted with local pigments more than a century ago.

With time, the Casa offers more parrales as we discover more of her life, like the fact that between the First and Second World Wars, she operated as a hotel at the exact time that my great grandparents, recently exiled from Persia, set up their own hotel as new immigrants to Calcutta (Julfa is the name of their hometown they left behind)


As with most things at Casa Julfa, there is a kind of poetry, a synchronicity that emerges when we are patient enough to listen. I always say Casa Julfa is a place and a project that makes itself. I call myself the founder of Casa Julfa, but it would be a mistake to say that I created her in any way because it is she who has repaired, re-formed and re-created.


Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Montmorillon

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Clay Studio at Casa Julfa


Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa


Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa

Dohm Ceramics in Casa Julfa
Dohm Ceramics in Casa Julfa

Casa Julfa
Casa Julfa



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