Elizabeth, who loves to create things – from paintings and wall hangings to furniture and jewellery – had a vision and scrapbooks full of plans to outline what she wanted her home to look like, yet, the idea to put it on wheels came a little later. It was the dilemma that she would have to leave her home behind if she ever wanted to move that prompted her to think out of the box. A movable home was what she needed.
It was by chance that led Elizabeth to the van base that would later become the foundation of her Spanish dream home. “One day, out of the blue my phone rang and a man’s voice said ‘Are you the girl that wants to build a house on wheels?’ I said ‘Yes, that's me...who are you?’ The man told me I didn't know him but he had heard something through a friend of a friend. He went on to tell me that he had an old Mercedes van base and chassis that I could have! I mean wow! So that was the beginning,” she explains.
A friend with a piece of land in the Andalusian countryside offered Elizabeth to build her home on his property, secluded and tucked away from the rest of the world. And even though the new homemaker had never built anything before – apart from a rabbit hutch – she was ready. Hammer in hand, van base in place and scrapbooks by her side, Elizabeth started building her 2.2-metre wide and 3.6-metre high home (to fit legal road requirements). She spent an entire year on the project, which took up every free minute of her life.
“To learn how to build a movable house from nothing, with a very small budget and no previous experience was so much harder than I imagined, both physically and mentally. There were so many times when I wanted to give up! I faced difficulties, opposition, discouragement, disappointment, loneliness and pure fatigue. But when I got to the end....what a feeling! I have my own home that is everything I need.”
Looking at the tiny structure with its fold-up terrace, it is hard to believe how spacious the place is on the inside – it even has a mezzanine level that is home to Elizabeth’s bedroom and her beloved record player. But it is the kitchen that is her favourite spot in the house. “I love how rustic it is,” she says.
The cosy home with its bohemian flair is mostly made from recycled, second-hand objects. A 1000-litre water tank and a gas heater in the back of the house supply the home with warm and cold water. The house currently uses solar power but can be connected to electricity. There is also a gas cooker, oven and hob, a full shower and a composting toilet.
Since moving in, Elizabeth has started 'Eden Whispers' – a workshop-driven project about the house, creativity and freeing people from ‘the way of the world’. Participants come to her little home in the mountains and learn all kinds of things from weaving dream catchers to making Andalusian goats cheese.
“In the future, when I own my own piece of land, I would like to build more dwellings so that people can stay for a few days on creative retreats to learn different artistic and musical skills but also as a peaceful escape from their everyday pressures and the way of the world,” the artist explains.