Practice Makes Perfect : A Creative Retreat in North Devon

Praktyka means ‘practice’ in Polish,” explains Henry Trew. “And that’s something that we’ve been striving for in our lives: that balance between being busy with work, finding time for a personal life, and being able to also develop a creative practice, whether that’s yoga or art. It’s about finding enough hours in the day to do the things you want to do. That’s what we wanted to map onto this place.”

“This place” is a verdant corner of North Devon, where Henry and his partner, Ania Wawrzkowicz, have established a slow-growing eco retreat called Praktyka that offers holiday accommodation, workshops, and retreats.

the heartwood at praktyka, north devon. 9
Above: The Heartwood at Praktyka, North Devon.

Five years ago, the couple packed up their East London lives and went on a research trip across Europe. “We had a loose idea to find somewhere with a bit of land to make a home for ourselves and to set up a project that would bring other people together through accommodation and creative workshops,” Henry explains. “We had a vision, but we didn’t really have a detailed plan.”

Over the course of their journey—which took them through Poland, France, Spain, France, and Portugal—Ania took notes on the places they’d stayed, making a list of what worked in each location. “We always asked ourselves: What was amazing about this place? Why why did it work? What elements would we like to integrate into our future life?” Ania rediscovered the notebook recently and found an imaginary map she’d drawn of what that life might look like. “Seeing it again, I could see how it correlates very closely to what we have created here.”

the heartwood, praktyka. 10
Above: The Heartwood, Praktyka.

In 2019, their journey brought them to the edge of Exmoor, where they found a 19th-century farmhouse with enough land to realize their vision. Work on the project began just as lockdown hit. Over the next couple of summers, when borders were still difficult to cross, the UK experienced a boom in the glamping industry: “It seemed everyone was putting up bell tents and shepherd huts in their garden,” Henry recalls. “We wanted to do something with a bit more thought behind it.”