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Local artist couple prepares for yearlong sabbatical trip to Greece

With all the stress of life, do you ever wish you could drop it all and pursue what you love the most?

If so, then the lives of Chapel Hill residents Bill Neville and Betty Haskin may be an inspiration to you. The duo are leaving Chapel Hill behind and moving abroad to pursue their dreams in Greece. But before they go, they are selling their artwork in an event designed to help raise funds for the trip and empty their studio.

The two-day art show will take place on Saturday and Sunday at their home and will feature his handcrafted furniture, as well as Haskin’s paintings — generally landscapes, by the impressionist style.

The couple said they realized that art is close to their heart, and they intend to focus on art more intensely while abroad. Neville said him and his wife argue a lot about it — as they have different styles — but he also said art has heightened his passion.

“It’s your focus in life,” Neville said. “Seeing someone else do it affirms your focus.”

Neville has been described as a master at producing functional interiors in wood and the objects which inhabit them.

Haskin affirmed this and discussed the awe she felt concerning her husband’s work.

“It’s like a beautiful flair from different worlds that he combines to create these pieces,” Haskin said.

Similarly, Neville discussed that he was excited for this move because of what it will mean to his wife.

“Now she has time to do her paintings. They are absolutely incredible,” he said.

Neville and Haskin have lived in Chapel Hill for 22 years. The idea of such spontaneous traveling is evidently foreign to the couple. In between the craziness of preparation, they look at what is to come in an optimistic light.

Neville described the moving process as an adventure.

“You travel together, you grow together,” he said.

Haskin reiterated her excitement about the opportunity to live abroad, especially in Greece.

“I really love Greece, I have painted there before.” Haskin said.

Still, they are aware of the impending change that will occur.

“Going away is going to change the whole paradigm,” Neville said.

Haskin said that all of the details of their old life will change.

The Sabbatical Sale will allow Haskin and Neville to get that much closer to living abroad. To Neville, it is necessary to sell his works before leaving because he wants the pieces to serve a purpose. He said he is not upset about losing them.

“I’d rather see it somewhere else than in a closet,” he said.

Haskin said she is glad to see the event take place because she believes there will be a large turnout.

“It will be really festive, exciting and celebratory!”

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