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How did it all start?

Elena Dumitru and Eugen-Florin Zamfirescu, a human rights activist and a visual artist - two people with a dream and the will to make it happen...


Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the revolution in our native country Romania, searching for new horizons, young at heart and hoping for adventures, we emigrated to England where together we opened a new chapter in our own journey and metamorphosis.

After nearly seven years on British shores we “metamorphosed” again, this time in Canada. For Elena that meant pursuing a career in human rights and for Eugen-Florin a huge life change from video and photography to monumental oil painting, history of civilizations, astro-physics and quantum mechanics.

​Towards the end of 2017 we realized our apartment in Toronto was all of a sudden small and getting smaller by the day. We were definitely in need of a large space to house all Florin's art as well as our collection of books, furniture, and fascinating objects. We were in need of a new adventure...

A series of fortunate events brought us to the little town of St. Marys, Ontario and to the historical house we now call The Art of Ideas.

We encourage you to follow our website BLOG  for information on new artwork, events and happenings at the gallery, as well as a glimpse into our life through stories, poems and images.

The House - a glimpse at its present...

The House - a glimpse from the past...

In the 1870s, local boosters boasted that more grain was shipped through St. Marys than through any other Canadian town save London and Toronto. At the helm of one of the most profitable grain dynasties was George Carter, whose success is demonstrated in no fewer than four of St. Marys' best houses, all on the same block just off the main street.


This grand home was a wedding gift given by Carter to his daughter Charlotte on the occasion of her marriage to Henry Lincoln Rice in 1881. From 1905 to the 1950s the Sparks family lived in the home. Dr. Thomas Sparks and his family named the home, “Ercildoune”, after the town in Scotland in which Dr. Sparks was born. Dr. Sparks also received distinction as a poet throughout his lifetime.

Dating back to the 1881 the house is an example of the Italianate style that was popular in late 19th century house building inspired by the Second Empire Movement. Most Italianate homes were two–storey brick structures, often surmounted with a mansard roof, which can be seen in this specific house. However, this house is different in the sense that it is a one-storey brick structure with a mansard addition. Most of the details are closer to the ground, which allows observers to look more closely at the intricate ornamentation. The house is quite grand in its appearance with its central tower, wrought iron widow’s walk and intricate fretwork around the veranda made from a combination of oak and gumwood from India.


The architect responsible for building the home was William Williams.

Archive photography courtesy of St Marys Museum, St Marys Ontario.

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