Country Living Spring Fair: Guy Foreman

Following on from my interviews with Eli Ofir and Alexandra Woods earlier this week, I’ve had an opportunity to ask Country Living Magazine’s Head of Shows a few questions. Guy Foreman gives a heads up on what not to miss if you’re planning to head over to Islington for the Spring Fair next week.

LLO: As the Head of Show with all of the insider info on the Country Living Spring Fair, which five exhibitors, theatre, workshops events, etc would you say are definitely not to be missed?
GF:
There’s loads going on, covering a huge variety of different subject matter, from biscuit decorating to beadwork and everything inbetween. After the success of our craft theatre at our Christmas Fair last year in Scotland, we’ve introduced an area specifically for craft demonstrations where visitors can follow experts as they make things by hand, and then take home a little piece of the fair with them.  

There’s two theatres full of great stuff to see and do.  It’s very difficult to choose, but two of the five talks I’ll definitely be down the front for are the two that our editorial team are running: Hester Page, our Houses Editor, will be talking about Creating the Country Living Style on Thursday at 2pm and Alison Walker, our Food Editor, will be running a workshop on Easter gifts on Wednesday at 1pm.  Both Hester and Alison are instrumental in creating the fantastic editorial that makes the mag so beautiful, and I’m sure visitors will be flocking to each talk.  

As for the other three I would choose, as I’m in the process of trying to build my own house, I’ll be interested to hear Hugo House of Green Energy talking about “How to go off Grid” on Friday at 10.45am, and for some Saturday afternoon entertainment, I’ll be watching our Charity of the Year – the Woodland Trust, run their take on “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” – “Who wants to be a Treeillionaire.”

Finally, just for some Easter inspiration, I’ll be looking for plenty of samples from the Auberge du Chocolat as they talk about Easter chocolate ideas – something that’s running everyday.  

LLO: What is the most unique aspect of this year’s show?
GF:
Every year the show is different – with plenty of new exhibitors to see. For me, it marks the passing of winter and the start of days getting longer and lighter. This year, I’m particularly excited about the magazine’s Silver Jubilee. We launched in 1985 and our June issue marks our 25th birthday, but celebrations are in full swing already; our main campaign is entitled “Your Countryside Needs You”, and is all about how people can get involved in local projects and initiatives that support communities on a local level.  We’ll be talking about that a lot at the Spring Fair.

LLO: How about lunch? What’s on offer at the food hall this year?
GF:
Loads.  Plenty to try and sample, and far too many to list, but my recommendations would be the Handmade Scotch Egg company – a brilliant take on a British deli staple, biscuits and cakes from the Little Rose Bakery, washed down with a tipple from Chase Distillery – vodka from Herefordshire.

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Country Living Spring Fair: Alexandra Woods

In case you missed yesterday morning’s post, I’ve been given a cool opportunity to contact a few people involved with this year’s Country Living Spring Fair, happening in Islington from March 24-28. 

This is Alexandra Woods: illustrator, painter and designer. Her work has a real country living flair that fits in perfectly with next week’s exhibition. She’s given us a bit of insight into her inspiration, let us know what to expect from a visit to her booth and shared a few photos of her work.

LLO: Tell us a bit about your contribution to the Country Living Spring Fair; what sort of products will you have on sale?
AW:
 A selection of my art, design and illustration range is showing at the Country Living Spring Fair 2010 including a new collection of designs printed onto household items. With a continued interest in good food and sound husbandry with a love of the countryside, I specialise in portraits of British farm animals, capturing the essence of their spirit. Combining skills sharpened through successful completion of Bachelor and Masters degrees in Textile Design and Illustration, I also transform observations of everyday objects into striking designs printed onto household items.

LLO: Your work is inspired by the British countryside and farm animals. Where is the best place to go for a taste of that lifestyle while still in London?
AW:
Early studies for the bovine portraits were made at Petersham Meadows, nestled between the foot of Richmond Hill and the Thames towpath.

LLO: Are there any other artists exhibiting at the fair you are especially looking forward to seeing?
AW:
As a new exhibitor to the fair, I am looking forward to seeing the wide range of art created under the shared theme of the countryside.

For more of Alexandra’s work, see her website: www.alexandrawoods.com
For more information on what to expect the Country Living Spring Fair, click here and watch this space.

If you’re interested in checking out the fair, Little London Observationist readers have been offered a special ticket price of £10.50 (instead of £15 at the door). Just ring up the ticket line no later than 1pm the day before heading down and quote “CL134″. 

Tel: 08448480160

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Country Living Spring Fair: Eli Ofir

I’ve been given a cool opportunity to contact a few people involved with this year’s Country Living Spring Fair, happening in Islington from March 24-28. Come back for more later this week.

This is the talented Eli Ofir, who creates portraits of houses in ink, pen and pencil. He’s taken a few minutes to tell us about what to expect from his work on show at the fair, show us a few samples and talk about a gentleman who mentored him for 20 years and still influences his work today.

LLO: Tell us a bit about your work and your contribution to the Country Living Spring Fair.
EO: I create hand-drawn, black & white, detailed portraits of town and country houses, done in pen, ink and soft pencils.

I become very emotional and excited when I draw a beautiful house. The fine detail of the pen work takes me on a magical journey where the history of the house is revealed with every brick and stone that becomes immortalised. The uneven lines of the roof, walls and beams just deepen this mystery. This is why I slightly enhance these elements to bring out the warmth and personality of the house. This ‘gentle twist to perspective’ is unique to my style and artistic signature. It transforms a house into a piece of art that tells an ancient story. Most properties do not need anything more than the slightest twist, as they are uneven anyway. One thing is certain though, my work is never a Blueprint of a house…that is something an architect would do.

My passion for magnificent houses grows by the day. This is why, whenever possible, I visit the house myself to take photos and get a feel for its personality. I love to meet the owners and hear their stories about the house and its history. When a house is too far away for a visit I ask the owners to take lots of photos from as many angles as possible. This gives me a good feel for their house and, just as importantly, the way they feel about it.

Some houses are not that old or they are even newly built, but they tend to use old styles of a specific era of English architecture. Those houses are interesting and beautiful on their own and I like to investigate what styles have influenced their planners. The majority of properties I work with have lots of interesting angles so many clients commission two or more elevations. Sometimes I draw three, four or even five portraits of the same house. I scan these onto a CD so that, as well as having an original work of art, owners can also print off letterheads, greeting cards, placemats or any other stationary prints they desire. 

LLO: You were trained by a Russian painter by the name of Meir Appelboim. How does his influence continue to be seen in your work today?  
EO: I was greatly inspired by Meir Apelboum, an elderly Russian artist whom I befriended whilst volunteering on a community program at school. He became a grandfather figure to me for over 20 years, until he passed away in 1999. He taught me a huge amount; in particular, a strong awareness for perspective and detail without impinging upon my openness of mind and spirit.

In every portrait I do today, there is a part of Meir there. His soul, his good eyes and smile are embedded in my work. (Thank you Meir…!)


LLO: Which piece are you most proud of any why?
EO:
I love all my portraits and some times have a difficulty letting go of them, as if they are my babies. One of the portraits I love is ‘The Old Cottage’ in West Sussex. It just has all the beautiful elements of an old country house. Its proportions and composition is close to perfect in my eyes and I keep a copy of it hanging on the wall in my studio.

For more of Eli’s work, see his website: www.homeportraits4u.co.uk
For more information on what to expect the Country Living Spring Fair, click here and watch this space.

Also, if you’re interested in checking out the fair, Little London Observationist readers have been offered a special ticket price of £10.50 (instead of £15 at the door). Just ring up the ticket line no later than 1pm the day before heading down and quote “CL134”. 

Tel: 08448480160