It' been a while since I've written about the Country Fair range of designs, skilfully drawn by John Hanna in the 1950's and as I've been updating the webpages for the table mats and coasters today, I thought it was a good opportunity to re-visit the story.
Macdonald Hastings published the magazines before going on to work as a presenter for the BBC and kept copies, which were stored by his daughter, Clare. She approached me to make some Own Mats from the designs and on setting sight on them I was hooked - who wouldn't be? They are delightful and she and her brother Sir Max Hastings kindly agreed that I could use them within my product range.
Meanwhile, illustrator Nick Asbury of Asbury & Asbury had come across some of the magazines and wrote a piece on his blog about them, wondering who John Hanna was. We have all now contributed to the story and Nick published a piece in Creative Review, assisted in the detail by Max Hanna, who came forward as a result of Nick's original blog post.
John Hanna was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1919 and emigrated to England in 1947 where he met Macdonald Hastings whilst working for the art department of SH Benson. Macdonald Hastings remembered John's style and commissioned him for the launch cover of Country Fair in July 1951, from there the collaboration continued into the late 1950's. John returned to Australia in the early sixties.
Macdonald Hastings summed up the appeal of the images appeal in the 50th issue of Country Fair "Coming from a land of budgerigars and kangaroos, most of the creatures of the English countryside were, to John, unfamiliar. But largely, I think, because as an artist he has looked at them with a completely fresh eye, he has presented them in a completely fresh manner."
irst assignment came from MacDonald Hasting