Greek-American Eileen Botsford has been an established and dynamic member of the Athens and international art scene throughout her adult life, and her husband Edward Maitland-Makgill-Chrichton spent many years in the UK and later in Athens working successfully in the hospitality industry and specialising in wine. The duo, who are also parents to three children, are one of those inspiring examples of savvy urban couples who decide to leave city life behind them and move permanently to a Greek island.
When asked what the main appeal of island life is to the couple and their family, Botsford says: “Distances are 80% shorter, therefore, things get done much faster, almost every day we can see the sky and every night the stars, we can swim until late fall, my children are absolutely free, they spend most of their day outdoors and they enjoy the same after school activities a city child would enjoy. I don't feel that as a family we are missing out on anything. Life has its stresses anywhere you live but here one seems to able to deal with them. I think its the sea and the humane scale the island functions within.”
The move to the beautiful and culturally vibrant Cycladic island of Syros has not only offered them a rewarding sense of comfort, stability and the joy of communing with nature and living in a smaller, friendlier community but has also resulted in both of their careers blossoming in their favoured directions. “I am one of those people who belong nowhere and everywhere at the same time,” Botsford says. “I was brought up by an international family and I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. My Greek routes go back to an old Greek family from the island of Syros, who had textile factories there and in Athens during the late 1800s up to the mid-1900s. I was born in Greece and although I have lived in various countries, as a child I as was primarily brought up in Greece and in specific on the island of Syros, where I lived between the ages of 11 and 15.”
Botsford, who actually met her British husband in Syros at a young age, works as an artist in her own right in solo and group exhibitions and has also been teaching art to children and adults for a decade. Living on Syros, she has launched two new projects, one aimed at kids and the other at women.
“On the island of Syros I founded in 2017 the Art Education Network of Syros island, which runs art education programmes for children and adults, free of charge,” she says. “It has been an amazing journey running this network and I have been extremely fortunate to be collaborating with talented and above all giving artists and art theorists as well as to have been given a wonderful home for ΔΕΕΠΣ at the Poseidonia Club,” Botsford says. “For the past year I have also been working on a fascinating community art project called The Art of the Woman, in which I work with 4 groups of women all from different backgrounds and walks of life, two groups are on the island of Syros and two in Athens. This is a collaboration with the Vardakeios School of Ermoupolis, an institution which I respect hugely and Melissa Network, an incredible place I call home.”
Meanwhile, since moving to Syros, her husband Edward has realised the life-long dream of creating his own winery, which has proven a great success on the local and global map. “The Ousyra Winery is an Organic Winery specialising in wines made from rare Cycladic indigenous varieties,” says Maitland-Makgill-Chrichton. “Our White Serifiotiko wines have been received very well in Greece and abroad. Our Fokiano Rose wines were what really put us and Syros island on the fine wine map. Making wines is a wonderful way of life, which sees us and the children work with nature and create something that represents the Greek islands. It's a very personal business and no two days are the same. It's a privilege to wake up enjoying what you do.”
*Read more about Syros on Greek City Times-