Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, designers and the like.
In times of economic hardship the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are the most important aspect of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many people view artists as rebels to society.
To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.
And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?
This week, I’m delighted to welcome ceramic artist, Tone von Krogh.
Tone on the wheel
What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?
In some ways I feel I’ve not reached the point of my journey where I’m counting my achievements. However, being able to do what I love on a daily basis is my highest achievement as much as work in constant progress.
What’s been your greatest sacrifice?
I don’t think I have made many sacrifices. I moved to a new country to follow my love for ceramics and dream to take it further. I found another love which meant I settled here. At times it is hard to live far away from close family, but I have my own little one now…
When baby number two came along, I put the ceramics a side for a for a while. It felt like a hard decision to make at the time, but we were starting a build a total house renovation, so something had to give. When, after 3 years, the girls were both at school and I could move into my brand new garden studio, it felt like I had never left my business. I wouldn’t have missed those years with my girls for anything in the world.
To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?
I’m sure there will be many more than I remember to mention here.
One of many, is my tutor at college in Norway, Peer Bjarne Moen for encouraging me to be me and express it in my work. I would not have followed my dream so confidently without his faith and push.
My family and friends for their continuous support, encouragement, patience and help.
Fellow designers and artists for networking, inspiration and critique. And, of course, to all the galleries who promote my work.
Who and what inspire you?
The material clay itself really inspires me. The softness, its ability to take whichever shape you squeeze it into as well as the transformation from clay to ceramics.
I have always had a strong love for Scandinavian – and particularly Norwegian – woodlands and coastal landscapes. My current collection “Vinter” is directly inspired, as the name suggests, by winter and snow covered landscapes. The shapes are soft with indentations and bulges added to hint at something under the surface. After a heavy snow fall, all sounds are muted and objects become unrecognizable with sharp edges rounded. In a landscape, a bulge in the snow may cover a rock or a small tree or a man-made object.
It is this feeling of mystery, or lack of obviousness, that I am trying to express in the surfaces of my pieces, despite the main shape of the piece suggesting a certain function.
What was the last thing that inspired you?
Little things inspire me all the time. A fairly recent moment was earlier this year whilst celebrating my 40th birthday in Switzerland. My partner and I were taking shelter in a mountain hut from a blizzard outside. Through the window I could see these amazing ridged snow swirls forming. I ran out and took lots of pictures with my phone as the folds continuously changed shape. I have been trying to achieve the same effect in my work ever since.
What makes you unhappy?
Hatred, unfairness, ignorance…. Unhappy children.
What makes you happy?
Good music, creating, sunshine…. Happy children.
What are you reading?
In a normal week I’ll be lucky if I get to read the Observer on Sunday. The last time I read a book was in the summer holiday. Solar by my favorite author Ian McEwan. Not a typical book for him, I laughed out loud several times, which is rare when I read any of his books.
Who, or what, are you listening to?
I listen to anything from Melody Gardot to Muse… depending on what I do. In the studio I listen to Xfm which gives me a daily dose of The Cure and lots of other old favorites. I went to see Django Django live last week. They were so much better live than I expected.
What’s your favourite film?
Difficult to choose. I don’t watch many films twice because I hate repetition and knowing what happens…. One of the few that I don’t mind watching again is Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s – Amelie.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To a hot summer’s day….
What frightens you?
Anything happening to my children that I can’t make better. Not being able to do what I do due to ill health or other circumstances.
What can’t you live without?
Oxygen, water, nutrition and love.
What’s your motto?
Do what you love rather than what you think others want you to do. It will make you a lot happier and creative in the long run.
If you only had one year to live what would you do?
I would do what I do now for most of the year and then throw a big party for my family and friends.
Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?
Anyone moaning around me or getting in my way the next few weeks. I’m so busy getting ready for shows between now and December. Tolerance levels are low.
Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?
The thought of being stuck in an elevator should have been one of my answers to question twelve. Can’t think of anybody making that situation any better except for a lift engineer or escapologist. I am not good in confinement of any kind.
What are you working on at the moment?
This is my busiest time of year. I am getting ready for 3 big shows (http://issuu.com/lakesideartscentre/docs/lustre2012 , http://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/craftfair/index.htm , http://www.madebyhand-wales.co.uk/) all in November, as well as making work for Christmas exhibitions and general gallery top up. I spent the whole day on the potter’s wheel today making vases and bottles. I also started playing around with some new ideas for lamp bases. I may be under time pressure, but I still love being in the studio making all day.
Which six people would you invite to your boating party?
Only six? I would fill the lake with boats and make sure all my best friends and fellow makers were there. Toe Rag would be a good band to invite for the musical entertainment.
What question would you liked me to have asked?
I’m quite happy to stop before I rant on even more…. Some tricky questions there already.
Thank you, Tone.
Cup and saucer detail
I was born in Switzerland, but spent most of my childhood and college years in Norway. In 1994 I came to England on an exchange program with Manchester Metropolitan University and graduated in 3Dimensional Design in 1995. After years of having studios at various art centres, I now work from a purpose built studio in my garden.
My work has been widely exhibited in the UK as well as Norway, France, USA and Dubai. The work is also sold through the website www.madebyhandonline.com
My current collection of contemporary domestic Ceramics is strongly influenced by my impressions from the winter landscapes in Norway. When the snow covers trees, rocks, paths and architecture; sharp edges become soft and everyday shapes may become unrecognizable. I have tried to bring the same feel to my work with a range of wavy vases and softly distorted beakers, bowls and bottles. The colour range is reflecting the many tones of snow and ice and winter skies.
The work is produced using a potter’s wheel, but then cut and reassembled to non circular shapes or given soft dimples or bumps. I use food friendly glazes and fire the work to stoneware temperatures.
Ed: (Top tip, if you visit her webpage and decide to buy lots of her lovely work, her first name is pronounced: Torna.)