Category Archives: The Boating Party

The Boating Party with Michael Koropisz


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of Q&As with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, 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 one of the most important aspects 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 artists view themselves as rebels to society. To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

Perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where is the creativity that will solve the world’s problems going to come from? Including economic and scientific ones?

In this Q&A, I am delighted to welcome artist Michael Koropisz.

I love the way he paints in a classical way yet adds a modern twist that make you look twice.

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Michael Korpisz

What has been your greatest personal or career achievement?

Well, that is a tough one. I have three which were all great achievements at the time, but looking back some outrank others in my present stage of life.

My first great achievement was in 2012 when I was 16 years old. Whilst studying Art GCSE in secondary school, I painted a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and sent it to her as a gift. I thought that was the end of that until I received a reply of gratitude on her behalf from her Lady-in-waiting. I told my art teacher and he surprised me by alerting the headteacher and the local news papers. That day was filled with interviews and photo shoots. I found myself in the newspaper and for a week or so I was recognised in the streets on many occasions and congratulated on my achievements.

My second achievement was winning the prestigious Aon Art Award in which the company Aon (sponsor for Manchester United) leased two of my paintings for their client suite in the heart of London. My works were on display for a year before they were auctioned and sold for a generous sum.

My third is a personal achievement, and the most recent. I spent the year training to be a school teacher. I was doubted a lot by others and endured many hardships but after a year I successfully graduated.

What has been your greatest sacrifice?

My greatest sacrifice was the year I spent training as a teacher. It was something that I highly underestimated, as do many. The job is filled to the brim with paperwork, the hours are very long, and I was intimidated by the staff in my department. I was completely unpaid and struggled financially. Every day in school, I thought of what I could be achieving had I pursued my career as an artist. I am now a full time artist.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

My parents. They have always supported every decision I made and have complete faith in me. I owe everything in my life to them.

Who, or what, inspires you?

History (18th-19th century) is my inspiration for everything; my clothing, my compositions/music, my artworks and interior design. I often believe that I had a past life, as I have had a real connection with historical clothing and furniture from a very early age, and in turn modern clothing and décor feels uncomfortable and wrong to me.

What makes you unhappy?

To see a lack of manners and disrespect to other people and animals.

What makes you happy?

Many things make me happy, but the main thing is music. I, as many, can listen to music for hours and discover new elements whilst being transported into the world of the composer. It is truly the most powerful art form, and we still have no explanation or definition as to why it is so meaningful.

What are you reading?

I do not read many books, but I do read online. I mainly read non-fiction on philosophy, religion, history, physics (time travel theories and astronomy) and the theory of music/composition as well as art.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

I listen mainly to classical music. From my early childhood I adored Baroque music, especially the works of G. F. Handel. However, as I grew older my taste moved to the more comical side of music in the way of operetta. My current favourite composer is Sir. Arthur Sullivan, known for his partnership with W.S Gilbert as Gilbert and Sullivan.

When I play on my piano or harpsichord, however, I cover a vast range of genres from the Renaissance, Classical, Ragtime, Jazz to Pop.

You’re going on a day trip. Where are you going and what is in your ‘day’ bag?

I would go on a day out in the English countryside and find a picturesque spot for a picnic. I would not take a bag, but a car filled with antique clutter. The aim would be to create a ‘show’ which inspires passers-by to hark to the past themselves. I would take a decorating table covered in a linen cloth, gold antique chairs, my gramophone, fine china, tea pots and a croquet set. I would wear my original Victorian clothing complete with my 1880s moleskin top hat and pocket watch.

What’s your favourite film?

Titanic, as the historical accuracy captured by James Cameron is incredible as well as the music by Horner.

What’s your favourite tipple?

Normally water, but on the occasional night out, white wine or champagne.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I have two places.

  1. Last week’s Euro lottery draw with the winning numbers written down.

  2. Victorian London. I would love to spend a week or two there. But not for too long due to the dirt and diseases.

What frightens you?

Ghosts and Death.

What do you do to relax?

I write music. Orchestral scores such as sonatas, operas, operettas and arias.

What do you do when you’re angry?

I go cycling. It really helps me calm down and perks me up for the rest of the day.

What can’t you live without?

Hot water. I shower three times a day.

What’s your motto?

“You cannot sit on a coal mine and wait for the coal to magically come to you. You must go in and dig for it”. This implies that an artist cannot spend his life waiting for inspiration, he must push himself to achieve greatness.

Where is your Utopia?

Upper/Middle-class Victorian England, with its social morals and respect, beautiful clothes, architecture, art and music. Not to mention the lack of car pollution. Though the north of England was probably worse with all that soot and smoke due to the industry.

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

Travel the vast land of North America.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

My college art teacher who claimed I was not an artist as my work was not relevant in today’s society. She was a modern artist and had me disqualified from art. I therefore have no A-level in the subject.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Prince William, so that I could convince him that I should be his court artist for the remainder of his life. Being young, his patronage could be really useful.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on local commissions and extravagant portraits.

What is your ambition?

To spend my life as a painter and change the outlook on the world in a way in which we do not forget the aesthetics and skills of the past but take the best parts from it.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would remove cars. I feel that local communities have broken down because of them, they clutter streets and people would be much healthier and happier without them. Though this would take some time to adjust to. Imagine a world in which everyone walks, travels on horseback, in carriages or cycles.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

  1. G. F Handel (Composer)

  2. Sir Arthur Sullivan (Composer)

  3. Queen Victoria

  4. Franz Winterhalter (Artist)

  5. A passenger from the Titanic- It would be interesting to hear about the night of the sinking in detail.

  6. My father – Being from a very working class background I would love to see his face as the snobbery unfolded.

Though, by the sounds of it, this boating party would consist of me and my father sat with a pile of corpses, as most of the guests are dead.

What would be on the menu?

I think that the guests would be very hungry after not eating for over a century. Therefore, I would serve a meal commonly eaten in the Victorian era, consisting of around 8 courses, as was done at the time.

What question would you have liked me to have asked?

Do you paint on commission? The answer- Yes I do. Though, as I have already mentioned, I would be happy for anyone to contact me regarding personal commissions. I can paint from photographs, although I do prefer a sitting, though this is not always possible if someone is unavailable or far away.

Thank you Michael.

Scroll down to see some of Michael’s stunning work. There are also links to his Facebook and Instagram pages. Plus, two fabulous YouTube videos of classical music he has composed. And, if you like his work, drop him a line. I think he’s going to be a star of the future. Hopefully, not too distant.

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Artist’s biography.

I am a 22 year old artist living in Cheshire, England. Art has always played an important role in my life. I have been painting for as long as I can remember. My mother bought me oil paints and canvases in my very early youth as she clearly saw potential for some sort of talent.

I went on to graduate in 2017 with a degree in Fine Art and Art History from the Manchester School of Art. After that, I graduated again in 2018 with a degree in secondary school teaching.

The theory on which I base my practice is as follows:

We live in the shadows of the past. Some of us try to ignore them and others sentimentally hold onto them. I, however, live within them. Through my studio practice, I debate the ideas of beauty and aesthetical values, based upon the creations of artists, both past and present.

My studio practice falls within the domain of painting as an expanded field. Through my work, what I hope to achieve is a display of context wherein the viewer can critically look through the many layers of history, taking from it fragments that still resonate with today’s society, as opposed to those isolated from an informed or questioning eye.

My current studio practice consists of producing elaborate portraits in oil paints. I see great visual beauty in many realist works. And I question what beauty is? Is beauty mathematical? Is it natural? Why it is that Vermeer’s attention to detail is beautiful? His painting of floor is beautiful. His calculated lighting is beautiful. My work consists of both mathematical and natural beauty. I use many techniques such as the golden ratio and chiaroscuro, but I also follow my minds guidance to produce visually striking work.

My artistic practice is based on this idea of analysing art history and taking from it the most ‘successful’ outcomes to be used in my work.  I do this with my eyes wide open, and with full knowledge and appreciation for modern art, as taught on my current course.

Though, in my portraiture I strive for realism and beauty, I make it clear that I am not recreating new works in a past style, but simply appropriating the techniques of past painters to question class and status. As well as implementing modern ideas and characteristics into my work.

My work displays a combination of artistic skill, aesthetic beauty and a suggestion of humour towards the modern world. An example of this is can be found in my recently painted female nude. I was inspired to paint my model in the style of William Adolphe Bouguereau, a romantic painter specialising in the female nude and painting of angels. However at the sitting, I discovered that my model had some tattoos and piercings. I originally intended to paint them out, however after some thought I decided that is was the beauty of merging a romantic style with the modern day. Rather than to replicate an exact style, I was able to create something new based on the ideas of the past.

Baroque and Classical music interests me also, and through my studies I examine the links between both painting and music. Whilst studying baroque composition, I came across a heavy set of rules just as there are in art of the same period. Music and art seem to intertwine with one another and I am fascinated by how both art forms have the power to correspond with each other.

When I am not working on my artworks, I write orchestral music. I am currently writing a comic opera about a love potion for a full classical orchestra complete. The music is light but in some areas very moving. My dream would be to have it performed by a live orchestra and singers. I wrote both the music and the libretto myself.

Artist’s web links.

My Facebook art page – https://www.facebook.com/mr.koropisz/

My Instagram art page – https://www.instagram.com/m.koropisz.artist/

The overture from my comic opera (performed by a virtual orchestra) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyycbjVluOM

My baroque composition performed by my brother on the recorder and myself on the harpsichord- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGyyBA5J358

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Things I am grateful for #3


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Poetry.

I love to read it and I love to write it.

In some ways, it’s harder than writing a novel as every word has to earn its corn. There’s no room for superfluous wallpaper.

Some poets I admire and love: Raymond Carver, Paul Durcan, Patrick Chapman, Emily Dickinson, Paul Muldoon, Maya Angelou, Siegfried Sassoon, Charles Bukowski, Jorge Luis Borges, Emily Brontë, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Les Murray, Rainer Maria Rilke and Roger McGough, to name a few.

And, if you’d like to read my poetry collection, Let me fail in sunshine, just click on the title.

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Perfection


To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.

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The Boating Party – with Eoin Coveney


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Well, it’s been a while…

Welcome to the first Boating Party interview of 2013.

The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, 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 artists view themselves 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?

First up, in this luckiest of lucky years, is Graphic Artist, Eoin Coveney

Eoin Coveney

Eoin Coveney

What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?

Working with, and being mentored by, the late Will Eisner.

What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

I really can’t think of one. Maybe I sacrificed some of my social life working in a solitary environment?

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

I owe Steve McManus of 2000AD for giving me a meeting many years ago even though it was against their policy.

Who and what inspire you?

European masters of the graphic novel such as  Moebius and Cam Kennedy.
Music and cinema also.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

Drawing a 6- page comic strip written by Gordon Rennie. It was a politics / zombie satire which was a joy to work on.

What makes you unhappy?

Lack of enthusiasm.

What makes you happy?

Trust.

What are you reading?

Nothing right now. My last was “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

Lots of dark ambient right now.

What’s your favourite film?

Impossible to narrow it down. “The Host” is pretty close to perfect.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I’d probably be too worried about getting stuck there so I would stay here given the choice.

What frightens you?

Laziness.

What do you do to relax?

Noodling around on my microKorg.

What do you do when you’re angry?

Scream into a pillow.

What can’t you live without?

I would say music.

What’s your motto?

Keep on learning and improving.

What’s your Utopia?

Probably West Cork in August.

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

Six months frenzied work, three months of traveling and another three months of relaxing with friends and loved ones.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

Probably Damien Hirst because he doesn’t feel the need to manufacture and craft his own art.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Howard Marks.

 What are you working on at the moment?

“American Caesar”, a graphic novel written by Neil Kleid.

What is your ambition?

To work hard on cool projects with brilliant people.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I’d like to turn down the dial on human greed a good few notches.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Fiancée, parents, 3 close friends… no celebrities!

What would be on the menu?

Greek food.

What question would you liked me to have asked?

“What’s it all about?”

Thank you, Eoin.

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Artist’s statement:

I have been illustrating professionally for 14 years. 
For the first ten of those years, I worked mostly on
 the pre-production phase for many of Dublin’s top
 advertising agencies. Producing
storyboards & visuals for hundreds of campaigns.


In 2005  I joined the Illustrators Guild of Ireland,
 and since then have broadened my range of styles 
and disciplines. These days, my work is split pretty
 evenly between illustration for ad campaigns,
 book covers and interiors, press and magazine
 work as well as pre-production work.
 Private commissions also undertaken.

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The Boating Party – with Denis Goodbody


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 radio broadcaster, children’s author, lyricist and all-round communications expert, Denis Goodbody.

Denis Goodbody

What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?

My greatest achievements have all been to do with communicating ideas. We take communication for granted in our society – we assume that all the verbal conversations, physical gestures and expressions we send out every day are understood. When they are not understood, as often as not, we blame the other party.

I help people communicate their messages for a living and I think that has helped me realize the fragility of a ‘message’. When we communicate we are transmitting ideas, the most precious of all commodities on earth. Once upon a time the ‘wheel’ was an idea. “Will you marry me” is an idea. In my day-to-day life I see beautiful, wonderful, precious ideas go up in flames or sink without trace because the people gifted with those ideas failed to communicate it successfully.

On a personal level my proudest achievement is, somehow, communicating to my wife that I’d be a suitable husband. On a professional level my proudest achievement is to have sustained myself and my family doing something I love – having ideas and communicating them.

What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

God I’m fortunate. I could be pompous and say it’s an aspect of my philosophy on life, to say that I don’t look back or I avoid regret but that would be tosh. I’m one very lucky guy. Like everyone, I have reached the sign post and had to choose between busy thoroughfares and roads less traveled and I have usually taken the latter. I have never known what lay through the traffic jams on the busy thoroughfares because I’ve been too busy with the twists and turns on the less traveled ones. Did I sacrifice going out to expensive restaurants and drinking too much in favor of having kids? No sacrifice. Did I sacrifice my dream of the Parisian garret and the great novel? No sacrifice, my attention deficit and wayward ways would have left me starving in the garret with no important unpublished masterpiece left beside by gaunt corpse. The only thing I can think of that I could classify as a sacrifice was selling my extraordinarily beautiful first house but that wasn’t really a sacrifice. It was a groovy bachelor pad and it worked – the honey-trap helped win me a honey. Anything else I miss or regret would be loss, rather than sacrifice, and among those I would count the loss of my father’s life and my mother’s memory but what they have given me far outweighs their loss.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

Well I’ve just mentioned my parents so let’s take that as read. I have also mentioned my good fortune. It was my parents who chose the strange and archaic private education I received and it was my good fortune to have had the most incredible teachers. Nowadays half of them probably wouldn’t be allowed to teach because of insufficient qualifications, inability to speak Irish or whatever. I find it hard to think of one it wasn’t a privilege to learn from and that’s not just a rose tinted rear-view mirror. Oh, they were strict and sometimes sarcastic. One could hit your ear lob with a piece of chalk from thirty feet but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use the skills, techniques and disciplines he taught me. One was a baronet and a racing driver. Another had his face badly burned rescuing a comrade from a tank at El Alamein. Yet another had mysteriously distorted finger nails which, we were led to believe, were the result of being tortured. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of those teachers, among whom I include my parents. As I observe the development of education I worry increasingly that it is becoming merely an ‘information-downloading exercise’ instead of the eye-opening, horizon lifting experience it should and can be.

Who and what inspire you?

Music, visual art, literature and children inspire me because they provide me with ideas and they stimulate the creation of more. Children inspire me because they embody possibility and hope. Seeing children observe things for the first time, trying to see those things as they see them, is a way for the rest of us to rediscover the world for ourselves. The notion that children should be seen and not heard is criminal. Music can speak truth without words, as can visual art. They speak truths in ways that leave everyone to witness their own version of that truth, free of argument or dissent. While I can’t say that of literature, as words are more self-evident, I will say this: fiction often contains more truth than fact. History has to be written from one standpoint from which it tries to recreate events. Fiction, on the other hand, makes no bones about its standpoint and is free to make its point subjectively and clearly without trying to be all things to all people.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

My wife’s singing inspires me, and has done for a good while now, so the last thing? I think The Illustrated Beatles exhibition in Dublin. 42 illustrators digging under the surface of 42 Beatles’ songs and presenting their findings in 42 incredible pictures. As a body of work it combines all of the things that inspire me: Music, visual art and literate lyrics, plus the fact that I heard the songs when I was a child and they helped form my worldview.

What makes you unhappy?

Hatred, war and cruelty and, for the most part, all of those things are borne out of bad communication. If the money that was spent by governments on the development of weapons was spent on finding away to avoid wars, we would have had a solution long ago. The problem is that there is profit in dissent which is why the really evil people in the world are those who foment discord, dividing and conquering for financial gain.

What makes you happy?

As well as music, art, literature and children? Family. When, as adolescents, we distance ourselves from our parents – an evolutionary necessity – we don’t realize how important it is to comeback. I married and bred late compared to many and no day passes without me going dewy eyed at the fact someone as incredible as my wife agreed to marry me, have a child with me and allow me to call the kids she already had ‘family’.

What’s your favourite smell?

Well it’s not napalm in the morning. In fact, the opposite. I love the smell of fresh air in the countryside. It can be a fragrant summer woodland or a winter storm on a beach. If it’s mingled with my wife’s perfume as we stroll together, that pretty much completes the olfactory picture.

What are you reading?

I’m just finishing a book about The Beatles’ visit to Dublin in 1963, a nice context to The Illustrated Beatles Exhibition. My literary weakness? Thomas Hardy. His books conjour the smells I’ve just describe and I think he could have been the world’s greatest cinematographer.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

As well as Carmen Browne? I’m listening to a lot more jazz than I used to but my listening-week is usually ruled by whatever topic I choose for my weekly radio show ‘Roots Musings’. You caught me on a bad week, it was a novelty show about Halloween.

What’s your favourite sound?

Silence. Silence is a canvas and when you have it, you can choose how to fill it. I’m funny that way.

What’s your favourite film?

God that’s hard. Chinatown, probably.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

The beginning.

What frightens you?

Like any parent the thing that frightens me most is the prospect of any harm coming to one of the children and, by extension, to any children or animals. Intentional harm or cruelty to animals and children is the basest and most perverse human behavior.

What’s your favourite sense of touch?

I don’t want to be to graphic about it but having the skin of someone you love touch yours can’t be beaten in my book. And I don’t mean exclusively carnal contact either. I go to the nursing home to see my mother each week and I hold her hand. With her diminished memory there’s very little room for meaningful conversation but that touch says everything we need to say.

What do you do to relax?

Music, literature, visual art and breathing in that fresh country air, with birdsong spattering the silent canvas.

What do you do when you’re angry?

A lot of internalizing goes on which is unhealthy but it does mean I process stuff rather than let go on reflex. I do shout a bit which isn’t pretty as I have a very loud voice to begin with.

What can’t you live without?

We’ve already got music, literature, art, family and fresh air. To that you could add chilli and red wine, preferably consumed Langkawi restaurant on Baggot Street in Dublin. How are you fixed? [You’re on. Next time I’m over!]

What’s your motto?

“Live and let love”.

What’s your Utopia?

I always have to remind people that in Thomas Moore’s original Utopia, they had slaves. This tarnishes the whole concept for me though it does teach me one important lesson. Living your life fairly and without exploiting others, means an element of hard work. To answer the question free of pontification, I would say my Utopia is somewhere in the west of Ireland with all of the things mentioned under the question “What can’t you live without?”

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

I would conquer my attention deficit and finish the novel I didn’t finish in question Two.

What sends your taste buds into overdrive?

Chilli – especially prawns. And I meant that about Langkawi! Mine’s a ‘Sambal Udang’.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

If I were the rocket-suppository-inserting type – and I don’t believe I am – it would have to be Mitt Romney or some other American Tea Party Type. They have no concept or care of the world around them. They are phenomenally selfish. They are racist and intolerant. They embody just about everything the American Constitution – as I understand it – set out to avoid. I know it’s not my country but it is my world they are setting out to destroy. They are no better than the fundamentalists and terrorists they claim to oppose.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Would it be too obvious to say my wife? I have no desire to meet any of my heroes as I wouldn’t want that status diminished by reality. I guess I’d settle for Barrack Obama or Ang San Suu Kyi, both of whom I believe are incredible people.

What are you working on at the moment?

I should be working on a book I’m writing and a couple of advertising projects already overdue.

What is your ambition?

Right now, my ambition is to complete the answers to question 25. Beyond that, my ambition is threefold: finish the novel I started (not the one mentioned above), promote and expand my radio shows listenership, to write more songs with Carmen Browne. Before all of that, however, I’d have to say my ambition is to be the best Dad in the known universe beside which the other ambitions are a piece of cake.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Thomas Hardy, Guy Clarke, Joni Mitchell, Carmen Browne, Barack and Michelle Obama.

What would be on the menu?

Sambal Udang, Sushi and lamb tagine and metzes. We’ll have a couple of bottles of the Chateau Kefraya – failing that, anything else from the Beka Valley.

What question would you liked me to have asked?

Other than what date we’re having that meal in Langkawi? I think I’d like to have been asked to define my concept of God. I am inundated with scientists, atheists, agnostics, fundamentalists and dogmatists telling me that God either does or doesn’t exist. None of them, as far as I can see, have taken the time to describe the God believe does or doesn’t exist. There’s almost 7 billion different concepts of God on this planet alone and I’m not arrogant enough to say that all of them are wrong. In the Judeo-Christian bible there is, I believe, a misprint. Where it says “God Created man in his own image”. The reality is the other way round – we create God in our image.

Thank you, Denis.

My two rascals enjoying Denis' "How the Elk got to the Games".

My two rascals seal of approval of Denis’ “How the Elk got to the Games”.

Denis Goodbody – Biography:

Denis is a writer and broadcaster living in Dublin. The bulk of his career has been spent conceiving, writing and producing advertising. In recent years he has expanded his love of having ideas producing and presenting 2 weekly radio shows, co-writing jazz songs and writing books.

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The Boating Party – with Tone von Krogh


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.
Kiln disasters.

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.

Inspiring snow

Cup and saucer detail

Bowls

Artist’s biography:

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.)

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The Boating Party – with Christelle Jones


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 artists view themselves 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 Bristol based artist, Christelle Jones.

What’s your greatest personal achievement?

It hasn’t happened yet. At least, I hope it hasn’t happened. I want something to look forward to.

What’s your greatest career achievement?

Enjoying my work. When I started art school, I stopped dreading Monday mornings.

What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

I’m too selfish to make big sacrifices. However, I once sold a couple of Beastie Boys tickets, because something had cropped up at work. That wasn’t a sacrifice, though. That was just stupid.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

My parents. I had a great childhood, spent most of it outdoors, stayed up well past my bedtime and I’ve never been in any hurry to grow up.
Also, there are several inspirational Art and English teachers who I wanted to impress.

Who inspires you?

Artists, writers, photographers, directors, musicians, poets, sportspeople, scientists, engineers, intellectuals and comedians. Off the top of my head: Goya, Lucian Freud, Diane Arbus, Carol Ann Duffy, Peter Doig, Peter Cook, Francis Bacon, Paula Rego, Roddy Doyle, Roald Dahl, Bill Hicks, Grayson Perry, Rachel Whiteread, Mark Rothko, Steve Martin, Anish Kapoor, Tim Berners-Lee, Dave Allen, Stanley Kubrick, Leonardo Da Vinci, Ralph Steadman, David Pattern (my art teacher) Annie Leibovitz, Simon Armitage, Bill Cunningham, Bradley Wiggins, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Mozart, Anthony Gormley, David Eggers, Jon Ronson, Jessica Ennis, Nick Cave, David Byrne, Don McCullin, Andy Goldsworthy, Edward Hopper,  I.K. Brunel, Richard Avedon and on and on.

What inspires you?

Workaholics. High achievers. Daft optimists. People who never give up or give in. Google.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

Driving through Wiltshire on an autumn afternoon. The low sun had lit up a field full of hay bales, so there was this patch of bright cadmium yellow set against a huge, dark storm cloud.

What makes you unhappy?

The News. I don’t know what to believe anymore, especially after reading ‘Flat Earth News’ by Nick Davis – an excellent, but scary book.

What are you reading?

I’ve just finished reading Jon Ronson’s Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

At the moment, as I’m writing, it’s the gas boiler. The TV, internet and radio are switched off. When I’m painting though, I listen to 6 Music.

What’s your favourite film?

Withnail & I.  I can quote that film from start to finish. It’s a master class in swearing.

What frightens you?

vigilantcitizen.com and things that make you go ‘hmm.’

What can’t you live without?

Friends, family, laughter and my camera.

What’s your motto?

I saw a great quote in a South Wales sports centre. It said: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

I’d sort out all the boring admin and hire a skip to save friends and relatives the hassle. I’d also like to make a video of myself hiding under a sheet, pretending to be a ghost, that would be played at my funeral to ‘lighten things up a bit’. After that, I’d probably live each day as if it was my last, move to the seaside and eat a lot of great food.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

I can think of several politicians. Guy Fawkes had the right idea.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Greg Davis.

What are you working on at the moment?

3 large canvasses, (I’m still at the sketchbook stage at the moment), and running an after-school art club.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Peter Cook, Grayson Perry, Bill Hicks, Mae West, The Dalai Lama and Dame Ellen MacArthur (well somebody needs to steer the boat).

What question would you have liked me to have asked?

“Do you need a bigger boat?”

Thank you, Christelle.

Sketchbook

Artist’s Statement.

With my recent work, there is an element of unpredictability. I start out with a rough idea, but I never really know what direction the painting will take. Often the painting takes on a life of its own. The trick is knowing when to stop. The loft is full of paintings either under or overworked, that look terrible, or even worse – look OK. It’s so frustrating, but when a painting goes right, it’s the best feeling in the world.

http://christellejones.com/

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