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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 Mari-Ruth Oda


The boating party interview, mari-ruth oda, there is no cavalry

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?

I hope a brief glimpse into their lives is as inspiring to you as it is to me.

This third installment features sculptor and ceramic artist, Mari-Ruth Oda. I first met Mari when she very kindly donated a couple of pieces of her work for the Japan Art Auction I held to raise money for the victims of the tsunami.

the boating party interview, mari-ruth oda, there is no cavalry

Mari-Ruth Oda

What’s your greatest personal achievement?

Feeling happy today

What’s your greatest career achievement?

I am yet to experience this… I guess so far would be that I am still doing what I do.

What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

I don’t think I have made any great sacrifices…

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

Too many to list individually but everyone who has ever encouraged me to be who I am.
All my friends and family, everyone who has ever bought my work or promoted it in any way, everyone who has inspired me.

Who inspires you?

Leonard Cohen, the artists/musician collective around me, Richard Serra, my friend Junko Mori, and lots and lots of others.

What inspires you?
Natural forms, nature, feeling of reverence.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

Looking at a piece of cow hip bone at my studio today. The grace of the form, such subtlety, such simplicity, such complexity, the beauty…sigh.

What makes you unhappy?

Not having my own time/space

What are you reading?

I have several books on the go but yesterday I started reading the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

Currently on my ipod shuffle: Leonard Cohen, Eckhart Tolle audio books, Kirsty Almeida, Alabaster dePlume, Honeyfeet, Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six, John Cage, Kirsty McGee, Joni Mitchell, the Flaming Lips and Ríoghnach Connolly.

What’s your favourite film?

Tony Takitani, My neighbour Totoro.

What frightens you?

A swimming pool when I am the only one in it…

What can’t you live without?

Friends and solitude.

What’s your motto?

I see the next question covers my new motto.

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

Exactly as I am doing now, only a bit faster. I have been asking myself this question continuously for the last couple of months.

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

I’d quite like to stick it up mine so that I stop faffing and just DO. It will make me fly really bloody fast.

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

Leonard Cohen.

What are you working on at the moment?

An Arts Council funded research and development project that will culminate in an exhibition which will take place at Ashton Central Gallery from November 2012-Feb 2013. This is very new work for me. New medium, new scale, new context.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Leonard Cohen, Richard Serra, James Turrell, Aung San Suu Kyi, Eckhart Tolle and Dr. John Hagelin

What question would you liked me to have asked?

Certainly not another one that I would have to give Leonard Cohen as an answer!

Thank you, Mari-Ruth.

Artist’s Statement.

In nature, form seems to repeat itself in differing context and scale. I enjoy abstracting a form out of its context and boiling it down to its bare essence that first attracted me to the form. The shape left is something ambiguous that could be interpreted in many ways.

I am increasingly influenced by the idea that all things are one, made of one unifying energy, which is at the core of everything. Essentially, the shape of waves or plant forms or our bodies that we see, are made of energy. The divide between the internal and external self is a perception that our minds create.

Since our perception is determined by our past experiences and preconceptions, what a form represents to us can be unique to each of us. Therefore my work’s identity is something the observer determines and it is the experience of viewing that give my work its meaning.

Corinthia 1 by Mari-Ruth Oda

Corinthia 2 by Mari-Ruth Oda

Seats by Mari-Ruth Oda

Wavelength by Mari-Ruth Oda

A space inbetween by Mari-Ruth Oda

Bony Holes by Mari-Ruth Oda

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