Simply Cheshire: A conversation with Dionne Swift & Tone von Krogh

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Simply Cheshire will be returning to Arley Hall and Gardens near Northwich for a second year, showcasing a selection of Cheshire’s talented, independent designers, makers and producers. We’ve often heard makers say that it can be hard exhibiting in a show’s first year, but the first Simply Cheshire was clearly a success because madebyhandonline makers Tone von Krogh and Dionne Swift will be returning and showing their work there again on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st May.

Tone is a ceramicist making beautifully tactile, wheel thrown tableware and home accessories from stoneware clay. Textile artist Dionne works in an exciting abstract and intuitive way, using stitch and paint to make scarves, lampshades and contemporary embroideries and drawings.

They’ve been working together on collaborative pieces for a while now and so we asked them to tell us a bit about their work, as well their love of the Simply Cheshire show….

“Tone and I have known of one another for over 20 years,” explains Dionne, “But it wasn’t until shows and events started to coincide five or six years ago that we got to know each other that bit better. We’re attracted to the aesthetic in each other’s work. We took part in each other’s open house and open studio events and realised our work sat beautifully together and was so easy to display side by side.

Tone developed a beautiful range of hand thrown lamp bases with her signature indentations and undulations, but she struggled to find the right lampshade.”

“It felt wrong to put a mass produced lampshade on a handmade base,” Tone remembers thinking.

“I was keen to create something that would marry with Tone’s skills. My first lampshade offering was and still is the most popular of the Horizon collection: Duck egg blue with soft grey tones and plenty of textural stitches.”

“Our collaborative work continued from here with installations and compositions inspiring two dimensional work”, explains Tone. “I think the way we inspire each other’s work is ongoing. It may be more subtle recently, in slight changes of colours, lines or surface textures.”

Tone goes on to describe her experience of the Simply Cheshire event… “Simply Cheshire was a great event for meeting a new audience for my work. As most of the shows I do are either applied arts or ceramics specific – this showcase of anything from flowers to fashion via gin and skin products, meant many customers saw my work for the very first time. The response was fantastic – with particularly positive comments on how our work sits well together. We both had great sales. The atmosphere amongst the exhibitors was really supportive and friendly. Some have since become collectors of my work.

This year the well established colour palette of icy hues and wintry tones of my pieces have welcomed some new colours inspired by Dionne’s artwork in shades of grey and the odd splash of yellow. The range of tableware and interior accessories has expanded. I have particularly enjoyed working on some larger pieces and can’t wait to showcase these at Arley Hall.”

“Arley Hall is the most beautiful venue for this event”, says Dionne. It’s a real treat to be able to display our work in the Great Hall. Last year, willow maker Juliette Hamilton had created a menagerie in one of the stables, there were giant metal sculptures in the gardens and wonderful food and drink were flowing freely: my top tip is to get the the wood fired pizzas early before they run out!!

This year I have new, exciting stitched and drawn compositions to show at Simply Cheshire – the colours and movement of the surface reflects nuances of Tone’s ceramic qualities.”

Simply Cheshire is a celebration of the county and its creative entrepreneurs. The criteria to be an exhibitor is that you either have to be born and bred in the county or have your business based in Cheshire.  Arley Hall and Gardens provide a stunning backdrop to the fair and visitors have the opportunity to explore the grounds alongside the main shopping activities of the weekend. Visitors can also expect exhibitor demonstrations throughout the day, amazing food and drink and live music. It sounds like it’s going to be another successful year!

You can see more of Tone and Dionne’s work by clicking on their names and following the links to their collections with us on madebyhandonline. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting the Simply Cheshire event in May do go along and say hello to them!