Interview with Dionne Swift


Dionne Swift

In this strange, to say the least, period we are living, such as we have never lived before, we are forced to stay at home, and we have a lot of time to think. Of this imprisonment I have discovered a positive aspect: we can find many of our things, or better still, of people, end unfinished projects, and have a better communication with everyone and everything.

All this time for us, my passion and ongoing research on the issue of textile art pushes me to share the work of Artists met online. One of them is Dionne Swift, I have followed her for a long time, captured not only by her smile, very empathetic, but also by her interesting work of research on textiles, she translates a landscape in a very particular sewing work.

For those who do not know her, here are some news

Dionne is an award-winning textile artist, her inspiration is the landscape she represents through different materials, she starts by drawing and translates with thread, embroidering with a sewing machine her sketches, creating real paintings on fabric.

She cooperates with Tone von Krogh, anceramic artist originally from Northern-Europe, with whom she shares her exhibitions.

She lives and works in her study in Chesire, a County in North West England (near Manchester, the County town is Chester, it is famous for cheese, cats and famous landscapes and people…) but she moves throughout the country and abroad to spread and show her work with master classes and exhibitions.

Every summer she comes to Italy, in Abruzzo, where she organizes classes that do not only concern her specific work but quilting as well. She does so for her foreign friends that reach her there and follow her lessons, but also for the inhabitants of the small village and its surrounding.

I contacted her online to know more about her directly. Her availability and friendliness have been outstanding and we, as Scuola Romana Quilting, are grateful and would be really happy to have her among us one day (it is an open invitation for when all of this emergency will only be a memory), to show us her Art live.

N. 50 – 50@50, Detail, San Giovanni in Venere, Fossacesia, Chieti, Copyright Dionne Swift

Here we are, please describe your way of representing the world that surrounds us through your particular technique: drawing reproduced through sewing

Within my work, I capture a moment in time, an emotion, a colour, maybe a sense of adrenaline..always something that effects me emotionally.  Since I was young I have been compelled to create, to draw, to sew, without it I am nothing.

Starting 50@23, Copyright Dionne Swift

Work in progress, Copyright Dionne Swift

How and when does Italy enter your life, and in particular the Abruzzo countryside?

We bought our house in Abruzzo 5 years ago.  It had been a dream, but when mymother in law died, we decided that we must ’s eize the day’.  Our house is La Vecchia Scuola di Tornareccio [CH] so it is the perfect building also run my creative summer schools.  I have been trying to learn Italian for the last 5 years – it is a very difficult language for me. I need to spend as much time there to practice and practice.  

As a way to integrate into my new community I made a community quilt with the residents of Tornareccio [famous for its mosaics, honey, mozzarella]…now weall know each other, it’s great!

Tornareccio (Chieti)

A quilt for Tornareccio, Copyright Dionne Swift

Your technique is extremely interesting, it is a natural follow-up of drawing, is sketching so common and practiced in England?

I am an artist, not just a seam stress.  Drawing on paper is a vital part of my process: it helps me understand how I can translate a view or a scene into stitch.  Drawing and visually recording information is part of the design process, which for me, is very important

Sketchbook drawing, Copyright Dionne Swift

Sketchbook pages, Copyright Dionne Swift

Considering your choice of color, it is clear that you rebel against something, certainly against tradition, but is there a bit of drama as well?

My mood and my drawings tell me the colours and effects to use/portray…I work very physically with my sewing machine – it is a drawing and painting tool.  I need my work to be prominent, to stand out and have a presence – an atmosphere

Road Trip, Copyright Dionne Swift

Old Road II, Copyright Dionne Swift

Dark Mark Stitched, Copyright Dionne Swift

A question on Tone von Krogh, an interesting ceramics artist, with whom you exhibit. It is evident that there are similarities, besides Tone’s refined color choices, that are beyond time.

Tone Von Krogh is a very good friend.  We have known of each other for 25 years, but very close over the last 6/7 years.  Our a esthetichas developed together and always we can make our works it beautifully together.  We don’t plan this in advance, it just happens – we are very lucky to know each other

The contemporary craft festival 2018,Tone Von Krogh-Dionne Swift

At the moment, in these difficult times, with some textiles friends, we have developed a virtual quilt project- anyone can get involved all the information is here: It is not my normal work but I often instigate community projects to make quilts.  Quilts are good to bring a community together.

As you know I also run a lot of ONLINE workshops and give daily broadcasts from my studio:

Last year I was 50 yearsold – I made a collection of works : 50 piecesshowingmy travels in N.Africa and Italy.  This one is from the centre of Tornareccio.

I use free machine embroidery to draw and paint with mysewing machine and threads – mixing colours and textures on the surface of the cloth.

Alcuni dei 50@50 In esposizione a Tornareccio

Thanks Dionne and goodbye not only online.

Tullia Ferrero for ARTEMORBIDA