My work as an artist has always made reference to both my childhood experience in Southern and Western Africa and that of my Norwegian heritage. It is from these cultures that I have developed a love for pattern and sensitivity to the notion of pattern as language and symbol in its decoration of functional forms. Recognizing the depth and power of childhood and the degree to which it has influenced my art, the designs and use of ornamentation in my pieces show a dialogue between these two cultures. Nine years ago, I made a decision to limit myself to the use of black and white in my work. This forced me to focus on composition and pattern to create depth and motion where color was absent. It was also necessary for me to develop a sense of integration with the softness of form in my vessels against the often sharp and hard graphic contrasts of the black and white designs. Ultimately, the pieces I make are about pattern in relationship to form; the goal being to alter the way in which we see familiar forms through the use of design and the way we think of space. I attempt to do this by using pattern in terms of an optical movement in harmony with the shape and in its movement over the form. There is also an attempt to use pattern in a manner that alters the way the piece interacts with its surrounding space, perhaps changing the way we see the space around us. In my pieces, I attempt to juxtapose the inside with the outside of the form in order to question the perspective or create an illusion. For example, the form may appear to break at a certain point when in fact, it physically doesn't, or it may appear to be deeper than it actually is. The challenge of integrating a two-dimensional pattern with a three-dimensional form in such a way that they work together provides much enjoyment in my process. Surface design has easily the ability to flatten a form, but it can also be used to enhance the form in such a way that the two complement each other.
Throughout this period of time, I have also limited myself to the use of the sgraffito technique in my work; after the pieces are thrown on the wheel in a white stoneware or porcelain clay body, I paint a black slip over the surface. The design is then carved through the slip revealing the white clay underneath. I find that the sharp quality of line achieved in the carving process complements the high contrast of the imagery. Of equal importance is the resulting tactile quality of the piece; the value of which was confirmed to me many years ago when I introduced a piece to someone who was blind. His ability to see and describe the image by feeling the surface gave new meaning to my own appreciation for texture. One of my satisfactions in working with clay is the ability to express myself beyond the visual and into the sense of touch.
In my current body of work, I have focused much attention on the depth of my carving; pushing the limits of the structural integrity within the walls of the pieces. The element of texture has become increasingly important to me in my use of pattern and its relationship to form. For me, it is the interaction of light with the texture that I want to emphasize; the deep shadows and highlights created in this interaction can accent and accompany the visual movement of the pattern across the form. I am also interested in how the deep carving can engage the viewer into exploring a tactile element of the pieces. An example of this may be found in the use of serrated edges on some of my recent pieces that are smooth in one direction and extremely sharp in the other. To this end, I have become fascinated with barbs and their variations in saw blades as well as the extent that they may be found in both the large and microscopic forms of nature.