My roots are in Africa. I grew up in the Western Cape and spent my childhood among a wonderful proliferation of plants and animals which inhabit an amazingly diverse landscape, from the rugged bays of the coast to the rolling hills of the winelands, all presided over by the imposing presence of Table Mountain. Not surprising, then, that a love of nature and natural forms inspires my work.
My father was a painter and my mother was a photographer and potter. They both loved nature and I have fond memories of early morning expeditions to the beach to collect nautilus shells fresh from the sea. I first worked as a graphic artist in Cape Town but I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel extensively through southern Africa and to learn the skills of the safari guide.
I raised my family in England but never lost my love of the outdoors and of nature. I am fortunate to live in the Surrey Hills – said to be the most wooded part of Britain – where the landscape changes continually as the seasons progress, and I frequently come home from walking the dogs, laden with flowers, plants and leaves for use in my studio.
In my early work, I explored traditional African techniques, hand-coiling clay pots, burnishing with pebbles, then pit-firing them using organic materials to achieve serendipitous textures and earthy colours. I continued the African theme when I studied for my MA at UCA, using traditional sawdust firing where the pot surface captures the magical smoke patterns.
After my MA, I changed direction to explore imprinting techniques and extend my abilities with lustres, oxides and translucent glazes, and also developed a method of transforming individual leaves into porcelain.
Nature does not draw straight lines and is rarely symmetrical, so my work is generally quite organic and always hand-crafted, each piece unique in its own way. I particularly love combining clay – that comes from the earth – with plants that grow out of the earth to produce something that captures the qualities of both and transfers the transient structures of the plants into lasting impressions and permanent shapes.
My love of the part of the southern African coast known as Wilderness inspires many of the slip-decorated pots I produce. This has led me to develop vessels with semi-abstract landscape designs.
My work is always changing; exploring different styles and techniques is part of the immense joy I get from working with clay.