Questions relating to place, location and by extension dislocation and movement, are a continuous focus in my work. I am interested in the space ‘in-between’, speaking of distance, borderland and a positioning of identity. Language occupies an important part in this inquiry, the idea of the ‘translator’ and the use of the ‘mother tongue’ as orientation, home and dwelling rather than physical location.
It is the fragmentary nature of a nomadic existence that underlies much of my work, the fragile theoretical armature by which all kinds of personal narratives and pictorial elements are joined together from many sources, written and visual as well as from direct observations. Many drawings are based on architectural space and the specifics of floors, stairs and ceilings, broken apart and re-assembled in the field of the panel or in other pieces, small multiples, which grow out of solids.
Each piece is built layer upon layer of drawn imagery, beginning on paper: drawings of lines, net structures with empty spaces, holes; the lines becoming the space itself, conveying a sense of dynamic movement. In Gego’s words,
The charm of the line in and of itself – the line in space as well as the line drawn on a surface, and the nothing between the lines and the sparkling when they cross, when they are interrupted, when they are of different colours or different types. I discovered that sometimes ‘the in-between lines’ is as important as the line by itself. (On Line, Catherine de Zegher, p. 118)
Often these drawings are then water jet or laser cut in stainless or mild steel. Cutting, incising and piercing have been part of my vocabulary of drawing for a very long time. In the early days as a practicing ceramist I intricately incised and pierced very thin and fragile bone china forms. These incisions, lines and holes created energetic movements around and across the forms. The act of cutting through stainless steel with a laser however is much more extreme – the high heat required to cut the steel slightly deforms the metal creating physical tensions in strong contrast to the original intricate mark making. I am aiming for an ever-increasing level of intricacy and complexity, which means many unexpected results and having to very much accept the ‘non perfect’, every piece is different. At the same time the lasers are able to cut lines and marks finer and smaller than I would ever be able to accomplish in steel by hand.
I see the initial drawing process as a ‘rehearsal’ for the permanent marks to be cut; areas are removed by the laser, describing space, lines creating shadows on the wall behind forming the ‘double’: connecting artwork, wall and panel. Subsequently, layers of enamel, fragile, yet hard and permanent, interrupt the juxtaposition of the cut spaces, each meticulously drawn, scratched, abraded and engraved. Here is the element of ‘chance’, the artwork being fired and re-fired several times, the handmade mark unpredictable and intimate.
Often the work in metal has ‘companion artworks’ in paper as prints
or artists books.