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Hard Transits

HARD TRANSITS reprises three Norwegian ships used as expeditionary vessels into the Arctic, all carrying individual dramas that hint at the problematic entry into the modern period for the fledgling nation. The fourth ship is Swedish. Each ship holds a 'void space': extraneous architectures carved into the ships, splicing one story into another.

Northern Star


134 cm l x 56 cm h x 37 cm w


53” l x 21” w x 16” h

Northern Star graphic sm.jpg

drawing by Joost Kors     118 cm x 84 cm / 48” x 33”

Northern Star, left:  the void space inside the clay frigate mimics that of a 'black box'. The ‘black box’ records flight data,  facilitating the investigation of aviation accidents.

Northern Star detail_4 copy.jpeg

Northern Star: bow attachment detail for installation

The NORTHERN STAR, a Swedish frigate, was sunk by a Norwegian military action, and helped define an emergent Norwegian state.  The ship model on which my rendition is based, is found in the Tingvoll church in Norway. The original wooden carving was probably made by the drummer on the Tordeskjold fleet, Sjur Kjøl, likely in the early 1700’s.



140 cm l x 41 cm h x 49 cm w

55” l x 16” w x 19” h

In the ship MAUD, I’ve used a passageway to connect the writer Knut Hamsun’s birth cabin to the ‘Führerbunker’ – Hitler’s Berlin bunker. Hamsun, the remarkable Norwegian Nobel prize recipient for literature, became infamous his miscalculation to support Hitler at war’s outset, and who is subsequently part of post-war Norway’s rehabilitation project.


Maud graphic.jpg

drawing by Joost Kors     118 cm x 84 cm / 48” x 33”

Maud Hamsun cabin_corrected.jpg

Maud hull and deck (with indent of Hamsun 'birth cabin')

Maud obverse

Maud hull and deck (with indent of Hamsun 'birth cabin')


Gjøa dimensions    138 cm l x 35 cm h x 42 cm w       

Gjøa:  detail of Saz Leaf void

Gjøa: foreground

Fram: background

Gjoa fore, Fram back_sm.jpg

drawing by Joost Kors     118 cm x 84 cm / 48” x 33”

The FRAM (below) was the first purpose-built arctic capable vessel, and now beloved by Norwegians. It was commissioned by explorer Fridtjof Nansen for his 1893-96 expedition. The ship ((‘Forward’ in English) was designed to freeze into the Arctic ice sheet and float with it over the North Pole (in fact, it did travel within the ice sheet for three years).


In my ceramic version of the Fram, a bomb-damaged corridor from the July 22nd terrorist attack in Oslo, Norway, is embedded within the ship’s hull.




143 cm l x 34 cm h x 42 cm w

50” l x 13” w x 16” h

Fram graphic.jpg

drawing by Joost Kors     118 cm x 84 cm / 48” x 33”





stoneware & lead glazes, metal fittings, drawings

Installation dimensions


4 m L. x 4 m W. x 2 m H. 

16’L x 16’W x 6’D

© 2022 by Neil Forrest

one person exhibition at RAM Gallerie

Oslo, Norway, 2014

Oliwia Beszczynska, Joost Kors, fabrication assistance.

Photography by Øystein Thorvaldsen

details by Neil Forrest

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