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Artist In Residence: Dr. Cathy Franzi at the Vancouver Arts Centre in Albany, WA

By Janelle Petersen

In January, Dr Cathy Franzi began an artist residency in Albany at Vancouver Arts centre.

Dr Cathy Franzi is an award-winning visual artist interested in expressing scientific and environmental knowledge through the representation of Australian flora on ceramic form. In 2010 she completed a Master of Visual Arts in Ceramics at the School of Art Design at the Australian National University, Canberra. In 2015 she was awarded a Doctorate in Visual Arts (Ceramics) for her research topic, ‘An Australian botanical narrative: a practice-led enquiry into the representation of Australian flora on the ceramic vessel as an expression of environmental culture’.

Cathy has developed a distinctive textural approach to representing Australian flora, adapting aspects of printmaking methods and composition to her ceramics. She creates her own materials, tools and processes. Her finished work draws on relief, intaglio and lino printmaking. Vessels are wheel-thrown using porcelain and then altered, giving movement to the form from which to respond with surface imagery. A plant's form and character are captured using sgraffito, incising or hand-drawn stencils, and flower colour using materials such as underglaze and slip.

The southwest of Australia has a rich and diverse selection of native plants and wildflowers and is a biodiversity hot spot. Luckily for us, this was of interest to Cathy so we all got to share in her wealth of experience. She conducted workshops with tiles for textural imagery at The Albany Pottery Group situated on the grounds of The Vancouver Arts Centre.

For Cathys workshop we prepared a selection of small leather-hard slabs for us to practice 8 different surface techniques. We started with covering a few tiles with black underglaze and slip. Dividing one of the tiles with a grid pattern, we were introduced to an array of sgrafitto and carving tools and even some tools that Cathy had made herself. We then practised mark making and carving getting a feel for the tools.

We had a full day of drawing using different surface illustrations on clay.

1. Sgrafitto: white line approach

2. Sgrafitto: black silhouette approach

3. Slip inlay: carving or impression-then inlay with slip

4. Incising ink inlay: fine line incising then inlay with liquid underglaze or ink

5. Water erosion/etching: using shellac or acrylic medium for painting a resist

6. Stencils: paper shapes used as stencils to mask or resist

7. Sponge stamping/slip trailing

We were encouraged to research printmaking techniques to help with our sgrafitto . Everyone came away with a lot of new skills and confidence.

Cathy will be exhibiting an array of vessels created during this research residency in Albany at Berlin Design Week in 2023.

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