Cathy Franzi is a full-time studio artist exploring botanical and environmental themes. In 2015 she was awarded a Doctorate in Visual Arts (Ceramics) from the Australian National University School of Art & Design. Her doctoral research investigated scientific and cultural values attributed to plant species, including a study of historical ceramics, prints and botanical illustrations in museums and galleries around the world. Through her art practice she explores how Australian plants and environmental knowledge might be expressed in ceramic form and surface.
Cathy has developed a distinctive textural approach to representing Australian flora, adapting aspects of printmaking methods and composition to the ceramic medium. She creates her own materials, tools and processes in which her final work evokes relief, intaglio or block 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 glaze.
Botanical research is fundamental to the integrity of Cathy’s work and is supported by her Bachelor of Science from the University of Sydney. In preparation for a body of work, time is spent in the field observing, drawing and photographing plants. Whether accompanying botanists, or in an herbarium or seed bank, insights and methods of scientific research inform and become embedded in her studio practice. Her interdisciplinary approach has led to numerous science-art projects including the prestigious ANU Vice-Chancellor’s College Artist Fellows Scheme in the Research School of Biology and the ‘Art of Threatened Species’ funded by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
Cathy Franzi’s work is held in public collections including Parliament House Art Collection, Shepparton Art Museum, Canberra Museum & Gallery, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Manly Art Gallery & Museum and the ANU Art Collection. She has been the recipient of several awards and grants including Australia Council for the Arts, the Nelson Nichols Scholarship in Ceramics and most recently Highly Commended in the 2020 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize. In 2021 Franzi was selected for CraftACT: Craft + Design Centre’s professional development program CO:LAB to work across the disciplines of art and architecture.