Cathy Franzi is a highly regarded ceramic artist who lives and works in Canberra. Through the materiality of ceramics and its possibilities for form, surface imagery and installation, Cathy explores ways to express cultural values attributed to Australian plants. Her work is underpinned by research in the botanical sciences, natural history collections and fieldwork on location. Initially trained in science, her love of the natural world is exemplified by the botanical approach she takes to her work. Working in porcelain and also black clay her vessels are wheel thrown then altered into elegant shapes before being enriched with various methods of surface decoration. These techniques range from hand-drawn stencils and delicate inlaid ink drawings to the dramatic and textured effect of sgraffito – the technique of carving her design through colour onto the ceramic surface. With the eyes of both the scientist and the artist, Cathy’s love of the natural world is exemplified by the detailed approach she takes to her work.
Cathy graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Sydney before returning to her interest in ceramics. During the early part of her career, she fine-tuned her skills throwing in large potteries, and travelled and worked overseas. In 2010, she completed a Master of Visual Arts at the Australian National University School of Art & Design. After completing a practice-led PhD in Visual Arts (Ceramics) she received the ANU Vice-Chancellor’s College Artist Fellowship. Cathy has undertaken several residencies over the years including the Centre for Ceramics in Berlin, Fremantle Arts Centre and the Bundanon Trust. In 2020, she received a Highly Commended award in the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize and in 2021 was the People’s Choice winner for the Klytie Pate Ceramics Award. In 2020, Cathy received funding from artsACT to support new research into printmaking approaches applied to ceramics and in 2021, she was the recipient of Australia Council for the Arts funding to support research, culminating in a solo exhibition in Berlin in 2023. Cathy has worked as a teacher of ceramics over her career and is currently a lecturer at the School of Art & Design at the Australian National University. She was the president of the Australian Ceramics Association from 2017 – 2021. Cathy’s work is held in several collections including the Canberra Museum and Gallery, ACT Legislative Assembly, Grassi Museum of Applied Arts in Leipzig (Germany), Parliament House Art Collection and Manly Art Gallery & Museum.