Artist Spotlight: Estella Fransbergen

April 24 2015
Estella Fransbergen, who has won several prestigious awards and is exhibited in collections, galleries and museums around the world, spent her childhood in rural South Africa and has been educated in the Netherlands, Italy and America. These experiences have exposed her to cultural diversity and Nature’s beauty. From the age of eight, she has been digging into clay, plying the earth between her hands, collecting wood and building fires. She has created an impressive body of work inspired by nature that reflects her total life experience.
Estella’s work is the expression of the human form… and the embodiment of beauty entwined with the powers of Nature.  "We are so far removed from nature that we are broken, not whole anymore. To become whole again, you must listen to your inner self and return to Nature." Drawn to the female form and the ancient art of Raku, Estella’s work is born from the earth, the wood and the fire.
Estella Fransbergen’s female torsos are incarnations of delicacy and the impermeable. She uses RAKU clay because it’s rich with grog, a substance that allows the clay to shrink and expand with temperature fluctuations in the kiln and fire. The tending of the fire and the placing of the pieces into it are ceremonial in their progression. Estella prefers to burn hard woods like Oak, Hickory or Cherry often cut from her own Property. She vividly describes the creative process, "A specific moment comes. I move to take the piece out. I have to wear fire protective gear: a head and face shield, boots, a large apron and huge asbestos mittens with a couple of fingers. Tongs don’t work with the larger pieces. It's almost as if I have to move into the fire, cradle the piece and gently usher it out. I put the piece in a large trash can full of combustibles, fan and then smother the fire. It’s nearly over. I take the piece out of the can and flush it with cool water. Over time, I have learned to simply accept and thank nature for what is. From clay, dust, water, wood, air and fire, a piece has been BORN."

Estella presently lives in rural Indiana, where she conceives, fires and adorns her pieces in great solitude.