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Striking Ceramics Reflect Creativity

Written by Margo Berryman

Striking ceramic art pieces produced by Bannockburn ceramicist Robert Franklin reflect his creativity and dedication to evolving his craft over several decades.

A collection of his work is on display at his petite home studio and gallery space, Fusion Ceramics, exhibiting his mastery of the refined pottery medium in its many forms.

“The range includes porcelain, raku ware and glazed stoneware through to saggar fired ware,” says Robert. “Early Chinese pottery styles have long been an inspiration and I produced quite a lot of raku for a while but now saggar firing has really captured my imagination.”

Motivated by his time as a part-time studio potter making domestic pottery for a number of retail outlets in the 1970s, Robert returned to his potter’s wheel seven years ago, after a 30-year hiatus working in banking and finance.

“I sat down at my pottery wheel and it all just poured out of me. I had not touched the wheel for 30 years but there I was producing pieces like never before which was exhilarating. That satisfaction was hugely motivational and drove my desire to continue to evolve the work into this more elevated ceramic form by mastering specialist techniques and treatments.”

The origin of ceramic saggar firing dates back to pre-ninth century Chinese pottery and the formation of porcelain whiteware decorated with cobalt blue designs that was much prized by Chinese emperors. 

“Today I use the saggars technique of individual lidded clay containers for each piece as it goes into the kiln which allows me to use various combustibles, oxides and natural ingredients like banana skins, seaweed and coffee grounds to create beautiful natural effects,” he says. “There is no glaze involved with each finish completely the result of the fire.”

Each vase, bowl or lidded vessel is highly burnished several times with a river stone to achieve a soft and tactile satin finish producing exquisite results.

“It has been an evolving process of exploration of this specialist technique. It moved me towards a philosophy of more fire and less of the glaze and this new direction has really resonated with my customers.”

Robert’s work has national and international appeal and he is in demand for solo exhibitions and commissions. He is part of Cromwell’s artist collective at Hullabaloo Gallery where a limited selection of his work is on display.

“My recent solo exhibition at Hullabaloo entitled Fire and Fusion showcased the saggar fire ware and it’s attracted many new customers to my Bannockburn Gallery to see more of the collection. My lifestyle here involves skiing, mountain biking and fishing but most days I find myself in the studio creating work and it’s always great to welcome new people to the gallery.” 

About the author

Margo Berryman