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The Reef

About Frances Smith

Artist, Fran Smith

I was always drawing and sculpting as a child. In the 1970’s, I was academically trained in graphic design at Sydney College of the Arts and after graduating, began work as a graphic designer in television.

I became head of design for Channel 7 in Sydney before travelling to London and working in various galleries and design practices.

Returning to Australia in the 1980’s, worked at Channel 9 as a senior air-brush artist and then for the ABC in Sydney, before leaving and heading the design department at a major independent TV studio, transitioning to digital design and animation.

Since then I have worked as a designer in book publishing, formed my own design studio and multimedia company and developed a commercial newspaper publication in both print and web.

Throughout, I worked in clay, gaining competence in both throwing and glazing, working at night and weekends mostly, but for several happy years, as a full-time production potter.

Compared to most of the mediums I have used, clay is the most challenging – but it is also the most rewarding. From a plastic, almost trivial raw material, it is transformed over a series of stages into a highly decorative, functional and long-term expression of creative intent.

My fascination is with simple, elegant functional ware in porcelain; sometimes as surface for intricate illustration; and sometimes as a form that uses glaze simply as a means to highlight the underlying beauty of the piece itself, without further artistic overloading.

Find us on Weave

We are members of the Kiama and Shellharbour arts directory called Weave.

Find us on Etsy

Selected works are available on Etsy.


Fran’s current work is available at the “Precinct Galleries” at Berry on the New South Wales south coast.

Precinct Galleries
12 – 24 Alexandra Street
Berry NSW 2535

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Recent Exhibitions

Other Exhibitions

  • 2016

    A Fresh Perspective, group exhibition, Kerrie Lowe Gallery, Sydney.
  • 2015

    Touch, group exhibition, Brookvale TAFE, Sydney.
    Reminiscence, exhibition, Judith Wright Contemporary Art Centre, Brisbane.
    Artisans in the Gardens, group exhibition, Botanical Gardens, Sydney.
  • 2014

    Evolution, group exhibition, Brookvale TAFE, Sydney.
  • 2007

    Tango, exhibition, Ewart Gallery, Willoughby, Sydney.
  • 2006

    Above the Salt, group exhibition, Ewart Gallery, Willoughby, Sydney.
  • 2004

    Seasons, joint exhibition, Fairview Gallery, Mudgee, NSW.
Gymea Lilly, Evolution Exhibition 2014

Black & White



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The Kerrie Lowe Gallery gathered an impressive selection of ceramic art work from graduating students from several of Australia’s prestigious ceramic teaching studios. The works of 27 artists were featured in the exhibition, which was opened on Friday May 6th by Merran Esson, former Head of Ceramics, National Art School.

Kerrie Lowe and gallery partner Elisabeth Johnson have a commitment to the development of fresh and exciting talent. For over twenty years, the Gallery has featured constantly changing exhibitions of work by Australian ceramic artists. The clay work is supported by paintings, prints, sculpture and jewellery.

Kerrie and Elizabeth selected works from four of Sydney’s TAFE colleges, the National School, Sydney College of Arts at the University of Sydney and University of NSW Art & Design faculty.

Frances Smith was awarded the top Graduating Student prize when she graduated from the Advanced Diploma in Ceramic Arts from the Brookvale TAFE in 2015.

Frances contributed nine pieces to the Fresh Perspective exhibition, all from her Endangered Flora series. This series evolved from her major Judith Wright retrospective exhibition and her work for the Botanic Gardens in Sydney – an annual event entitled Artisans in the Gardens.

Frances’ works were the culmination of her development of highly illustrated porcelain ceramic style featuring underglaze illustrations augmented with third-fired lustres. The brilliant lustre colours enhance the underglaze illustrations. Frances set these ground illustrations off against a brilliant golden lustre background.

Frances says she was looking to create ceramic illustrations where the brush-stroke was an integral part of the illustration, in the same way that impressionist painters embraced pronounced brushwork rather than hiding it behind a surface of photographic realism. The works on display at the Kerrie Lowe Gallery included four small lustre, a large gold lustre bowl and two large gold lustre plates.

Fran also included three large black and white porcelain vessels which were thrown and altered with black slip-glaze illustrations where a ‘syringe’ tool is used to apply the free form illustrations directly onto the thrown greenware. It is then bisque and then high-fired. Frances polished the un-glazed porcelain surface to a low sheen making for a smooth buttery feel to the finished surface.

Frances has been invited back to the Kerrie Lowe Gallery for a group exhibition entitled Clay Marks; Printing and Painting on Clay.

The Clay Marks exhibition opens on Friday 19 August at the Kerrie Lowe Gallery, 49 – 51 King St, Newtown 2042.

Phone | 9550 4433 / Fax – 9550 1996
Web | www.kerrielowe.com

Calanthe, Frances Smith’s striking black and white ceramic vessel has been selected as part of Queensland’s “Cream of the Crop” exhibition. The exhibition was opened in Brisbane by His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC as Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Honourable Paul de Jersey

Cream of the Crop is a competitive selection of art works by established and emerging Queensland artists and will be on display at the Judith Wright Centre before touring regional Queensland Galleries.

At the opening, the Honourable Paul de Jersey said, ”The latest exhibition, Cream of the Crop, gives audiences in Brisbane and regional centres the opportunity to encounter works of art that are moving, startling, whimsical, powerful, topical and mysterious – sometimes several at once.”

Artists were asked to identify and address a significant theme relevant to their local region or community drawing on personal experiences or observations.

Fran’s work was a 40 cm tall thrown and altered porcelain piece which featured a black slip illustration of the famous Queensland Calanthe Orchid. The Calanthe is endemic in the Tamborine Mountain plateau, where Frances lived and worked for many years.

Cream of the Crop’s judging Panel included Jan Manton of Jan Manton Art who is also the exhibition Curator, Alexis Tacey from the University of Southern Queensland and Ashleigh Campbell of the Cairns Regional Gallery.

The Exhibition will be touring regional Queensland throughout 2016 managed under the auspices of the Flying Arts Alliance. Flying Arts is a 45 year old Queensland organisation dedicated to promoting the “appreciation, practice and professional development of the visual and media arts as a lifetime interest or career”.

In opening the exhibition, Paul de Jersey likened Flying Arts to the Flying Doctor organisation in its role of actively “taking services out to communities rather than asking communities to come to them.”

In his closing remarks, His Excellency said, “I thank all of the artists who participated in the competition, however they fared, for generously sharing their creative spirit with us.”

The Reminiscence exhibition which celebrated the centenary of the birth of Australian poet and conservationist – Judith Wright – is now touring regional Queensland under the auspices of the Flying Arts Alliance.

The joint exhibition of the works of artists Fiona Rafferty and Frances Smith opened in Brisbane on Saturday 5 December last year at the Judith Wright Centre.  In paintings and drawings, Fiona Rafferty brought to life the Tamborine Mountain environment where Wright produced much of her poetic works.  She also made comments on the effects of mining and development on the unique Australian landscape.

Frances Smith contributed a series of ceramic vessels that looked at the life and works of Judith Wright in five key themes:

  • Inside and outside
  • Birds in nature,
  • Aboriginal heritage
  • Conservation and the Great Barrier Reef
  • Life and resolution

The exhibition was curated by Charlotte Tegan, an artist and photographer in her own right.

After the success of the launch and exhibition, Flying Arts and Fiona Rafferty arranged to have the exhibition tour regional Queensland, so the powerful message of Judith Wright’s work and influence could be shared with people who could not travel to Brisbane to see the exhibition in its full form.

It was planned that the artists ideas and working methods would be shared with the regional audiences, either by direct presentations by the artists or through presentations by the Flying Arts team.

Frances Smith prepared an artist’s workbook that looked at her artistic process for the exhibition pieces and has been used in presentations about Reminiscence in regional galleries.

Responsibility for the touring exhibition was passed to another experienced artist and curator, Maya Carter-Malins, who took over day-to-day responsibility for Reminiscence when Charlotte Tegan focussed on completing her PhD.

Dates and places for the reminiscence touring exhibition can be found on the Flying Arts Alliance website.