ARTS & COLLECTIBLES
THE POWER OF NATURE
Celebrated artist Estella Fransbergen gives form to the power of nature with her sculptures crafted from clay, gemstones, and precious metals.
Estella Fransbergen has a unique vision of the world, one that celebrates the undeniable relationship between the human form and nature. It’s a vision born from her life experiences. Born and raised in South Africa, she studied art in the Netherlands before moving to Florida, where she lives at the edge of the Ocala National Forest.
Each work begins with the sculpting of a human torso using coiled clay. A favorite technique is that of raku, a traditional Japanese process in which the red-hot ceramic is placed from the kiln into sawdust to create myriad colors that swirl within the glaze and give each piece an individual identity. “The simplicity of the torso with the primitive firing techniques brings me back to my South African roots,” explains the artist.
Some torsos are crafted in clay, cast in solid bronze, and then patinated using high heat, acid, dyes, polishing, and silver plating. In contrast, others are cast from glass or have sculpted glass collars worked into the clay body to create movement and contrast. These pieces are then adorned with all manner of precious decoration, from gold overglazes to semi-precious stone brooches, pearl corsets, bronze lace, and silver filigree leaves.
The naked torso is then “dressed” using semi-precious and rare stones, shells, driftwood, or crocheted wire to create dynamic, swirling skirts that recall feathers, branches, and leaves. These fantastical creations can then be lit from the pedestal—which itself is sometimes a natural gem formation—to bring the skirts to life. This melding of high fashion with the natural world is the signature of Fransbergen’s work, and she has seen her work featured in personal collections, aboard superyachts, galleries across the world, and high-end commercial spaces.
The level of time and skill required to realize these creations is astonishing. Some skirts, for example, have as much as 1,300 yards of wire that is hand crocheted by the artist, and some significant works feature more than 2,500 gemstones. Beyond the artistic value of each piece, these embellishments give Fransbergen’s work an intrinsic worth that makes it a solid investment for collectors.
“My sculptures reflect my total life experiences. These experiences have exposed me to cultural diversity and the beauty of nature,” reveals Fransbergen. “My work is the expression of the human form—and the embodiment of beauty entwined with the powers of Nature.”