Heathyr Francis is an Ontario Certified Art and Biology teacher and owner of Place In Nature Studios, in Buckhorn Ontario. Heathyr received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Trent University in Peterborough and her teaching qualifications in Art and Biology from Queen’s University in Kingston, with an emphasis in outdoor education. The combination of art and science continues to be a key driver in Heathyr’s life and work. She has lived in the Peterborough area her entire life and has drawn inspiration for her art from the native species that call the lakes and forests of this area ‘home’. Heathyr’s studio work is profoundly inspired by her passion for Species at Risk and her drive to understand the technical nature of her artistic endeavours.
Heathyr is most well known for her Raku-fired ceramic toad houses, a venture that she started in June, 2013 with the assistance of summer company funding from the Province of Ontario. Over the summer Heathyr established ‘Place In Nature Studios’ as a commercial pottery studio and had the pleasure of attending events in Orillia, Bobcaygeon, Lakefield, Bridgenorth, Haliburton, Peterborough, and Alderville. Her toad houses are currently sold in a number of stores in Ontario including Avante-Garden in Peterborough. Heathyr is an active member of the Kawartha Potter’s Guild and participates regularly in their gallery showings, most recently at the Gallery on the Lake in Buckhorn. Teaching continues to be an important pursuit for Heathyr, ranging from working with local Aboriginal youth to teaching pottery classes to various other opportunities that are pursued to enhance her understanding of the natural world around her.
Heathyr’s diverse artistic background draws inspiration from many different forms of art and artists. Sculptors like Joe Fafard help drive Heathyr’s passion for constant evolution and experimentation in her work and the unpredictability of Raku.
“I try things, rather than just repeating the thing that had already proven successful. I take the attitude that I’m like a scientist who want to experiment and discover things and dig out the truth.”
Environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy inspires not only the passion for nature in art but of directly incorporating nature into art. He embraces in his work the impermanent aspect of nature and the role that time and the environment around him play in his art. Heathyr’s use of local plant sources and seasonality in her work embrace this approach in a small but meaningful way.
“I think it’s incredibly brave to be working with flowers and leaves and petals. But I have to: I can’t edit the materials I work with. My remit is to work with nature as a whole.” – Andy Goldsworthy
Colin Hoag, like many spouses of potters is chiefly in charge of kiln firings. From bisquing to glaze firing, all pieces from Place In Nature Studios are carefully handled by Colin from their greenware state until their final glaze firing stage. Many of our pieces are low fired to enhance their ability to react with our Raku glazes, although on occasion we will take excursions up to Cone 6 for special items and requests. We currently electric fire all our wares but are moving towards propane firing in the near future, which will provide us with faster and more reliable firings. Colin also handles all the glazing requirements of our pieces and is continuously looking for new techniques and glazes to advance our product line. Colin manages the studio, keeping it well stocked and organized and on occasion will be found building new prototypes for our product lines.
Both Colin and Heathyr are members of the Kawartha Potters Guild. Here is a link to their member’s gallery on KPG website: http://kawarthapottersguild.com/place-in-nature-studios/
Classes that Heathyr instructs at the Guild can be found here, under the workshop heading.
For more ways to keep up to date with Place in Nature Studios, visit:
This business was supported by the Ontario Summer Company Program. Find out about the ways they support me here.
Here’s a clip from an episode of the Garden Gate, on CHEX TV.
And more info about it on the Avant-Garden’s blog:
Here’s some insider info as we prepare for winter from the Kawartha Potters Guild website: http://kawarthapottersguild.com/working-on-our-christmas-wares/
Here is a feature piece on me on the peterboroughcanada.com site:
Here is a clip from a show we attended. Colin can be found in it glazing some pieces in the first 10 seconds of the video:
Here is an excerpt from the Peterborough Examiner’s coverage
“I wanted to create a business that had an environmental purpose,” explained 29-year-old Heathyr Francis.
Although Francis has a couple of science degrees, she had difficulty finding work in the field. Thus, she decided to create Place in Nature Studios, a hand-made ceramics business. She creates lawn ornaments that also function as tiny houses for toads, which she sells at art festivals throughout Buckhorn.
“I’ve learned skills that I wouldn’t find sitting in a school classroom,” she says. “It’s so important to learn by experience.”