Divest installation - New Materialism exhibition


Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation, detail view

Divest is an installation of beewax and ash, which I created for the New Materialism PhD exhibition at Sydney College of the Arts Galleries, Rozelle NSW. This work is being exhibited in accompaniment to the SCA Grad School Conference, Tuesday 9 September 2014, where I presented my paper Beeswax – an ancient material in contemporary art

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation

New Materialism is an emerging trend in 21st century thought in several fields of inquiry, including philosophy, cultural theory, feminism, science studies, and the visual arts. Defined around the primacy of matter and its properties and actions, the New Materialism re-works long-held assumptions about the nature of the stuff of the universe. It responds to the need for novel accounts of agency, nature and social relationships in the contemporary epoch, when new questions have arisen about our place as embodied humans in the world and the ways we produce, reproduce and consume our material environment. In this challenge to invent new ways to understand the contemporary world, the visual arts have a special place given their concern with the manipulation of matter. For the artist or craftsperson in the studio or workshop, New Materialism can articulate and give agency to existing creative processes, and offer opportunities for new modes of authorship and expanded interpretations of materials and objects and our relationships with them.

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation

My interest in New Materialism relates to its consideration of non-human creatures, and all matter, as existing in an interconnected and constantly fluid state of flux, flow and change. This challenges conventional western notions of nature as a separate series of inert stable entities to be exploited by superior humans. The New Materialism discourse sees one of its tasks as creating new concepts and images of nature that affirm matter’s immanent vitality.


Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation

This call to rethink how we use and abuse our natural environment, to shift our human-centric focus to consider that non-human things exist for their own ends and have not evolved for human use, is conveyed in the New Materialism re-purposing of the word ‘materiality’ to mean a ‘process’ rather than a ‘thing’.*

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation

Working with a ‘process’ of materiality, which is impermanent and unstable rather than a static series of separate things, is a notion that resonates in my practice. For me, this process is about reconciling myself with my surroundings and the world’s inescapable natural cycles of life and death, destruction and renewal. Since of the death of my father in 2009, most of my work has in some way related to grieving and reflecting on death as a natural unavoidable part of life. In turn, my aim to cultivate an awareness of the vitality of everyday existence reflects a number of ecological issues and concern for the way that we all often feel inherently separated from nature. I respond to this by working with a contemplative process that focuses on embodying sensory experiences of my surroundings, particularly the fragility and flux of time and materiality.

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation

Divest consists of small empty beeswax funnels clustered across the wall and smattered with ash, suggesting abandoned containers of life, hollow shells soon to disintegrate. Made by wrapping warm pieces of beeswax around my fingers in a healing bandaging gesture, the funnels are then pressed into the wall in barnacle like clusters, clinging together at various angles. Impressions of my fingers remain on the wax surfaces, even as they become cold and brittle.

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation, detail view

Embedded in the work is the symbolism of the materials themselves, the beeswax speaks of the hive, the bees’ honeycomb home, as a nurturing life force for the bees and their vital role in ecosystems. The ash is a symbol of grieving, ritual and cremation.

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation

The ways the honeybees build and adjust their wax-comb designs responses directly to the colony's' changing needs, and is integral to the communication and successful functioning of the super organism that is the beehive. All elements of the hive – worker bees, forager bees, queen bee, larvae, baby bees, drones, wax comb, temperature, form and space, nectar, honey and pollen – are interconnected and interdependent. The complex ecology of the world can be likened to the super organism of a beehive, where humanity is like a few foraging honeybees that cannot survive alone, separated from nature, outside the hive.

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation

My interest in the ways that we can understand an embodied engagement with time, materiality and nature, through the sensory experience of art, reflects New Materialism’s vitality. This takes a positive approach to the potential for change in human attitudes, proposing that we have the intelligence and creativity to re-engage with nature, and the complex interconnections of our world.



* Maurizia Boscagli, Stuff Theory: Everyday Objects, Radical Materialism (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014). P 13


Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash installation

 For more information on the 2014 SCA Graduate School Conference & Exhibition 
The exhibition continues to 27 September 2014, open Monday to Saturday 11am - 5pm



Divest, beeswax installation - work in progress

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash on wall

Divest traces embodied experiences of impermanence and instability through the tactile material qualities of beeswax and ash. Reflecting on the passage of time and fragility of life, these barnacle-like beeswax forms suggest notions of sanctuary, healing and containment, while the smattered layers of ash conjure feelings of unease and vulnerability.

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash on wall, SCA studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash on wall
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash on wall
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash on wall, SCA studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash on wall, SCA studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash on wall, SCA studio 

Divest will be installed in the SCA Gallery for the New Materialism exhibition, 9 - 26 September 2014.
Sydney College of the Arts, Park Drive, Lilyfield NSW (enter opposite Cecily Street) sca.galleries@sydney.edu.au

New Materialism exhibition invitation, SCA Gallery
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash on wall
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax and ash on wall, SCA studio

Taper - installation for BUNKERED

Kath Fries, Taper, 2014, beeswax, twine, tree roots and light bulb

Bunkered “… responds to the dystopic landscape of a climate-changed future within the context of a domestic dwelling. The term bunker can mean a fortification, a shelter, a storage area for provisions, and a difficult situation. While encompassing all of these layered meanings, to be ‘bunkered’ also suggests a reaction to external forces that are threatening and are ultimately unpredictable. In Bunkered, a dynamic of dialectic oppositions is set: fortifications can fail, shelters can be permeated, stored items can be lost and difficult situations can be mitigated. Containing all of these oppositions is the encompassing figure looming large in the exhibition – that of the house. Suggesting comfort, warmth, protection and security, the domestic context is placed at the forefront of the Bunkered concept. The artists explore how the notion of a home could change when its surrounding environment is toxic.
In this way Bunkered forges a corporeal relationship with the notion of home in a climate-changed world. In mapping this future on a house, we also map these results on ourselves.
… The sense of danger reaches a heightened state in Kath Fries’s attic installation, Taper. The attic, according to Bachelard is a space where “fears are easily ‘rationalised’…”, however here Fries inverts this place to one where fears are realised. Resembling a malevolent parasitic plant, Taper’s root-like tentacles permeate the roof and remind us that this shelter will soon be reclaimed to the new natural forms that have adapted to the altered climate. 
… We are invited to speculate on a future way of life in an entirely familiar way - through the living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. By placing the concept within a lived environment, we experience the potentials of climate change not in the arms length relationship of a gallery setting, but rather up close, personal, with all of the sights, sounds and smells of a domestic context… Bunkered gives us the space to ask how we will relate to our notion of home when we are confronted with the psychological and emotional ramifications of life in a toxic climate, and ultimately questions, how will we live?"

Yvette Hamilton 
The House, the World

Kath Fries, Taper, 2014, beeswax, twine, rope, tree roots and light bulb

BUNKERED ARTISTS: Aaron Anderson, Lisa Andrew, Sarah Breen Lovett, Kuba Dorabialski, Kath Fries, Yvette Hamilton, Anna Horne, Rachael McCallum, Sarah Nolan, Office Feuerman, Katy B Plummer, Madeleine Preston, Marlene Sarroff and Lotte Schwerdtfeger.

BUNKERED
6 - 27 September 2014
Open: Thursday to Saturday 2-5pm
26 Ross Street, Forest Lodge, NSW 2037
www.branch3d.com.au

Opening Event: Saturday 6 September, 4-7pm (tickets)
Artcycle tours: every Saturday
Artist talks: Saturday 20 September, 2.30pm

BUNKERED is curated by Sarah Nolan, with an exhibition essay by Yvette Hamilton, and presented by BRANCH3D Gallery as part of Sydney Fringe Festival 2014

Taper - work in progress for BUNKERED exhibition

Kath Fries, Taper - work in progress, 2014, beeswax, twine, tree roots and light bulb

BUNKERED is a group exhibition situated in an inner city terrace, which contemplates life in a climate-changed future. Fourteen artists are creating works that challenge traditional relationships to domestic spaces.

Kath Fries, Taper - work in progress, 2014, beeswax, twine, tree roots and light bulb


Located in the BUNKERED attic, my installation Taper features entwined roots that dangle dripping with congealed beeswax. They stretch down from the pitched darkness, through the ceiling beams, towards a solitary dim light bulb. The roots are dead, dried and fragile, trickled with beeswax and wrapped in twine, some are almost fossilised into stalactites.

An attic purports to be safe haven, the room furthest from the street and closest to the sky, an enticing quiet place for humans, flora and fauna seeking refuge from the outside world. But a garret is also traditionally a place of poverty and madness, where creatures and people eventually meet their demise.

To taper is to gradually grow narrow towards one end, to taper off; and a taper is a thin candle. Located in an internal space that narrows into a pitched roof, where wax stalactites and plant roots hang like upturned candles thinning to a dripped point, Taper implies that escape is impossible. Uncontainable toxins and pollutions leach through the earth and air, seeping into our interior spaces to potentially poison all aspects of our lives.

Kath Fries, Taper - work in progress, 2014,
beeswax, twine, tree roots and light bulb

BUNKERED ARTISTS: Aaron Anderson, Lisa Andrew, Sarah Breen Lovett, Kuba Dorabialski, Kath Fries, Yvette Hamilton, Anna Horne, Rachael McCallum, Sarah Nolan, Office Feuerman, Katy B Plummer, Madeleine Preston, Marlene Sarroff and Lotte Schwerdtfeger.

BUNKERED
6 - 27 September 2014
Open: Thursday to Saturday 2-5pm
26 Ross Street, Forest Lodge, NSW 2037
www.branch3d.com.au

Opening Event: Saturday 6 September, 4-7pm (tickets)
Artcycle tours: every Saturday
Artist talks: Saturday 20 September, 2.30pm

BUNKERED is curated by Sarah Nolan, with an exhibition essay by Yvette Hamilton, and presented by BRANCH3D Gallery as part of Sydney Fringe Festival 2014

Download the Bunkered catalogue

The opening afternoon, Saturday 6 September, 4-7pm, is a free registered ticketed event. Tickets are available through Eventbrite. There will be six half hour timeslots scheduled for groups of up to 18 people visiting at a time. The meeting point is Forest Lodge Hotel, 117 Arundel Street, where BUNKERED volunteers will give you a designated time to visit the exhibition. All other opening times will not require a ticket, Thursday to Saturday 2-5pm until 27 September.

Bunkered exhibition invitation

2014 John Fries Award opening invitation

It's my pleasure to invite you to the opening of the 2014 John Fries Award finalists exhibition: 6pm, Tuesday 12th August, UNSW Galleries, cnr Oxford St & Greens Rd, Paddington, NSW. 


The 2014 John Fries Award finalists are: Abdul Abdullah, Justin Balmain, Ella Barclay, Tim Bruniges, Julian Day, Omar Chowdhury, George Egerton-Warburton, Marc Etherington, Hamishi Farah, Heath Franco, Samuel Hodge, Anna Horne, Juz Kitson, Anna Kristensen, Bridie Lunney, Daniel McKewen, Beryline Mung, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Alair Pambegan, Kate Scardifield, Marilyn Schneider, Jacqui Shelton, Jason Wing and Kentaro Yamada.
To preview their work go to www.viscopy.org.au/jfa 

Solace installation 2014 - SCA studio

Kath Fries, Solace, 2014, beeswax on window, sunlight and shadow, SCA studio

Recently, I've been continuing my Solace series of installations in my studio at Sydney College of the Arts, Rozelle. Working with sheets of beeswax to create patterns with transient sunlight and shadows, like a sundial, this work traces the passage of time. 

Kath Fries, Solace, 2014, beeswax on window, sunlight and shadow, SCA studio

Beeswax is a material in a constant state of flux, changing from brittle to malleable and opaque to translucent, with just a few degrees difference in temperature. When warmed beeswax gives off a delicious honey scent and reminds me that people all over the world have worked with bees, their hives, wax and honey since ancient times.

Kath Fries, Solace, 2014, beeswax on window, sunlight and shadow, SCA studio

The wax patterning in Solace links back to the structure of the hive where the beeswax originated, and where worker bees danced on it in precise figure-eight shapes to communicate the location of pollinating flowers in relation to the position of the sun. 

Kath Fries, Solace, 2014, beeswax on window, sunlight and shadow, SCA studio

Solace reflects on the passage of time, moment to moment as the shifting angles of sunlight penetrate the interior space. It also looks back to a long historical relationship between humans and bees, implying concern for the future and our complex, fragile intricate interconnections with both our micro and macro environments.

Kath Fries, Solace, 2014, shadow - detail view, SCA studio

Kath Fries, Solace - trace, 2014, beeswax on window, sunlight and shadow, SCA studio

Kath Fries, Solace - trace, 2014, beeswax on window, sunlight and shadow, SCA studio

Previous versions of Solace were installed last year at Murrary's Cottage in Hill End and also at Archive Space in Newtown, link.

John Fries Award 2014 - finalists announced



The 2014 John Fries Award finalists are: Abdul Abdullah, Justin Balmain, Ella Barclay, Tim Bruniges, Julian Day, Omar Chowdhury, George Egerton-Warburton, Marc Etherington, Hamishi Farah, Heath Franco, Samuel Hodge, Anna Horne, Juz Kitson, Anna Kristensen, Bridie Lunney, Daniel McKewen, Beryline Mung, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Alair Pambegan, Kate Scardifield, Marilyn Schneider, Jacqui Shelton, Jason Wing and Kentaro Yamada.


The winner of the 5th John Fries Award will be announced at 7pm, Tuesday 12 August at the Finalists Exhibition,  Galleries UNSW, COFA in Paddington, Sydney.

Sebastian Goldspink (the 2014 JFA guest curator and judge), said “The calibre of entries for this year’s award set a new standard. I was surprised, delighted and slightly overwhelmed by the prospect of whittling down the record 546 entries to a shortlist of 88, and then, with my fellow judges, to the 24 finalists. There was a genuine sense of excitement in the judging room.”

The finalists come from all over Australia and New Zealand, and their work includes painting, sculpture, installation, video and a live performance work.

“The John Fries Award always delivers something unexpected,” says Goldspink. “The artists display extraordinary imagination and take risks and I know everyone will be keenly watching and waiting for this year’s exhibition at Galleries UNSW, COFA."
"It's a fantastic celebration of the strength and diversity of Australasian emerging art!”

The prize was established by the Fries family in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation.

Judges for the 2014 award are: Sebastian Goldspink, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Jess Olivieri, Kath Fries and Megan Cope. 
JFA 2014 sponsors include: International Art Services, 10 group, Little Creatures Brewery and Small Acres Cyder.

Chippendale New World Art Prize, 8 - 24 May 2014

I'm one of the finalists in the 2014 Chippendale New World Art Prize, opening Thursday 8th May 6-8pm. The selected artworks all respond to the theme of Utopia, individual perceptions and interpretations of a 'New World'.

Chippendale New World Art Prize invitation

Philanthropist and Chairman of Frasers Property Australia Dr Stanley Quek will announce the winner at 7pm. Judged by Archibald Winner Del Kathryn Barton and Dean and Director of COFA Ross Harley, the prize is a three month residency grant at Joya:arte+ecologĂ­a in Spain.

The exhibition will span three locations: NG Art Gallery; L1 Central Pop Up Gallery; Carlton Street, Park Lane Pop-Up Gallery. www.chippendalecreative.com/2014-chippendale-new-world-art-prize-finalists

Chippendale New World Art Prize map of locations and artists

My entry, Whisper conjures a yearning for continuous serenity, which can sometimes be found - only momentarily - in the quiet contemplation of nature. This self-contained intimate installation features a dissected clay vessel containing video footage of water flowing slowly past a tranquil riverbank, reflecting the trees and sky above. Externally this dull brown clay object is as unremarkable as the mythical genie’s bottle, camouflaged as everyday clutter and quickly dismissed by a casual passer-by. But projected within the vessel there is a continuous moment of quiet mediative contemplation, an idyllic notion of Utopia where one is able to attain this human desire to be at one with nature. Whisper’s hand-made, hand-sized receptacle lends a personal embodied notion of physically touching and holding this particular moment of engagement with the natural world. The video’s looped repetition takes this moment out of the flux and flow of time as we usually experience it. Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, said that you can never step in the same river twice, yet thousands of years later we still continue to aspire to pause the passage of time and search for a permanent state of perfection.

Kath Fries, Whisper, 2014
you can view the video component on line vimeo.com/92002590

Whisper will be exhibited at Carlton Street Park Lane Pop-Up Gallery, 8 - 24 May, as part of the Chippendale New World Art Prize.