John Fries Award 2015 call for entries

The John Fries Award 2015 is currently calling for entries from Australian and New Zealand emerging and early career artists. Aiming to encompass the multiplicity of contemporary practice, the award is open to artists of any age, working in all mediums - from painting to conceptual art - to performance and photography.

John Fries Award 2015 call for entries poster, featuring the 2014 winning work:
Bridie Lunney, This Endless Becoming, (James Lunney & Lily Paskas), 2013.

This year I'll be joined on the judging panel by our guest curator, Oliver Watts; Head of International Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Justin Paton; and two acclaimed Australian contemporary artists Fiona Foley and Nell. more info

The $10,000 prize money for this annual non-acquisitive award is donated by my family in memory of my late father, John Fries, a Viscopy director who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation. The exhibition and award is administered by Copyright Agency | Viscopy, who I have worked with closely since 2009, to develop the award into a unique platform presenting the most engaging and experimental works by emerging and early career artists from Australia and New Zealand.

Video - JFA curator Oliver Watts talks about the kinds of things he's 
looking for in the entries to the John Fries Award 2015. link

In 2015 Viscopy is pleased to be paying all finalists an artist fee at NAVA recommended rates and will also assist with freight costs to support artists from interstate and New Zealand.

The finalists’ work will feature in a month-long exhibition to be held during September 2015 at UNSW Galleries at UNSW Art & Design – the Award’s presenting partner for the second year running. This continued partnership reflects both Copyright Agency | Viscopy and UNSW Art & Design’s desire to build a professional and resilient creative economy through recognising outstanding talent in the emerging arts sector.

Call for 2015 entries - featuring work by John Fries Award 2014 finalists:
Heath Franco, Bridie Lunney, Abdul Abdullah, Tim Bruniges, Omar Chowdhury

Entries close 19 February 2015

Paramor Prize Finalist: Casula Powerhouse

Kath Fries, Bind, 2013, bronze, sisal and beeswax, 52x126x92cm

My bronze sculpture, Bind, has been selected as a finalist for the inaugural Paramor Prize at Casual Powerhouse Arts Centre. This award has been launched in memory of the artist Wendy Paramor (1938-1975) and aims to encourage new ways of seeing, experiencing and interpreting the world around us.

Bind imitates that change is inevitable, despite human persistence at trying to halt its progress. Cast in bronze, the twisting growth of this magnolia branch is permanently paused just on the point of blooming, the small buds are representative of life and its possibility, symbolising of the fleetingness of time. The branch was cast directly into bronze using a ‘lost wax’ technique, which burns the branch from the inside outwards replacing the impermanent wood and fibres with metal, rendering temporal growing shapes into static forms. This casting process demands an act of destruction, so the original living form no longer exists and all that remains is an inert object. Sisal rope  tightly wrapped around the central stem of the branch is sealed with beeswax, physically conveying further attempts at constraining, sealing and holding still the changing nature of the growing branch. As such Bind metaphorically reflects our frequent human endeavours to render permanent that which is impermanent, and the futility of attempting to influence the progression of time.

Finalists: Marian Abboud, 
Tim Andrew, 
Clark Beumont, 
Damien Butler, 
Penelope Cain, 
Carla Cecson, 
Simon Alexander Cook and Geoff Sellman, 
Gary Deirmendjian, 
James Dodd, 
Jacquelene Drinkall, 
Kath Fries, 
Sarah Goffman, 
Tim Gregory, 
Freya Jobbins, 
Yvette Hamilton, 
Joanne Handley 
Ash Keating, 
Karena Keys, 
Rosalind Lemoh, 
Owen Leong, 
Leon Lester, 
Liana Lewis, 
Lorraine Maggs, 
Megan McPherson, 
Louise Paramor, 
Katy B Plummer, 
The Polka Dot Sisters (Sally Atkins and Kate Stewart), 
Diego Ramirez, 
Merri Randell, 
Erica Seccombe, 
Paul Snell, 
Susannah Strati, 
Ioulia Terizi, 
Mimi Tong, 
Frank Trimarchi, 
Undrawing the Line (Zanny Begg), 
Carla and Lisa Wherby, 
Julie Williams, 
Gabriella and Brent Wilson, 
Jason Wing.

Paramor Prize opening invitation, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

31 January – 15 March 2015
Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre
1 Powerhouse Road, Casula NSW 2170
(Enter via Shepherd Street Liverpool)
Monday to Sunday 10am - 5pm

Silence Awareness Existence February residency at Arteles Creative Center, Finland

In February I will be joining the Silence Awareness Existence international group residency, at Arteles Creative Centre, Haukij√§rvi Finland This residency will enable me to research how our awareness of our sensory engagements with our surroundings are experienced in such an extreme and specific time and place. I plan to create new ephemeral installation work in response to the unique climate and landscape of Finland, working alongside a diverse range of participating international artists whose work also focuses on the themes of silence, awareness and existence.

The Silence Awareness Existence residency takes place in the extreme weather conditions of February, one of the darkest months of the Finnish winter, which is an essential factor of this unique group residency structured to deepen our thinking and practices responding to the sensory impact of time and place. The residency’s themes resonate in my creative process of quiet contemplation and tactile engagement with my surroundings. Working with the site, trace and ephemeral natural materials I will be researching circadian rhythms, how we experience time in relation to sunlight, and how these sensory influences - temperature, low light and muffled sound - can become embodied experiences in art practice.

In several of my recent projects, I've focused on the duration and movement of sunlight and shadows, permeating interior spaces to track a visual, natural awareness of the passage of time. The cold dark snowy winter of February in Finland will be a stark contrast to the hot bright summer Februaries in Sydney, and this will be key to my project. The lack of sunlight in the Finnish winter causes most creatures, even insects like honeybees, to hibernate. Beeswax as material and honeybees as metaphor, feature prominently in my work, and the agricultural farmland around Arteles will be essential to my research about honeybees in Finland. Honeybees communicate the position of the sun through their waggle dances telling other foraging bees flower locations; they are obsessive about sealing up cracks in their hives, and experts at storing honey for the colony’s survival in winter. Like honeybees in winter, humans spend most of their time indoors, sealing themselves into interior sanctuaries protected from harsh external elements.

Much of my work explores how humans are inextricably part of nature; we are fragile and vulnerable, despite our ceaseless efforts to separate and contain nature and natural cycles. I am interested in experiencing this human containment as it manifests in a Finnish winter, when the necessity of keeping nature outdoors becomes truly essential for survival. To some extent the outside environment will always permeate our interior spaces, as sunlight and ice on windows, and draughts through cracks in the walls and around doorways. These uncontainable natural elements will influence how I experience and document my physical and mental adjustments to Finnish winter sensory experiences, which dramatically contrast Sydney’s February summer climate.

I’m looking forward to meeting the other nine international artists on this residency who all work with the themes of silence, awareness and existence in their practices. We'll be  sharing our experiences of the time and place of Arteles in winter, and discussing how it informs our practices. This will be my first overseas residency, my first visit to Finland and first experience of a northern Scandinavian winter!

Ian Potter Cultural Trust recent grants -

Thank you to Ian Potter Cultural Trust for their supporting grant to take up this important  overseas professional development opportunity; to Arteles for their resident grant covering half the program fee; to the SCA Postgraduate Support Scheme for assisting with my field research at  Arteles, which will inform my PhD; and to Arts NSW's Artists' Grant Scheme, a devolved funding program administered by the National Association of the Visual Arts on behalf of the NSW Government

I'm going to post updates here on my studio blog while I'm in Finland, so you can read about my experiences and see my Silence Awareness Existence project as it develops. 

Research preparation - YouTube video of honeybees hibernating during winter in Finland (link). Interesting... however beekeepers wouldn't usually open a hive during winter as the honeybee colony will die if exposed to the cold for too long. During winter honeybees hibernate - they don't leave the hive. Instead they all huddle together in the naturally insulated centre of the hive, they survive by eating their stores of honey and vibrating their wings to keep warm. 

Divest installation at Articulate Project Space

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax, ash and wooden pillar,
Articulate Project Space, detail view

As part of the group exhibition Articulate Turns Four: Colour, Form, Line, I'm exhibiting one of my Divest installations. This site-responsive work is made of beeswax and ash, interpreting the exhibition's themes of line and form - as the vertical line of the pillar and the cylindrical forms of the beeswax polyps. This work explores uncontainablity and seeping intersections between artifice and nature. Beeswax polyp forms cluster within an upright crevice of the gallery, seemingly seeping outwards to gradually invade the space. These aromatic translucent shapes suggest embodied presence but their surfaces are smattered with ash, which in turn conjures a sense of uneasiness, vulnerability and loss.

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax, ash and wooden pillar, 
Articulate Project Space, 280x30x10cm

Colour, Form, Line is a theme-based group show curated by William Seeto for the end-of-year annual exhibition titled Articulate Turns Four. The exhibition theme of colour, form and line sets the context by providing a framework that enables discourse, and offers a means of connecting diverse art practices.

Featuring work by: Lisa Andrew, Elizabeth Ashburn, Clementine Barnes, Lynne Barwick, Linden Braye, Brogan Brunt, Sue Callanan, Andy Chi Yau Chan, Shirley Cho, Clara Chung, Vivienne Dadour, Ella Dreyfus, Judith Duquemin, Edwin Easydorchik, Michele Elliott, Nola Farman, Kath Fries, Brigitta Gallaher, Jane Gavan, Beata Geyer, Anne Graham, Veronica Habib, Yvette Hamilton, Laine Hogarty, Adrian Hall, Barbara Halnan, Sahar Hosseinabadi, Tom Issacs, Melissa Maree, Rose Ann McGreevy, Anne Mosey, Christine Myerscough, Jennifer O’Brien, Sue Pedley, Sergio Plata, Jacek Przybyszewski, Christopher Raymond, Margaret Roberts, Marlene Sarroff, Kevin Sheehan, Andrew Simmons, Sardar Sinjawi, Anke Stacker, Paul Sutton, Jane Burton Taylor, Toni Warburton, Gary Warner, Cecilia White, Elke Wohlfahrt, India Zeghan.

Articulate Project Space
497 Parramatta Rd, Leichhardt NSW
Articulate Turns Four: Colour, Form, Line
Curated by William Seeto
Opening event: 19 December, 6-8pm
Open hours: 11am-5pm, 20-28 December 
(closed 25 & 26 December)

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax, ash and wooden pillar, 
Articulate Project Space, detail view

Branch Window Gallery - 'Decant' installation

Kath Fries, Decant, 2014, ceramic, ink and video projection, detail view

My Decant project is currently installed in Branch Window Gallery, and can be viewed from the footpath at 26 Ross Street Forest Lodge, everyday 9am-8pm, until 3 January 2015.

Kath Fries, Decant, 2014, ceramic, ink and video projection, 40 x 80 x 170 cm

Decant is an installation of broken and semi-disolved ceramic fragments, stacked like a pile of rubble or sediment falling and settling to the bottom of a container of liquid. Video footage of a slow flowing creek's tranquil reflections is projected in one of the objects, conjuring the presence of nature, erosion and cycles of disintegration and renewal. To decant is to pour the liquid out of a container and leave the sediment behind. In this project I've worked with the process and metaphor of decanting to explore how the passage of time and containment of memories can be poetically reflected in the residue and trace of pouring water.

Kath Fries, Decant, 2014, ceramic, ink and video projection, 40 x 80 x 170 cm, 
photograph by Sarah Nolan, Branch Window Gallery

This project began last year, in response to two ceramic objects from the Fairfield Museum collection, which were found on the banks of nearby Prospect Creek in 1985, where they had been buried since the turn of the century. The ewers are thought to have been swept downstream during a flood, from a home of a Chinese market gardener, who lived and worked on the rich alluvial soil of the creek. Holding soy sauce and rice wine, these objects would have been cherished vessels, handled and used daily, a nostalgic and important reminder of home. Very little information was officially recorded about Fairfield's Chinese market gardeners, due to prevalent racist attitudes and the White Australia Policy at that time. The ewers are the only tangible record that Fairfield Museum has to signify the importance of these people in the history of the local community. However, today Fairfield municipal council proudly boasts having the most diverse multicultural population in all of Australia.

Kath Fries, Decant, 2014, ceramic and ink, detail view

In Decant, the ewers have been interpreted as containers of memory, imbued with stories that were not officially recorded, but which can still be sensed when holding the vessels. There is a strong embodied nostalgia, a felt tactile interconnection across time and place, evident in these plain everyday utilitarian objects. This sentiment resonated through my process of casting and recreating the ewers into a series of replicas, which were intentionally kept fragile and unfired, then dissected, semi-dissolved and broken as if to reveal the narratives held within. One segment shows video footage of the slow flowing, tranquil reflections of Prospect Creek. This small flickering light conjures the creek as part of an ancient watercourse that is constantly changing, drawing the viewer into a state of quiet contemplation about the primal importance of water, as both nurturing and destructive, throughout the world. 

Kath Fries, Decant, 2014, ceramic, ink and video projection, detail view, 
photograph by Sarah Nolan, Branch Window Gallery

For more information about this project please see www.kathfries/Decant-2014 and my studio process

Decant is on view at Branch Window Gallery
26 Ross Street, Forest Lodge NSW 2037
9am - 8pm everyday 7 Dec 2014 - 3 Jan 2015

Branch Window Gallery invitation

Fishers Ghost Award Finalist - Decant installation

Kath Fries, Decant, 2014, ceramic and video projection

An installation of my ceramic and video projection, from my Decant project, is currently being exhibited in the Fishers Ghost Award. 

Fisher's Ghost Art Award Invitation

Fisher's Ghost Art Award Finalists Exhibition: 25 Oct - 14 Dec 2014
Campbelltown Arts Centre, 1 Art Gallery Rd, Campbelltown NSW

Gunyah artists in residence program - call for applications

As you may know, I co-ordinate the Gunyah artists in residence program in North Arm Cove, Port Stephens NSW. Applications are currently open for the 2015 program, which offers artists a retreat type of residency with low cost accommodation for self-directed solo, collaborative, group and family projects. 

Gunyah house
Gunyah is a unique timber pole house, overlooking a peaceful bushland garden and the beautiful waterways of Port Stephens. The Gunyah property is owned and maintained privately by a group of friends and their families who built the house over thirty years ago. Since 2011 the AIR program has been an artist run, volunteer based, not for profit venture, aiming to share this special place and the inspiring region of Port Stephens.

The 2015 Gunyah AIR program will feature seven residencies, each lasting eleven days. 
Visual artists, writers, composers, performance and new media artists, curators, designers, arts administrators and other creators are encouraged to apply for solo, collaborative, group and family residencies. 
Application details - 
Applications close 30 November 2014

Divest - window installation Fremantle Arts Centre

During my residency with Fremantle Arts Centre this month, I've been developing my Divest beeswax installation project and playing with different ways that this work can inhabit various spaces. I wanted to try and embed the funnels so they grew seamlessly out of the vertical surface of the window, and I found that the warm beeswax is malleable enough to stretch out into a thin marbled, dimpled, translucent membrane. When spread across the diamond grid of the leadlight window, bright sunlight from outside is filtered and softened - almost like being inside a living eggshell. I was equally fascinated by the way that the beeswax membrane peeled off the window like a skin being shed, and the funnels left behind intriguing subtle trace, like ghostly footprints on the old glass surfaces.

Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest - trace, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest - trace, 2014, beeswax installation, FAC studio
Kath Fries, Divest - trace, 2014, beeswax installation , FAC studio

Weathering - changing light, changing stone: Fremantle residency

Detail view of eroding stone wall, Arthur's Head, Fremantle WA

A few locals have asked me why I wanted to do a residency in Fremantle. I think residencies are always valuable in terms of having concentrated time to focus on researching and making, but the place and location of the residency is also an important deciding factor for me. When I first visited Fremantle in 2009 I was only here for a day, but I remember being intrigued by the beautiful old crumbling, sensitively-restored colonial buildings clustered around the port. I wanted to return, spend some more time here and get a better feel for the place. And this residency with Fremantle Arts Centre is allowing me to do exactly that, to experience and think more deeply about what it is in these tactile, weathered and eroded surfaces that conveys the irrepressible impermanence of existence.

Layers of history run deeply within these restored surfaces. Colonial attitudes of staking claims of ownership; indiscriminate exploitation, decimation and dispossession of the local Indigenous population; prisoners subjected to cruel punishments and deprivations; and the harsh exploitation of free convict labour, were all key factors in building these structures and form the history of this place. Such uncomfortable past complexities are enmeshed in the materiality of Fremantle's heritage, constantly rising to the surface in various ways - they can't and wont be ignored or plastered over. The visible materiality of these walls, made of local stone, tell actual stories of their creation through their  geology and convict pick marks, as well as suggesting permeating metaphors for other histories that are more immaterial or usually hidden from view. 

Heritage stone walls, Arthur's Head and Fremantle Arts Centre

The past always manifests in how we experience the present, but often this is more apparent to us in historical locations that we can touch, identify and measure with names, dates and written records. Ceaseless human efforts to restore and repair erosion and weathering always interest me, in both old buildings and new. But there is something particularly poetic in these futile, valiant efforts to continually patch up the old stone heritage structures in Fremantle - some of the walls appear to be more mortar than stone. Worn away from weathering inside and out - floods, rising damp, unstable ground and changing sea levels are altering them internally, as much as the sun, wind and rain wear away their external surfaces. These fragile old textures have a fascinating vitality to them, the act of restoring and repairing demonstrates value and respect for materials, architecture, craftsmanship and history.

Sunset at Bathers Beach, Fremantle

My interest in impermanence and the passage of time manifests in the porousness and tactility of the materials I work with. Exploring how a material, object or experience can straddle more than one state of being and seemingly exist in more than one place at a time, is a leading premise in my practice. This porousness and flux is resonating throughout my experience of being in Fremantle, particularly at the end of the day when I walk down the road to the artificial harbour and man-made groynes, and watch the sunset over the expansive horizon of the Indian Ocean. Dusk is a magical part of the day, bookending a regular and particular passage of time with a spectacular change from daylight to colourful brilliance followed by twilight and the darkness of nighttime. The sunset colours are beautiful, but it is the rhythm and changing cycle of watching the sun set in this location almost everyday, and everyday different, which manifests in a profound and poetic way of contemplating our days, even as time constantly slips between and beyond those idealised measuring containers we try to keep it in.

Sunset at South Mole Lighthouse, Fremantle

The futility of chasing, trying to capture and hold onto things that change, is a constant activity in our lives. We try continuously to make objects, monuments and buildings that will last, we grasp onto moments and things that will all inevitably change and fade. But it is because they change and fade that these moments are beautifully impermanent and yet we want to cling to them and hold them still. My snapshots of sunsets echo this notion of futility, of trying to grasp the fleeting moment of beauty - even as it fades from view - to be remembered in a trace of digital pixels, which will soon become overlaid, irrelevant and ubiquitous.

Sunset at Arthur's Head, Fremantle