My practice investigates ways that we are entangled with our material and immaterial surroundings through our senses, memories and relations. These creative processes of being attentive to embodied experiences can counter pervasive disconnectedness and apathy by nurturing care and compassion for all beings and for the Earth. Working with sculpture, installation and drawing techniques, I link playful sensate experiences that evoke direct empathetic experiences of our ecological interdependency. My art practice is underpinned by my mindfulness and meditation practices, embedded in Buddhist philosophies of impermanence, interconnection and compassion.
I often begin a project by intuitively responding to – and then more deeply researching – a particular material or site. This ranges from the regenerative capabilities and strange growth of oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus Ostreatus); to the aroma and tactility of beeswax produced by the western honeybee (Apis Mellifera); dancing airborne milkweed seeds (Asclepias); simmering bark layers of silver birch (Betula pendula), and tangled aerial roots of the weeping fig (Ficus Hillii). Working with these materials involves co-creating with them to open up new poetic understandings about inter-species relations. Similarly I adopt a sensitive-responsive strategy when creating temporal site-responsive works, from the quiet snow-blanketed countryside around Arteles in Haukijärvi, Finland on Sámi land; to the enchanting Auburn Botanic Gardens NSW on Darug land; the underground Coal Loader tunnels in Waverton NSW on Cammeraygal land; hanging swamps in the sandstone escarpments of Wollemi National Park NSW on Darkingung and Darug land; the cornfields at Talemore Park Indiana USA on Pottawatomie land; heritage conveyance buildings in Fremantle WA on Whadjuk land; historical jail cells in The Lock-Up Museum Newcastle NSW on Awabakal and Worimi land; and the dry lakebed of Weereewa (Lake George) NSW on Ngunawal land. My consideration of quiet nuances within ecologies of place and materials is magnified in the work I create and invites the viewer into embodied and emotional understandings about how we are inextricably part of our surroundings and the lively matter-flows of the Earth’s biosphere.
Kath Fries is a Sydney-based artist and curator. In 2018 she was awarded a PhD from Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University for her practice lead research ‘Touching Impermanence’. Fries also has a Master of Visual Art (2010) from Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University; and a Bachelor of Fine Art with Honours (2002) from the College of Fine Arts, University of NSW. She won the 2017 North Sydney Art Prize Sculpture Award; and was awarded a 2014-2017 Australian Post Graduate Award by Sydney University; in 2015 she was awarded an Ian Potter Cultural Trust Early Career International Project Grant; and has received several Create NSW & NAVA NSW Artists’ Grants 2017, 2015, 2012; in 2011 she was awarded a ArtStart Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts, and in 2010 she won the Japan Foundation New Artist Award. Fries exhibits widely and has participated in a number of artist-in-residence programs in Australia and internationally. Fries curated Future Stratigraphy 2016 for SCA Galleries and has been the guest curator for HIDDEN Sculpture Walk in Rookwood Cemetery since 2019. Over the past twelve years Fries has also worked as an arts researcher, lecturer, tutor, writer, Viscopy board member and as a mentor to emerging artists. She is the founder and director of the John Fries Award and the Gunyah artists-in-residence program NSW. CV link