8 May 2021 - 29 May 2021

Kath Fries // Embrace

Kath Fries is a Sydney-based artist, writer, curator and researcher. Her work explores human entanglement with our material and immaterial surroundings, through our senses, memories and relations. Her current exhibition, Embrace at Our Neon Foe in Leichhardt, investigates material metaphors of interconnectedness, change and continuance.

“Playfully combining weathered palings and gnarled plywood with recycled textile felt, fungi, beeswax and bark, Embrace conjures sensuous co-creative narratives of growth and decay. My process of teasing out and entwining mycelium-like felt threads, growing mushrooms and tracing tree rings in old plywood, focuses on the immediate connectivity of touch, which then expands further to embrace entangled ecological interdependencies.”

Kath Fries

An abandoned slice of ply, gleaned from the back streets of St Peters sits front and centre, hinged, standing tall and striated with textile felt – the kind you might find wrapped around an itinerant wardrobe en route to a new home. Man-made texture sprouts from the timber as if alive, its bruise-like hue jarring yet softly cosy, the blues, pinks and magenta of the thread like veins in ageing skin. Next to it, a packing blanket swaddles the wall, veins of white paint visible contours in its relief.

When inSIGHT asks the artist why she chose to use recycled textile felt, she explains that it is symbolic of the woven ecology of the natural world, and she is intrigued by the way it pulls apart and yet clings together, alive with static. It is seemingly so at odds with the raw sprouting life of the natural environment that Fries considers in her work, and yet its warm embrace adds an entirely new element to this collection. As with the mysterious realms of the fungi kingdom, this element is little explored and ripe for adaption.

Other works in this exhibition sprout living kingdoms; tan oyster mushrooms bloom from sawdust, mycelium traces the woodgrain of hardwood blocks, and Tasmanian Coral Tooth fungi (Hericium coralloides, above) hangs from felt and angophora bark, its alien, underwater beauty growing in front of your eyes.

These works take up to two weeks to seed and grow, and once alive, exist with fleeting impermanence, an ephemeral wonder that is a privilege to witness.

“I like making work that takes on a life of its own – mycelium has a whole kingdom of life unto itself, laced with mystery, and my work develops with its own agency long after I have created it. My art practice is underpinned by my mindfulness and meditation practices, embedded in Buddhist philosophies of impermanence, interconnection and compassion. Working with sculpture, installation and drawing techniques, I link playful sensate experiences that evoke direct empathetic experiences of our ecological interdependency.

Kath Fries

See for yourself every Saturday arvo at Our Neon Foe in Leichhardt:

Saturday 15 May 2-5pm

Saturday 22 May 2-5pm

Saturday 29 May 2-5pm

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