Kath Fries lives on the unceded lands of the Wangal and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. She has a PhD from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney and has been awarded grants from the Australia Council for the Arts, the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, the Japan Foundation and NAVA. Kath has been artist in residence at Taleamor Park, LaPorte, USA; Arteles Creative Centre, Finland; BigCi, Bilpin NSW; Fremantle Art Centre, WA; Fairfield Museum, NSW; Hill End, NSW; Bundanon Trust, NSW; The Lock-Up Museum, Newcastle NSW and Laughing Waters, VIC. She has recently exhibited in No Show at Carriageworks, Embrace at Our Neon Foe Leichhardt, Companions at PARI Parramatta, Raw Clay Lab at Eramboo Terrey Hills, Occupied at Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Introversion at Articulate Leichhardt, Super-organism at Kudos Gallery Darlinghurst, Entanglements at Peacock Gallery Auburn, and Siteworks at Bundanon.
A refuge is a place of safety and shelter. These bamboo and rope ladders conjure childhood memories of playing in trees, safely out of reach of adults. But they are not for climbing; instead these structures offer refuge to insects, housing spaces for solitary native bees to nest. Kath is fascinated by insects and their importance in sustaining biodiverse ecologies, but worldwide the insect biomass is rapidly declining. Habitat regeneration is one counter measure; in this sense, ‘Refuge’ is a ‘bee hotel’. It is also a refuge for our reflection on our complex biodiverse relationships, mindfully being present with the vibrant sentience of our surroundings. Thank you to Claire Carpenter, Aryadharma Matheson, Terry Burrows, Kandos Crop and Swap, the Mudgee Bee Project and WEAVE Parramatta, a program of Parramatta Artists’ Studios
Kath’s practice involves finding sensory ways of reconnecting with our material and immaterial surroundings. She considers her creative process to be co-creative, as it is tactile and material-lead, working with natural, growing, changing materials. The quiet attentiveness of these processes evolves into a fluid conversation between the materials, herself, time and place. In this way, Kath’s work evokes poetic material metaphors, which extend into empathetic understandings of interconnectedness. By developing playful sensory encounters and relationships in the work, different perspectives about our ecological interdependencies unfold, challenging ingrained assumptions of human dominance and disconnection. On a foundational level her creative practice is informed by mindfulness and meditation practices, embedded in Buddhist philosophies of impermanence, interconnection, and compassion. These understandings about our entangled existence focus creative engagements with layered histories, complex biodiversity, sentient matter-flow, circular system-thinking, and embodied experiences.