HIDDEN Rookwood Sculpture Walk 2019

This year I'm curating the HIDDEN exhibitions in Rookwood Cemetery, 7 September to 7 October 2019, open sunrise to sunset. 

Please join me for the opening event, Saturday 7 September 3-6pm RSVPor for one of my curator’s tours with some of the artists 10.30am-12.30pm Saturday 14 September, Saturday 28 September and Sunday 6 October RSVP

HIDDEN 2019 invites you on a contemplative and creative journey through one of the oldest sections of Rookwood Cemetery. Find your own pathways and connections, guided by site-responsive artworks engaging with the layered narratives and heritage of this special place. Experience handling cemetery soil, ritualised remembrances, heart-felt emotions and personal stories of memory and loss. Consider reflections on everyday life shaped by the inevitability of death, which resonates into the ways we choose to live, love, fear, believe and hope. 

Jewish, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim traditions inform several of these works, others draw on atheist, agnostic and broader spiritualties: reflecting the cultural, social and religious diversity of Western Sydney today. Our cycles of life – from birth to death – are entangled with the people, places and ecologies of the world we live in. Some of these artworks address a poignant sense of mourning environmental deaths, escalating extinctions and the pervasiveness of our climate crisis, prompting consideration about what it means to be alive here and now. 

Farewelling loved ones and returning their remains to the Earth is significant in all cultures throughout history. Here on Dharug country, it is important to remember the vast scope of human spiritual and physical connection to this place, stretching back tens of thousands of years. Many of the HIDDEN 2019 artists reflect on their families’ immigration history, from Pakistan, Ireland, Canada, Sri Lanka, Loa, Iraq and China. Travel continues as several of our artists are on residencies in Japan, USA, Germany and Indonesia, while others live in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Norway. Congratulations to all of the artists, it has been a pleasure working with you and the team at Rookwood. I’ve greatly appreciated the stories, memories and responses to place that you have shared with me over the past few months. 

HIDDEN Sculptures 
Anney Bounpraseuth, Audrey Newton, Barak Zelig, Cameron Stanton & Rachael Lafferty, Claire Tennant, Cybele Cox, Emma Devine & Samantha Kirby, Gillian Kayrooz, Helen Earl, Hilde Angel Danielsen, Pentagon Corridors, Jane Gillings & Irene Traucki, Julie Monro-Allison, Karmyn Gibson, Lachlan Warner, Leon Lester, Linda Brescia, Lisa Tolcher, Lisa Andrew & Rachel Buckeridge, Louise Morgan, Ludwig Mlcek, Liz O'Reilly, Mandy Burgess & Ro Murray, Marina Robins, Mimi Dennett, Nadia Odlum, Nerine Martini, Nuha Saad, Paul Greedy, Polly Williams, Priscilla Bourne, Renuka Fernando, Sharon Risdale, Sylvia Griffin, Tammy Wong Hulbert and Wesley Harrop.

HIDDEN Students
Rouse Hill High School, Cabramatta High School, Barker College, MLC School Burwood, L&L Riverwood Creative Community, Anne Leung ACU Strathfield, Harry Copas and Emma Sargent UNSW Art & Design Paddington.

Cigdem Aydemir, Cynthia Schwertsik, Dante Lee, Jacqui Mills, Penelope Cain, Peter Kozak, Peachey & Mosig, Simon Bare and Spike Deane.

HIDDEN Curator
Kath Fries

Entanglements catalogue

Download 'Entanglements' catalogue pdf link
Thank you to Kristina Tito for the foreword; Rebecca Shanahan for the essay; Ellen Dahl for the documentation photographs; Michelle Tran for the design; and the Peacock Gallery Staff for their assistance and support. 

Entanglements - World in a Room

Kath Fries, Entanglements, 2019, detail view of work in progress

World in a Room

Pause a minute to inhale and exhale. Inhale again, this time apprehending that for all our specific and nuanced words for looking, there are far fewer equivalent words for smelling. Draw in the rich, animalic aroma of mushrooms, past your skin’s bounds to deep within you. It’s of you, and you are of it. It’s all connected. It’s all now.

Interconnectivity and co-creation between Kath Fries and living material has generated Entanglements. Recycled industrial felt, its past fibre life still distinctly evident, has been curved, twined, and rubbed between the artist’s palms to form new branches, tendrils, and capillaries. Fungus-forming mycelium reaches through the felt to spawn new lives, the mushrooms’ colouration uncannily reflecting a thread here, a tuft there. Curious shards have been recuperated from an alternate junk-heap fate. With both rough and smooth surfaces, these fragments speak simultaneously of interiority and exteriority, of positive and negative spaces, form and void. These aren’t binary states, but rather suggest a permeating wholeness: a galaxy of connection expanding across the gallery and down into the microcosmic worlds of the terraria that house the fungi. Death and life are intermingled; in Fries’ vocabulary, the underworld that the ancient Greeks feared teems with creation, mirroring the world of light above. 

Late capitalism has deeded us the Anthropocene era in which the things we produce, consume, and discard cause universal damage. Fries’ holistic comprehension of life counters this focus on individual gain achieved at all costs, including unchecked growth and oppression. An artwork doesn’t need to be monumental to be deeply materialised, nor does it need to be tradable to be significant. Entanglements models an alternative mode of being to capitalism’s products: a quiet, democratic attentiveness to the infinite and crucial interrelationships that comprise us all. Step closer. Pick your way through the works on the floor. Notice where your feet fall. Feel the forms. This consideration of somatic experience proposes a coming to understanding through haptic values. In this way of thinking, spectatorship–remember all those words for seeing–is only one way to attend, reflect, and understand. In navigating both the greater world and works of art via multisensory perception, we gain the opportunity to recognise our interrelationships with all things.   

At the core of Fries’ work lies her Buddhist appreciation of impermanence. Entanglements reminds us that life is flux and the act of creativity is ongoing, ever-changing, and relational. Walking meditations led by Fries in the Auburn Botanic Gardens cultivate attention to the present (at polar remove from the Gardens’ annual cherry blossom Insta-frenzy). As Rebecca Solnit suggests, “Walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and the mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world.”[1]We might further consider that walking (through a garden, through an artwork) invites consciousness of the self’s integration with the world, and in this way points to some recognition that we are both more and less than ourselves

It’s a sad irony that as global extinctions accelerate, our understanding of its other forms of intelligence is deepening: plants learn through experience and warn one another of hazards; animals use tools and work cooperatively. Like these collective intelligences, Entanglements is a symbiotic co-creation with other species, coming into being through the artist’s careful tending. The words ‘tend’ and ‘attend’ derive from the same Latin root word. That which we bring our awareness to, we care for. Take care. Pay attention. Feel this. It’s all of us, and more than us.

Rebecca Shanahan

[1]Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of WalkingNew York: Viking, 2000, p 29.

Kath Fries
1 - 30 June 2019

Opening: Saturday 1 June, 1.30 - 3.30pm

Deaf-led tour and workshop: Saturday 15 June, 12pm

Artist talks and workshops: Sunday 30 June, 1.30pm

Peacock Gallery: Auburn Botanic Gardens, corner of Chiswick and Chisholm Roads, Auburn NSW 2144

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 4pm (closed Mondays)

Recent work with beeswax, led lights and paper

Kath Fries, Clamber 2019, beeswax, paper, neon flex led lights and false walls.
The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Clamber 2019, beeswax, paper, neon flex led lights and false walls, (detail view).
The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Clamber 2019, beeswax, paper, neon flex led lights and false walls, (detail view).
The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Clamber 2019 and Abode (fragile) 2019
The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Abode (fragile) 2019, beeswax, paper, charcoal, wood, neon flex led lights and prefab structure. The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Abode (fragile) 2019, beeswax, paper, charcoal, wood, neon flex led lights and prefab structure. The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Abode (fragile) 2019, beeswax, paper, charcoal, wood, neon flex led lights and prefab structure. The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Abode (fragile) 2019, beeswax, paper, charcoal, wood, neon flex led lights and prefab structure. The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Abode (fragile) 2019 and Abode (collapse) 2017-2019. The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Abode (collapse) 2017-2019, beeswax, wire, neon flex led lights and found structure, (detail view). The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Abode (collapse) 2017-2019, beeswax, wire, neon flex led lights and found structure, (detail view). The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Cluster 2017-2019, Abode (fragile) 2019 and Abode (collapse) 2019.
The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Cluster 2017-2019, beeswax, paper and led lights, (detail view). The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Cluster 2017-2019 and Abode (fragile) 2019.
The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, Cluster 2017-2019, Clamber 2019, and Abode (fragile) 2019.
The Matter of Objects and Materiality, Gallery Lane Cove. Photo by Ellen Dahl

A Material World: Art & The Ecology of Things

- exhibition essay by Rachael Kiang

The Matter of Objects and Materiality orchestrates encounters with material and object centric movements through the medium of art. Juxtaposing adaptations of new materialism with object oriented ontology, the exhibition investigates the tenability of these theoretical positions for contemporary art and the gallery experience. Beyond the interactions of theory and practice, the assembly of artworks poses a greater question – the role of art in fostering material literacy of the world we inhabit.

In the late twentieth century, a material turn swept across social sciences and humanities, emerging as a response to poststructuralism’s crises of representation. Shifting from a human-centric and linguistic framework of cultural analysis, social production is emphasized over social construction, enabled by a myriad of material forces “from the physical and the biological

to the psychological, social and cultural.”1 New Materialism,as this contemporary perspective of our world is known, is open and highly plural, evolving on different fronts and via various disciplines from architecture, visual arts and anthropology to biopolitics, international relations and political theory. The strand of New Materialism in focus for this project, subscribes to the notion that matter is lively and dynamic, that it possesses its own energies and means of transformation, rather than an inert entity that is acted upon.

Differing from historical materialism, which operates in vertical hierarchies of fixed closed systems, determinism and causality, New Materialism embraces a flat ontology, in which the distinction between subject/object, nature/culture, animate/inanimate are collapsed. It places a strong emphasis on relationality and shifting associations between matter, with a focus on process and becoming, in favour of state and being. In other words, they promote a democracy of horizontal flows, constant flux, transitions and indeterminate assemblages.2 What constitutes materiality is vast, ranging from “human bodies, other animate organisms, material things, inanimate objects to spaces, places and the natural and built environment that these contain, as well as material forces including gravity and time.”3

Like New Materialism, Object-Oriented Ontology similarly rejects human subjectivity and anthropocentrism. Objects refer to anything that is real or unreal, natural or artificial, animate or inanimate, human or non-human. Harman, the main proponent of this school of thinking, proposes to use “object” “in the broadest possible sense to designate anything with some sort of unitary reality.”4 Although often lumped together with other post human thought, Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) departs sharply from New Materialism (NM) in its objection to vitalist and relationist concepts of matter. Contingencies and change have no place in OOO for it emphasizes the true essence of objects, rooted in notions of permanence and stability. Objects from an OOO objective are not only autonomous but are withdrawn, inaccessible and cannot be known in its entirety. OOO is fundamentally a (speculative) realism where things exist in and of themselves, independent of other things though objects do relate to each other. Eschewing ethics and politics, an aesthetic approach towards metaphysics is adopted instead. “OOO considers art not as decoration, but as the fundamental operation of cause and effect. To make an artwork is to interfere directly with the realm of causes and effects.”5 Hence, OOO espouses the thingness of things and the individuality of the objects in its unique depth but stops short of any analysis of what lies behind it.

In contrast, New Materialism lends itself to the critical examination of how ethics, ontology and epistemology are connected via matter. New Materialism’s repositioning of the human in collaborative terms with nonhuman actants through a focus on the material provide the means of directing critical attention to the negative impact wrought by humans on the biophysical environment. Engaging with materiality and bodies offers the opportunity of resistance against dominant models of power.

It is in this context that The Matter of Objects & Materiality is situated. The exhibition sets out to discuss the prominence of the material and the object in several ways. At a theoretical level, it examines how artists in the show interpret, apply and advance New Materialism through their practice. A probing of New Materialism and Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) is set up through the juxtaposition of art responding to these theories. Curatorially, the question of what OOO could look like as an exhibition is posed. At an everyday level, it highlights how art can help engender an understanding of the material world.

Kath Fries’ material-led practice is a visualization of New Materialism in motion. Form and meaning of her works are shaped by the material of choice. She enacts situations where viewers interact and intra-act with site-responsive beeswax structures, producing relational embodied experiences. In her creative exchanges with beeswax, Kath teases out interconnecting factors to highlight the impact of human action on insect habitat and habitat loss.

Alia Parker perceives her work as an equal partnership with the animate but non-human agent, mushroom mycelium. Collaborating with the fungi, she (co)creates speculative textile forms to address the twin needs of care of human bodies and the material objects and the urgency to reduce environmentally harmful textile waste.

Kate Brown’s performative work and installation foregrounds the object and has associations with OOO. Interested in how the body produces sound, she sets up an arrangement where the body (human) object and the installation (seat belt webbing) object come together and interact at specific times. This creates a push and pull effect between the two objects and between the art-object and the viewer/human-object, described by OOO philosopher Tim Morton as “charisma”. By introducing Participation Mystique however, the tension between both ideologies is mirrored in Kate’s work by an interaction between the body-object and the installation object.

If viewed through the lens of New Materialism, the conglomeration of artworks are all relational and its interaction and intra-action with the viewer, in a constant state of change. From an Object-Oriented Ontological perspective, the artworks exist and interact with each other and with us, in spite of us, in all their mysterious, unfathomable glory.

What is the pertinence of the material, outside of the spheres of New Materialist and Object-Oriented Ontology? The relevance is in the potential of art, and this exhibition, to re-sensitize and re-orientate us to the material make-up of our world, to appreciate the basic material components of the things we consume everyday and to reflect on the impact of our actions on social and natural ecologies.

Rachael Kiang

The Matter of Objects and Materiality
6 - 30 March 2019, Gallery Lane Cove


1. Fox, N.J. and Alldred, P. (2018) New materialism. In: Atkinson, P.A., Delamont, S., Hardy, M.A. and Williams, M. (eds.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Research Methods. London: Sage.
2. Diana Coole’s Definition of New Materialist Ontology in her essay “ New Materialism: The Ontology and Politics of Materialisation”.
3. Fox, N.J. and Alldred, P. (2018) New materialism. In: Atkinson, P.A., Delamont, S., Hardy, M.A. and Williams, M. (eds.) The SAGE Encyclopedia of Research Methods. London: Sage.
4. Lemke, T. (2017) Materialism without matter: the recurrence of subjectivism in object oriented ontology. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, 18 (2) 2017, 133-152.
5. Tim Morton. https://artreview.com/features/november_2015_feature_timothy_morton_charisma_causality/

Link to download full catalogue booklet (11.2MB)

The Matter of Objects and Materiality

The Matter of Objects and Materiality is an exhibition of work by Kath Fries, Kate Brown and Alia Parker at Gallery Lane Cove, curated by Rachael Kiang for Art Month Sydney 6 - 30 March 2019. This group exhibition brings together three diverse practice-led research investigations into object aesthetics and the agency of the material. 

The Matter of Objects and Materiality
Kath Fries, Alia Parker, Kate Brown
6 - 30 March 2019

Opening Event: Wednesday 6 March, 6-8pm
Discussion Panel: Saturday 30 March 11am

Gallery Lane Cove
164 Longueville Road, Lane Cove NSW 2066
Mon-Fri 10am-4.30pm, Sat 10am-2.30pm

HIDDEN Rookwood 2019

This year I will be curating HIDDEN 2019 in Rookwood Cemetery!
The HIDDEN Rookwood Sculpture Walk is now in it's 11th year and the program is being expanded to include a video art exhibition and student work with HIDDEN Films and HIDDEN Students.

View of the oldest section of Rookwood Cemetery NSW rookwoodcemetery.com.au

HIDDEN Sculptures invites proposals for site-responsive works engaging with the layered narratives, multicultural histories, memories and rituals of Australia’s most historic cemetery. We’re interested in works that respond to diverse themes of history, culture, remembrance, love, cycles of life and the passage of time; and a wide range of artistic approaches, materials and forms. 

Joining me on the judging panel is independent curator Nanette Orly and Biennale artist Koji Ryui. Artists selected for HIDDEN Sculptures will be paid an artist fee of $500 + an additional $200 for artists over 200km away. 
The selected works will be installed amongst the gardens and graves in one of the oldest sections of Rookwood Cemetery for the 2019 HIDDEN Sculpture Walk, 7 September to 7 October, and considered for the $10,000 non-acquisitive 2019 Rookwood Cemetery Sculpture Award. For more information please see hiddeninrookwood.com.au or email me for more information - curator@rookwoodcemetery.com.au 

HIDDEN Rookwood Sculptures - PANEL

Curator: Dr. Kath Fries

Kath Fries is an artist, curator, researcher and writer. Last year she was awarded a PhD from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. Fries is interested in the shifting ways that our senses are entangled with our material and immaterial surroundings, specifically how site-responsive practices engage with layered histories to open up new perspectives involving present encounters and complex narratives that interconnect people and place. Fries has received several awards including the 2017 North Sydney Art Prize Sculpture Award and a 2014-2017 Australian Post-Graduate Award; as well as grants from the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, Australia Council for the Arts, Create NSW and NAVA. She exhibits widely and has participated in a number of artist-in-residence programs in Australia and internationally. Over the past twelve years Fries has been involved in artist run galleries, community spaces, local government initiatives and education institutions; working as an artist, researcher, arts administrator, lecturer, tutor, curator, writer, artist board member, judging panel member, and as a mentor to emerging artists. She is also the founder and chair of the John Fries Award for Early Career Artists and director of the Gunyah artists-in-residence program.

Judge: Nanette Orly

Nanette Orly is an independent curator whose curatorial practice is deeply engaged with themes surrounding identity development, cultural histories and offering alternative perceptions of contemporary society. Drawn to migratory aesthetics and research-based practices to form interdisciplinary group or collaborative exhibition concepts, Orly has curated exhibitions across a number of Sydney, regional and interstate galleries over the past five years. Recent curatorial projects include Transcendence (2018) at Firstdraft, Full Circle (2018) at The Lock-Up and 'that’s why I get so tired now' (2018) at Seventh Gallery in Melbourne. She is currently the Co-Director of artist run initiative Cold Cuts Project Space in Petersham and Board Member of the online publication Runway Australian Experiment Art. Orly has also been a successful participant in 4A Curators’ Intensive 2018 program in Sydney and was awarded the Project Curator of the Critical Animals Research Symposium 2018, at the The Lock-Up in Newcastle.

Judge: Koji Ryui

Koji Ryui is a well known Sydney artist. For last year’s Sydney Biennale, he presented a large-scale site-specific installation on Cockatoo Island, transforming everyday domestic objects into reverberating vessels, which created an extraordinary ethereal soundscape. Ryui has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at contemporary art galleries and museums including Artspace and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Gertrude Contemporary and MUMA, Melbourne, and PICA, Perth. In 2013 Ryui exhibited in Roppongi Crossing 2013: Out of Doubt, at Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan, which significantly marked his first exhibition in the country of his birth. Ryui also participated in Unmapping the End of the World with 14 other artists, a project interconnecting time, place, theory and emotion, which took them to three UNESCO World Heritage sites in different countries: the Willandra Lakes in Australia, the Kumano Kodo walk in Japan and the Valcamonica Rock Art sites of Italy. Ryui is represented by Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney.

The Masks We Wear - essay for Linda Brescia

“Sometimes we juggle masks, 
sometimes they just fall off.”

Cleaning is a guise, a mask that veils the imperfections of human living, hiding the detritus of everyday family life. Cleaning is always labour, predominantly women’s labour, even today, especially in the home.* Cleaning is usually care-work, but care-work is never just cleaning. 

Linda Brescia’s work engages with such dynamics of visibility and invisibility, masking, care and self-assertion. In October 2016, Brescia began caring for her sister who had a terminal illness. It was during this time that Brescia began coil weaving at her kitchen table with a roll of domestic cleaning cloths. The repetitive weaving process became therapeutic, lessening the emotional turmoil and tug-of-war between sadness, stress, love and frustration. Brescia felt the heavy responsibility, being stuck at home ‘holding up the sky’ – maintaining the mask of keeping her home a relatively normal and stable base for the rest of her family – whilst also confronting the illness, and then death, of her dearly beloved sister. Managing, somehow, to stay grounded through the ancient haptic female creativities of weaving and knitting. 

Linda Brescia hand coiling her Resilience Spiral sculpture in the FCMG studio

Grief sometimes forces our socially-adjusted masks to slip publicly, to be openly emotional, then even the most stoic may reach out to others for support. “Sometimes we juggle masks, sometimes they just fall off.”** Through her grief, Brescia extended her extreme knitting pieces into endurance processes, balanced by attending social knitting groups, Spin a Yarn at Fairfield City Museum & Gallery and Crafties Social Group in Canley Vale. There she met local women generously sharing their skills, knowledge, experiences and stories. Collectively they found shared connections in making – holding up the sky together – to care, support and to be supported. Women are not just holding up the sky, they are also reaching for the sky: for space where their voices can be heard, their stories told, their experiences valued, not just by each other but also more widely by society at large.

Linda Brescia, Fundamental requirement of play (Selfie 2), 2018
solvent ink and digital print
Brescia’s Holding up the sky exhibition interweaves these embodied experiences of textiles, cleaning, caring and labour. Working with hundreds of meters of domestic cleaning cloths, Brescia’s soft sculptures, Resilience spiral (2018) and Holding up the sky (2018), playfully disturb our assumptions about what is usually considered valuable or valueless. This engagement with notions of what should be concealed or revealed is synonymous with her extensive use of stockings and pantyhose as masks of appearance and disappearance. The photographs for The fundamental requirement of play, Selfie series (2018) were initially taken for and shared through Instagram; a social media platform variously self-curated into individual intimate online spaces of feminist activism and artist networking for some, for others it can become an addictive, anxiety-triggering domain filled by debilitating minefields of unrealistic body expectations. These selfie images present the artist’s face masked and partially obscured by stitched and cut stockings. Yet there is an assertive agency, claiming space in the act of taking a selfie, declaring ‘I am here’ and ‘I am visible’ to the world; or at least to whoever ends up seeing the image through the veiled obscurity of Instagram algorithms, preferences and advertising. This social media world, where the boundaries of public and private are blurred, is also a forum for Brescia’s performances wearing anaked female body painted onto stocking fabric and worn on the outside. Shown rather than hidden and performed in public settings and gallery events to confront and disturb social norms, these engagements challenge the audience to consider their own responses. 

Linda Brescia, Control brief, 2018, pantyhose and acrylic on wood panel
Pantyhose are traditionally metaphorical and actual masks, veiling imperfections, cleaning-up one’s appearance and constraining the female limbs into socially acceptable forms. In Control Brief (2018)Brescia has pulled and sewn pantyhose into masking layers over a painted portrait, gaging the face within; the binding fabric silences her voice. Although the social expectation of women being quiet and keeping their limbs concealed by pantyhose has somewhat faded over recent generations, the expectation of women masking their faces with make-up, botox and plastic surgery, has not. The social norm pushing women to present their bodies and behaviour as smoother, cleaner and more conformingly attractive – from facial expressions, body language, clothing and makeup – is as persistent as ever. Brescia further engages with this persistent expectation to reupholster one’s body and one’s home in Worth series (2018), with careful figurative posing and stitched fabrics. In contrast the photographed naked body in Respite series (2018), invites voyeuristic glimpses of the reality of a woman’s tired, scarred, naked, sensuous body, wrapped in a cocoon or shroud of knitted cleaning cloths. There is a felt raw tactility the bare skin meeting the synthetic mesh of the chain-mail woven cloths, which is both protective and suffocating. 

Linda Brescia, Resting (Worth series), 2018, acrylic and embroidery on cotton duck
Brescia’s work disturbs and challenges how we label and confront ingrained assumptions of women’s roles, their place in society and how women’s experiences are valued. Her play of masks, slippages between visibility and invisibility, engages a strong feminist voice with both current and long unresolved concerns in society about binary gender roles across the personal, familial, community and political spectrums. These works are personal and universal, embodied material experiences of the exhaustion and resilience of Holding up the sky.

Dr Kath Fries

* The 2016 Census shows the typical Australian woman spends between five and 14 hours a week doing unpaid domestic housework. For the typical Australian man it’s less than five hours a week. http://theconversation.com/census-2016-women-are-still-disadvantaged-by-the-amount-of-unpaid-housework-they-do-76008
** Linda Brescia conversation with Kath Fries, 2018
Linda Brescia, Respite, response, 2018, solvent ink digital print

Linda Brescia: Holding Up The Sky
24 Novemeber 2018 - 16 February 2019
Fairfield City Museum and Gallery
634 The Horsely Drive, Smithfield NSW 2164

Familiars exhibition documentation

Familiars exhibition, gallery view. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, INSIDIOUS LULL, 2018, single channel video, audio, magnolia, clay,  recycled-rag felt blanketing, mirror panels, sisal, beeswax and bronze. 
Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, INSIDIOUS LULL, 2018, single channel video, audio, magnolia, clay,
recycled-rag felt blanketing, mirror panels, sisal, beeswax and bronze
. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Katy B Plummer, THE CALL, 2018, video, sculpture, textiles, water, phone and disco balls. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, ABODE 2017-2018 and CLUSTER 2018, beeswax, light and air-dried oyster mushrooms. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, ABODE 2017-2018 and CLUSTER 2018, beeswax, light and air-dried oyster mushrooms. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, LIQUESCE, 2013, single channel video projected on ABODE 2017-2018, beeswax, wire and found object. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, ABODE 2017-2018, beeswax, air-dried oyster mushrooms, wire and found object. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, ABODE 2017-2018, (detail view) beeswax, air-dried oyster mushrooms, wire and found object. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, CLUSTER, 2018, beeswax and air-dried oyster mushrooms. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries, CLUSTER, 2018, (detail view), beeswax and air-dried oyster mushrooms. Photo by Ellen Dahl

Kath Fries & Katy B Plummer
AirSpace Projects Marrickville NSW
6 - 21 October 2018

Familiars delves into close relationships with other beings, from the human to the non-human, the material and the immaterial. Katy B Plummer and Kath Fries have found a synergy in their practices that resonates between darkly strange and seductively sweet. Such conjuring and co-creating with the familiar, accidental and uncanny involves embodied processes that unfold and enfold into open-ended narratives.

Traditionally ‘familiars' were associated with witches, such beings were companions and spies who assisted with enchantments and divining knowledge. Indeed, as female artists, Plummer and Fries draw on various feminist legacies of active creative knowledge, which differ from the masculine alchemist traditions seeking perfection; rather these women nurture, seduce, heal and enchant fictional and folkloric narratives into textured and mesmeric performative scenarios of aspiration, desire, mysteries and failings.

Slippery transitions between what is familiar and unfamiliar are navigated carefully as the artists probe into interconnections between the conscious mind and imagination, the normal and paranormal. Within these muffling felt-lined walls, there is a quiet spooky dance of refracted light interplaying with call of the crow and the telephone ring. Here combinations of familiar materials become uncanny, and complex corrupted characters evolve. The works invite various entangled storylines of both nurturing and toxicity between individuals and communities, societies and environments. These enchanting open-ended conversations and tangential insinuations continue to unravel and rhyme together into metaphors of experimentation and narrative.