Work in progress for Cementa Festival

Work in progress, Kath Fries, Refuge 2022, braided jute and bamboo

I’m creating a new outdoor work for Cementa Festival 22 in Kandos on Wiradjuri Country. My installation, Refuge, will be a series of braided jute and ladders installed in a tree, creating spaces for native bees and insects to nest, and inviting human reflection on our complex biodiverse relationships.

During the festival, you’re welcome to join me for a walking meditation, 9am Saturday 21 May, starting at my Refuge installation, 9 Angus Ave, Kandos. This artist-led group walking meditation will focus on mindfully being present with the vibrant sentience of our surroundings.

Work in progress, Refuge 2022, braided jute and bamboo

Cementa is a biennial festival of contemporary art, bringing together over 40 regional and urban artists for a four-day celebration of Australian contemporary art and the small town that hosts it: Kandos, on Wiradjuri Country, NSW. There will be videos, installations, sound works, performances and 2D/3D artworks in shopfronts, vacant lots, the scout hall, local museum and community centre, the golf course, front yards and public parks. Taking its regional situation as its focus, Cementa celebrates the rich diversity of voices that can be heard within our contemporary arts communities.

Work in progress, Refuge 2022, braided jute and bamboo

Artists: Alan Schacher, Alison Clouston & Boyd, Anne Graham, Beata Geyer, Ben Denham, Cheree Edwards, Dale Collier, Ebony Secombe, Emma Campbell, Fiona Davies, Gabrielle Bates, Halinka Orszulok, Hannah Jenkins, Ivey Wawn, Jo Clancy, Joel Tonks, Julie Williams, Juundaal Strang-Yettica, Kath Fries, Katrina Brennan, Kelly Leonard, Kenneth Lambert, Leanne Pope, Leanne Thompson, Lleah Smith, Maddison Gibbs, Meagan Pelham, Modern Art Projects Blue Mountains, Oriana Panozzo, Peachey & Mosig, Penny Evans, Pia van Gelder, renee allara, Rhonda Dee, Rory Green, Sean O'Keeffe, Shammgods, Teresa Gay, The (un)Usuals, RealArtWorks, Thomas C. Chung, Tina Stefanou, Tom Buckland, Tom Isaacs, vivienne dadour, WeiZen Ho.

Curatorial team: Alex Wisser, David Ryan, Jo Albany, Nina Stromqvist.

Cementa 2022

Kandos NSW on Wiradjuri Country

19 - 22 May 2022


Presence of Mind interviews and reviews

The Arts Show Radio National - with Daniel Browning

The Art of Mindfulness

"... Forget wine and cigarettes – how does mindfulness stimulate artists? Cindy Chen and Lachlan Warner are two artists whose Buddhist practice is foundational to their creativity. Curators Kath Fries and Rachael Kiang have included them in a new exhibition exploring the hot topic of mindfulness and meditation, called Presence of Mind ..."

Presence of Mind

Presence of Mind examines the intersections of mindfulness, Buddhism and the creative processes of visual artists in Australia and Singapore. For artists in this exhibition, mindfulness is foundational to their creative processes and can take many forms, from embodied processes to playful humour, as well as technological and traditional motifs. In bringing together diasporic artists from Australia and Singapore, Presence of Mind examines intersections of Buddhist lived experience and cultural differences, highlighting the rich perspectives that spirituality can bring to art.

Artists: Cindy Yuen-zhe Chen, Jeremy Chu, Lada Dedic, Kath Fries, Lindy Lee, Jason Lim, Aryadharma Aaron Matheson, Kristina Mah, Alecia Neo, Nell, Shirley Soh, Phaptawan Suwannakudt and Lachlan Warner. 

Curators: Dr Kath Fries and Rachael Kiang 

For me, co-developing this exhibition has been an important expansion on my 2017 doctoral thesis, Touching Impermanence, which focused on mindfulness creative practices, Buddhist philosophies and how the immediacy of present time can be felt in art experiences.
Since 2018 I have been working with Rachael Kiang, the manager and curator at Gallery Lane Cove and also a Buddhist practitioner, co-developing our Presence of Mind project. The exhibition includes work by artists who have I known for years, Lindy Lee, Cindy Chen, Aryadharma Aaron Matheson, Nell and Lachlan Phillip Warner, and the project has created wonderful opportunities to get to know other like-minded artists in Sydney and Singapore.
The timing of our exhibition, now at the end of 2021, following Covid lockdowns, isolation policies and associated mental health challenges, is significant. The need for mindfulness, interconnectedness, and compassion – all central to Buddhist thought and practice – has become even more pertinent.

There's four components to our Presence of Mind project: the digital residency, the exhibition (both in the gallery and matterport online), the catalogue publication and the public programs. For more information please go to

Presence of Mind

Opening 6pm Friday 10 December RSVP

11 December 2021 - 26 February 2022

Gallery Lane Cove + Creative Studios 

164 Longueville Road Lane Cove NSW 2066 

Open: 10:00am - 4:30pm Monday to Saturday*

*Gallery Lane Cove + Creative Studios will be closed over the Christmas period from 25 December 2021 - 3 January 2022. 

** Friday 24 December and Saturday 26 February the gallery will close at 2.30pm 

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, the NSW Government through Create NSW and its annual organisation grant, and partnership support from 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. 

Embrace exhibition catalogue

I’m delighted to share the 36 page catalogue resulting from my recent solo exhibition, Embrace at Our Neon Foe in May 2021.
"… Over the past few years, the otherwise overlooked queendom of fungi has materialised in the collective popular imagination as both multifarious and bewildering. We are coming to understand that in this time of ecological crisis our futures are deeply and immutably entangled with the fate of fungal worlds as symbionts, decomposers and co-creators. In Fries’ work she draws us into noticing these complex entanglements, by asking us to slow down and pay attention to different kinds of existences and temporalities … Contemplating how multispecies entanglements can co-exist and navigate these difficult times collectively, is both urgent and transformative. Allow yourself to dissolve into this connectedness, to dissolve into the continuum. …"
- Alia Parker, extract from Embrace exhibition essay

Accompanying the generous exhibition essay by Alia Parker, and my artist statement, is a collection of photographs - by Ellen Dahl, Bee Elton and myself - documenting how the fungi sculptures grew and changed during the exhibition. This post-exhibition catalogue has been carefully designed by Sara Morawetz to give you a rich experiential sense of Embrace. Thanks also to Claire Carpenter for their help with installation, Leisa Sage for construction assistance and Kate Brown for her support at Our Neon Foe.

You can view or download the catalogue as a pdf here and from the ‘Catalogues’ page on my website

As above, so below

As above, so below investigates alchemical transformations and reactions, as a way of exploring personal mythologies, rituals, transience, and speculative ecologies. By activating organic matter and earthen, primordial materials, Sydney-based artists Stevie Fieldsend, Kath Fries, Gianna Hayes, Owen Leong, and Linda Sok, navigate our integral being and the interconnectedness of all things. 

As above, so below
6 - 21 November 2021
Opening: Friday 5 November 6-8pm RSVP 
Artist talks: Saturday 20 November 1.30pm

Artists: Stevie Fieldsend, Kath Fries, 
Gianna Hayes, 
Owen Leong, and Linda Sok 
Curators: Sarah Rose & Hayley Zena 

AIRspace Projects 10 Junction Street Marrickville. 
Open Friday - Sunday 11am - 5pm

Walkdown in Lockdown - So21

For many of us in lockdown, walking has become the highlight of the day and one of the few excuses to go outside. Going for a walk has become a privilege and our appreciation of this simple freedom has grown accordingly. Walking is an act of touching the Earth, a series of rhythmic repeated acts connecting your body to the ground. Each breath brings the world, and the present moment, into your body, and then it releases the body back into the world in a continuous cycle of exchange. To walk mindfully rather than rushing from one place to another, is to walk meditatively, opening your awareness to the metabolism that exists between yourself and your surroundings.

As part of Cementa's Spirit of '21, you are invited to join me on a collective act of meditative walking - Walkdown in Lockdown. I will guide you through an experience of mindful walking, coaching you to focus your thoughts and embodied attention. Along with a cohort of fellow travellers – each in their own world, breath, footfalls and body’s momentum – you will be moving across the ground in front of you and through the air around you. This movement is not just the mind slowing down to meet the body, but the body also moving to meet the mind. The process of being attentive to your breathing and walking allows each step to connect you to the Earth.

Please register to join me for these walking meditations, 3pm 15 Oct & 5pm 16 Oct -

You can listen to my conversation with Ira Ferris discussing Walkdown in Lockdown here -

Cementa Spirit of '21

15 - 16 October 2021

Live stream -

Cementa is hosting a two-day live streamed program that will bring us together as a community and celebrate the spirit of our creative social body. 

The Spirit of ‘21 is the ghost of what we have lost and the spirit of what remains. It is gone, still here, past away and alive, it is anxious and undaunted, it is dematerialised and undiminished. It is our sorrow and resilience, the exuberance of fear, our ability to laugh and to play, to love and to hope, to dream and create all of which is to risk ourselves, to lose because loss marks the value of what we have. It is the spirit that spans the distances and differences that separate us.  

SO'21 will bring joy, at times peace, amusement, food for thought, and hopefully a sense that we are not as alone as at times it might seem. Join Cementa across Friday 15th and Saturday 16th October, where we will host a raft of activities and events to entice, beguile, intrigue and interest you. We might not know where we are going but we know its going to be a ride!

RAW Clay LAB Open Weekend

RAW Clay LAB Open Weekend

12 - 13 June 2021

Eramboo Artist Environment 
304 Mccarrs Creek Rd, Terrey Hills NSW

RAW Clay LAB is a group project with artists Helen Earl, Christina Frank, Kath Fries, Mike Hall, Michelle Perrett, Jayanto Tan and Suzanne Davey at Eramboo. Over the past six months we've been collaborating and experimenting with unfired clay, hybrid ceramic projects and site-responsive installations. For the open weekend the public is invited to participate in making a raw clay installation, experience wild clay processing and view our gallery exhibition and oudoor site-responsive works in the bush around Eramboo. 

12 - 13 June, 10am - 4pm each day.

Instagram @_raw_clay_ 

inSIGHT Lab - Embrace review

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.”

inSIGHT Lab May 2021

Embrace - solo exhibition

Embrace - new work by Kath Fries

8 - 29 May 2021

Open every Saturday 2-5pm

Drinks with the artist Saturday 29 May

Our Neon Foe, 411 Parramatta Rd, Leichhardt NSW

Embrace brings together my new sculptures and wall works exploring material metaphors of interconnection, change and continuance. Playfully combining weathered palings and gnarled plywood with recycled textile felt, fungi, paint, beeswax and bark; these works conjure sensuous co-creative narratives of growth and decay. My practice of being attentive to tactile details involves teasing out and entwining mycelium-like felt threads, growing mushrooms and tracing tree rings in old plywood. These processes focus on the immediate connectivity of touch, which then expands further to embrace ecological interdependencies.

Fungi x Botanica - Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Fungi x Botanica

24 APRIL – 9 MAY 2021

Open 10am–4pm, Lion Gate Lodge, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Fungi x Botanica exhibition invitation

Artists: Amanda Ahmed, Beverly Allen, Deirdre Bean, Sylvia Beresford, Susannah Blaxill, Jack Buckley, Stephanie Chambers, Deb Chirnside, Janine Combes, Elizabeth Cooper, Lily Cummins, Melinda Edstein, Sharon Field, Helen Fitzgerald, Kath Fries, Jen Fullerton, Minka Gillian, Jess Hall, Anne Hayes, Beric Henderson, Lisa Hoelzl, Julie Holcombe, Tanya Hoolihan, Annie Hughes, Kerriann Indorato, Tegan Iversen, Sarah-Jane Kelsey, Sooka Kim, Rachel Klyve, Angela Lober, Fiona Mackay, Nikki Main, Natasha Mansfield, Janet Matthews, Lynda McPherson, Mary Ann Mein, Amanda Morglund, Elaine Musgrave, Maurizio Nannetti, Kate Nolan, Leonie Norton, Svetlana Panov, John Pastoriza-Piñol, Lauren Sahu-Khan, Sunnee John Scharrer, Shipra Shah, Glenn Smith, Katrina Smith, Colleen Southwell, Tina Spira, Michael Sprott, Claire Stack, Charlotte Thodey, Narelle Thomas, Loni Thompson, Ruth Thompson, Christie Torrington, Leda Turner, Bronwyn Van de Graaff, Jo Victoria, Anna Voytsekhovich, Coleen Werner and Rhiannon Wright.

Artist Credits: Rainbow Bracket by Rachel Klyve, Ageing Purple Cabbage 

by Elaine Musgrave, Gymnopilus junonius by Beverly Allen

Artist Credits: Medicinal fungi by Anna Voytsekhovich,
Stink Horn by Glenn Smith

Artist Credits: Forest Fungi by Elaine Musgrave, 
Saffron Milk Cap by Anna Voytsekhovich, Titan Arum by Leonie Norton

Eulogy for the John Fries Award

We have now reached the final year of the John Fries Award – after postponing the 2020 finalists' exhibition due to the COVID situation – this eleventh exhibition now marks the conclusion of this longstanding award in memory of my father.

John Fries Award 2020/21 
13 March - 17 April 2021

Finalists: Darcey Bella Arnold, Daniel Jenatsch, Sara Morawetz, Ryan Presley, JD Reforma, Melanie Jame Wolf and Shevaun Wright

Curator: Miriam Kelly.
UNSW Galleries: corner Oxford St & Greens Rd, Paddington
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm

The opening and winner announcement will be live streamed from 3.30pm Saturday 13 March, on the UNSW Galleries Instagram @unswgalleries

It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I approach the final John Fries Award. I’m grateful for how it brought together so many wonderful early-career artists across Australia and New Zealand, giving them the opportunity to share their diverse practices and supporting new ambitious works. There were numerous people along the way who generously contributed their time, energy and expertise to the growth of the John Fries Award. I’d especially like to express my appreciation to the Viscopy Boards and CEO’s 2009 to 2017, the John Fries Award Committee, Visual Arts team at Copyright Agency, our judging panels and the six fabulous guest curators.

Since 2010 the John Fries Award has created a cherished space to reflect on and remember my father, his generosity, encouragement and practical approaches to supporting his family, friends and colleagues to pursue their dreams. I’ve always regretted not giving a eulogy at his funeral. I was too stunned with grief at the time, but the John Fries Award has become, in a sense, my annual eulogy for my father. I’ve been personally involved with the John Fries Award every step of the way, working very closely with most of the curators and the administration team. Having such a personal stake in what has become a high-profile award, has sometimes been challenging as well as deeply rewarding; I still have a twinge of discomfort being on the selection panel judging my peers.

Although it is sad that the John Fries Award is coming to an end, I’m proud of what we have achieved over the years. The extensive list of John Fries Award finalists seems somewhat like an extended family, artists for whom being part of the John Fries Award was an early-career springboard, from which they have gone on to bigger and better things.

Each year when the winner is announced, I’ve been moved by their sincere surprise and humble responses. They were never told beforehand, we insisted on keeping it a secret until the public announcement. My mother, Vivienne Fries, generously funds the award money each year. She is always a bit nervous, but also delighted, to stand up in front of everyone and announce the winner. The audience numbers at the opening events always blew us away. I’m sure they will be there in spirit and online this year when the final John Fries Award winner is announced. Congratulations to all the finalists of the last John Fries Award. My heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has been involved in the John Fries Award journey over the years.

Dr Kath Fries
Artist and Founder of the John Fries Award

Carriageworks 'No Show' 12 Feb - 7 Mar 2021

I’m thrilled to be exhibiting some of my fungi sculptures with PARI in 'No Show' at Carriageworks.

12 February to 7 March 2021
Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm
Carriageworks: 245 Wilson Street Eveleigh NSW

Carriageworks has invited eleven artist-led initiatives from across New South Wales for No Show. Including artist-run spaces, studios, cooperatives, digital platforms and online publications, each group presents an independent program that profiles early career and under-represented artists. 

ANKLES Ella Sutherland

Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operativeRubyrose Bancroft, Chenaya Bancroft-Davis, Jamie Eastwood, Jenny Fraser and Maddison Gibbs

Firstdraft Tom Blake, Amy Claire Mills, Jazz Money, Athena Thebus and Leo Tsao


Our Neon Foe Priscilla Bourne, Kate Brown, Mark Brown, Chris Burton, Simon Lawrence and Nicola Morton  

Pari Richmond Kobla Dido (Kobla Photography), Leila El Rayes, Kath Fries, Mehmet Mevlütoğlu and Feras Shaheen

Prototype Tiyan Baker, Phoebe Chen, Hannah Brontë, Amelia Hine, Robert Nugent, Sam Smith and Jodie Whalen

Running Dog Sarinah Masukor, Naomi Riddle, June Tang, Anne-Marie Te Whiu and Chloe Watfern

Runway Journal Aisyah Aaqil Sumito, Nathan BeardElham Eshraghian-HaakanssonJD Reforma and Diego Ramirez

Studio A Mathew Calandra, Jaycee Kim and Skye Saxon

WAYOUT Artspace Gus Armstrong, Leo Cremonese, Flavia Dujour, Karen Golland, Michael Petchkovsky, Georgina Pollard, Dr Greg Pritchard, Julie Williams and Alex Wisser