Article in The Sydney Magazine: Kath Fries - Grove

"Enter a world of fairy tale and shadow play in this delightful new installation by talented emerging artist Kath Fries..." Annemarie Lopez (26/08/10), Kath Fries - Grove. September 2010, issue #89 of The Sydney Magazine (The Sydney Morning Herald), page 89.  

Grove - The Japan Foundation Gallery Sydney

9 - 30 September
Free admission: Monday to Friday 11 am - 4 pm
Japan Foundation Gallery, Level 1, Chifley Plaza
2 Chifley Square, Sydney, NSW 2000

Grove invites you to step directly out of the Sydney CBD shopping-mall food-court into a space of suspended disbelief. Playing with notions of internal and external spaces by bringing the outside within, Grove challenges perceptions and invites contemplation. This work reflects on the passage of time and sadness of loss, taking inspiration from the 10th Century fairytale, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, the oldest surviving Japanese work of fiction. “… a folktale many Japanese are familiar with since childhood. In Grove, Fries has transformed the gallery into a whimsical forest that brings this fairytale alive.”*

The story tells of a kind, old, childless bamboo cutter who found a tiny baby girl in a shining stalk of bamboo. He and his wife raised her as their own and their lives were filled with joy as she grew into beautiful young woman. But she shunned her suitors and gradually became melancholic. Eventually the sight of the full moon overwhelmed her with sadness and she confessed that she was not of this world and would soon be compelled to return to her real home on the moon. She was very upset about leaving her adoptive parents, but despite her reluctance the moon people coerced her into donning a celestial feathered robe. Upon touching her shoulders, the feathers instantly severed all her human emotional attachments and freed her from the sorrows of the world. Thus she was transported away, up into the heavens on a shaft of moonlight. Her adoptive parents’ grief was insurmountable and, soon after, they both died of broken hearts.

Although the expected happily-ever-after fairytale ending is glaringly absent, this narrative does feature characteristics that are common to magical fables from around the world and across time. The key to accessing this enchanted other realm is found hidden within the everyday, something as inconspicuous and easily overlooked as a stem of bamboo in a bamboo forest, as light as a feather’s touch against the skin and as subtle as pale moonlight.

Grove draws the viewer into a narrative journey through emotional currents of love and loss, inviting meandering exploration though the physical elements and thematic nuances of the installation. “… shadows are sketched on to the floor, prompting a reconsideration of reality. Light cast by segments of mirror distorts the space allowing myth to slip easily into reality. Ghost stories find a perfect place to inhabit here. Fries’ inclusion of feathers is a reference to the feathered cloak from the tale. The feathers make subtle movements and prompt an inkling that the mythical past endures.  It is the feelings that are invoked through being immersed in whispers of the ancient narrative that bring the fiction to reality.”**

Tracing a trail between severed bamboo stems and charcoal-feathered debris, the viewer is lead towards a shaft of flickering, pale, cool light. Reflecting off fallen windowpanes, the light moves slowly, following the silhouette of a leaf filament caught in a spider’s web. Ensnared by strong threads, this feather-like shape is held between heaven and earth, unable to really connect with either, like the bamboo cutter’s adopted daughter pulled by familial ties, belonging to two disparate homes.

* Tokiko Kiyota, Director Japan Foundation Sydney, (excerpt from the Grove exhibition publication)
** Cass Matthews & Venita Poblocki, Installing myth in the everyday
, (excerpt from Installing Myth in the Everyday exhibition essay, Grove exhibition publication)

Grove is the third and final installment of the 2010 Facenate! series. Facetnate! is a new visual artists project by the Japan Foundation.

fascinate: to capture the interest or hold the attention of.
facet: one of the polished plane surfaces of a cut gem.

Facetnate! is an affiliate exhibition of the 17th Biennale of Sydney. more about facetnate!

Incubate installation - The Sydney Fringe Festival

A new site-sensitive sculptural wall installation by Kath Fries, created at 'A Coffee and A Yarn' as part of The Sydney Fringe Festival.

Formed from knitting yarn and embroidery thread, Incubate, is a subtle installation that softens and encases the exhibition wall. Suspended in amongst the woolen tangles are bound cocoon-like forms, suggesting that the entire surface has become a giant spider’s nest. Exploring the domesticity of nesting urges and the duality of the home, as both protective and entrapping, Incubate is enticingly tactile - provoking visceral reactions from viewers.

Originally created as part of The Sydney Fringe Festival, Incubate will remain in-situ at 'A Coffee and a Yarn' until 2011. You can view it through the window from the street or up-close inside the store. 

A Coffee and a Yarn, 413 King Street, Newtown, Sydney, Australia. 
Open daily 8am to 4pm.

The Sydney Fringe Festival 
10 - 26 September 2010

THE SYDNEY FRINGE is a two week, multidiscipline cultural event set within the theatres, galleries, clubs and public spaces of Sydney’s Inner West.  The largest alternative arts event in NSW, The Sydney Fringe is a peek underneath at the urban and the unconventional, with activity ranging from edgy, alternative theatre to major concerts and visual arts openings; from free one-off events to all night parties, and performances of all scales.  The Sydney Fringe has been founded by the Newtown Entertainment Precinct Association (NEPA), an alliance of Inner West arts and cultural venues, and it is proudly supported by the City of Sydney and Marrickville Council in association with Century Venues, Peter Lehmann Wines, Canadian Club, Grolsch, Purple Goat Design, The Sydney Morning Herald, Bytecraft and Sydney Airport, as well as the Alternative Media Group, artshub Australia,, Avantcard, Drum Media Magazine, FBi Radio, Figureight, Marameo Designs, Newtown Business Precinct Association, Spotpress, Sydney Star Observer, Sydney Transport Authority and Time Out Sydney.

The 2010 John Fries Memorial Prize @ Viscopy

The winners of the inaugural John Fries Memorial Prize were announced at the opening of the exhibition, held at Viscopy’s new contemporary art space, Blackfriars off Broadway last night.

The competition was open to emerging Australian artists of all ages and disciplines who are not represented in a public art collection.  Initially the John Fries Memorial Prize offered a first prize of $10,000 to the winning artist and a solo exhibition at Blackfriars off Broadway.
Hannah Bertram, An Ordinary Kind Of Ornament, 2010
© Hannah Bertram. Licensed by Viscopy 2010
Viscopy and the organisers of the John Fries Memorial Prize thanked the 300 artists who submitted entries. Sixteen finalists were selected and their work is now on exhibit at Blackfriars off Broadway until 30 September 2010. The calibre of the work submitted was of such a high standard that selecting just one winner too difficult so the judges decided a first and second prize should be awarded.
The winners of the John Fries Memorial Prize 2010 are:
First Prize $10,000 Hannah Bertram.
Second prize $5,000 Melanie Irwin.
Melanie Irwin, untitled (action_structure_drawing) 2010
© Melanie Irwin. Licensed by Viscopy 2010 
The John Fries Memorial Prize has been donated by the Fries family in memory of former Viscopy Director and Honorary Treasurer, John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of Viscopy. Vivienne Fries, John’s wife, announced the winners and presented the prizes. She said “John was a very supportive and generous person, always encouraging people to pursue their dreams and ambitions. I’m sure John would be very proud of this award.” Viscopy chair, Jeremy Thorpe said the prize “...acknowledges the difficulty many visual artists face in making a living through their art.”

Award presentation, left to right: Hannah Bertram, Vivienne Fries and Lewis Kaplan
The JFMP Finalists exhibition featuring artwork by Hannah Bertram, Jessica Bradford, Deidre But-husaim, Susan Frisch, Christopher Fulham, Ike Glatz, Sarah Goffman, Melanie Irwin, Chrissie Ianssen, Emily McIntosh, SannĂ© Mestrom, Jamie North, Kenzee Patterson, Gary Smith, Kurt Sorensen and Layla Vardo, continues until 30 September.
Blackfriars off Broadway, 1 Blackfriars St, Chippendale, Sydney, NSW 2008. Opening hours: Wednesday to Friday 1 – 5 pm. Phone (02) 9310 2018.

Viscopy is Australia and New Zealand’s not-for-profit copyright collecting organisation for the visual arts providing copyright licensing services on behalf of our members to a wide and varied customer base. Viscopy represents approximately 43% of Australian and New Zealand artists and their beneficiaries and 40,000 international artists and beneficiaries in Australian and New Zealand territories through reciprocal agreements with 45 visual arts rights management agencies around the world. For further information contact Viscopy on (02) 9310 2018 or