Art out there - Fiona McIntosh's review of 'Scorch'

Fiona McIntosh, Art out there - blog review, 14 March 2012

"I've been doing the gallery circuit for a while now. I try to break out of the usual routes & explore new territories and outposts but, I admit, it is not regularly enough. So it is with pleasure when I learn of something new, such as Gallery 8, discovered via Sydney's Art Month. The gallery is an artist-run space in a great part of town, at the bottom of Kent St, on Argyle Place, Millers Point right next door to the Lord Nelson Hotel. The shopfront space follows a bend in the road, so it isn't until you actually round the corner and are standing in front of the window, that you have any sense of what it is.
Art Month Sydney fills a much needed gap. There are many festivals in this city, rolling across the annual calendar, celebrating most things cultural but until only 3 years ago, there was no dedicated spot for the visual arts. It is a fantastic idea for artists, gallerists, collectors and newcomers, to dedicate one month to all things visual in Sydney. There is a lot on offer throughout the year, but the focus Art Month affords has to be good. I think there are still teething issues, about managing the scale of the programme and spreading it evenly across town and the allotted few weeks, whilst meeting the needs of the key stakeholders - gallerists, artists, buyers - but it takes time for these things to come together. It possibly needs a central point and focus, something of its own, from which all other official events spin off. It will gradually firm its foundations and find a true direction. La Roma wasn't built in a day ...
It was an image on the its website that caught my eye - a sculptural installation at Gallery 8 by Kath Fries in her exhibition 'Scorch'.
The works feel modest until you realise that each small wall piece is bronze. There is nothing modest about working in bronze. It is ambitious, laborious, intensive, expensive and made to last a life time. The wall pieces are small bronzed magnolia branches, slightly more than twigs, dotted with buds. Some are intertwined with a rough string, some weighed down with a pendulum-like lump of charcoal. She speaks of things impermanent being rendered permanent. The budding branch is destroyed in the casting process but reformed in bronze, its burgeoning growth suspended in time. Fiery processes have destroyed both the branch and the wood, to recreate one as a bronze replica and the other, a charcoal remnant. The small branches sit as 'details' of the large floor installation, "Hold dear" 2011. Medium becomes the metaphor for the artist who says of her practice "the transcience of existence and fragility of life are recurring themes..."
The artist-run space is a varied phenomenon and often works as a collective set up: the artists supporting each other to exhibit, promote and sell their wares in an environment which allows for greater experimentation and exploration. Funding bodies play a major role in these spaces, supporting the set up and administration of them as well as the projects themselves. Fries' installation was supported by a grant from NAVA, the NSW Artists' Grant initiative."
Fiona McIntosh
Art out there14 March 2012