ArtsHub review of 'Situational', Lana Howe

"Fragile and contemplative, Situational is a record of artist Kath Fries’ four-week residence at the Bundanon property. Gifted by the Boyd family, The Bundanon Trust is a thriving arts centre, promoting the interaction between visual artists and the bushland that surrounds it. An exhibition of installation, sculpture, photography and video, Fries leads us through her process of observation and distillation of the local landscape: of thistledown, kangaroo fur, and fencing wire. Found objects contrast against the natural bushland, local wildlife, and human endeavour; Fries’ work echoes the principles of arte povera, a 1960s movement, which encouraged the use of everyday objects in art. 
Thistledown, the silky feather-like fibre of a thistle seed, captured against soft window light, looking out onto the countryside, the wooden fence post and the man-made wire. The memory of passing a kangaroo, moss crowned branches, fence paling, twine. A tree stump with its army of termites. Fries’ collection of found objects captures and releases the essence of the ephemeral, of impermanence.
Her use of thistledown draws on Fries’ prior work with dandelion seeds, leaves, hair, netting and natural fibre. In Situational, thistledown is the star of the show. It features in all of the photographs, as well as the installation piece Insinuate, and the title work, a video production. Printed on cotton rag, Drifters I and Drifters II are set on a windowsill, against the light. In Threaded Thistledown, the string of thistledown is loosely moving in the wind, or so we imagine, against a window overlooking the property in the distance. A moment of country ennui, or our own sentimentality around the idea of country stillness.
Fries’ use of contre-jour is utilised in the presentation of her Horizons I-IV sculptures: thumb-size pieces of found wood, set against a narrow frame and looking out against the milky whiteness of dimmed gallery windows and shadows of street wire fencing..."

Lana Howe
ArtsHub Editor