Sun-compass is an installation reflecting my research into bee navigation. Using beeswax, twigs and thread, this installation traces the path of a waggle dance - performed by worker bees to communicate the direction and distance of pollinating flowers in relation to the position of the sun. This tiny insect dance resonates with larger narratives about the complex relationships between bees and their understandings of and interconnections with the world outside their hive. From a human perspective Sun-compass considers how we are undermining our fragile relationships with bees, despite their integral connection to our very survival. Over the past twelve months I’ve been using beeswax in my installations, exploring its physical materiality as a metaphor for impermanence and our fragile relationships with nature. Currently beeswax is inexpensive and relatively easy to obtain in Australia, but elsewhere in the world it is becoming rare and costly, indicative of the increasing annual losses of domesticated western honeybee hives Europe, America and China. This alarming epidemic is termed Colony Collapse Disorder.
Globally we rely on domesticated western honeybees to pollinate one third of all food crops, so the disappearances of these bees has dire implications on the international agricultural industry and our food supply. Scientists estimate that the domesticated western honeybee species will become extinct in most parts of the world within twenty years if CCD continues at this rate. CCD is caused by neonics pesticides sprayed on crops; the residual toxin in the plant pollen and nectar weakens the bee’s immune systems, eventually killing the bee. This is compounded by a combination of factors including mites, parasites, viruses, genetics, habitat loss, environmental change-related stress, malnutrition, and migratory beekeeping.
Exhibition launch Saturday 23 November 3-5pm
Public Talk Thursday 28 November 6-8pm
Exhibition Opening Times: Wed to Saturday 12-5pm
Kath Fries has a Masters of Visual Arts from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from UNSW. She has been awarded a Japan Foundation New Artist Award 2010, ArtStart Grant 2011, NSW Artists Grant 2012 and the inaugural FCMG Grant 2013. Kath works with a site-responsive process using natural and found materials to explore impermanence, memory and the complexities of human relationships with nature. She has been an artist in residence at Hill End NSW; Bundanon Trust, Nowra NSW; Gosford Regional Gallery, NSW; Wonga Wetlands, Albury NSW; Primrose Park, Cremorne NSW; The Lock-Up Cultural Centre, Newcastle NSW and Laughing Waters, Eltham VIC.
For more info about Kath Fries artwork see www.kathfries.blogspot.com and www.kathfries.com
Kath Fries is 10/10 artist in residence at Culture at Work in 2013.
This project is supported by Culture at Work's Accelerator program: where art and science collide