10 September – 9 October
Curator's Introduction by Dr. Kath Fries
HIDDEN Rookwood Sculptures 2022 was held on Dharug Country and it was a great pleasure working with our artists, judges, partners and the team at Rookwood General Cemetery and OneCrown Cemeteries. This was the first HIDDEN exhibition since 2019, due to the COVID pandemic. All the artists were initially selected for HIDDEN 2021 and postponed to 2022, my sincere thanks to them for their commitment and flexibility in adjusting to the changing timelines and capabilities.
This additional time had been positive, allowing the artists more visits to the cemetery and deeper reflection on the potency of creating a site-responsive artwork in this contemplative place. All the artworks in HIDDEN were personal in different ways, several conjure individual experiences of grieving, paying tribute to a family member who has passed away. Some shared an element of their ancestral traditions; whilst others engaged with contemporary social and environmental issues. There was a common connecting thread exploring the poetics of remembering, back into history and across generations, as well as recent events like the Black Summer Bushfires and the ongoing impact of COVID. Collectively all the artworks invited us to ponder our relationships with other people and our world, opening deeper philosophical questions about how we live today.
The diversity of our artists in HIDDEN was reflected across cultural, religious, social, language, and immigration backgrounds. Our artists’ ancestry was also expansive, hailing from Indonesia, Korea, Norway, Iran, Eastern and Western Europe, Hong Kong, Lebanon and New Zealand; to Samoa, Russia, India, UK and the Australian First Nations of Barkindji, Wiradyuri, Dharug, and Bundjalung. The gathering of these artists and their works amidst the gardens, memoriams, history and heritage of Rookwood, significantly contributed to our wider understandings of grieving and remembrance. Although the subject of death is often avoided in our everyday lives, that’s not necessarily the case in the creative arts. Across cultures and throughout history, artists have always been emotively drawn towards trying to understand death and dying, which is an essential part of being human. During our lives we will all experience our loved ones passing away and eventually we too will also die. Taking the time to engage with these artworks and the special setting of Rookwood Cemetery, encouraged such conversations, which in turn prompted consideration of how we live, how we spend our time, what we value and celebrate.
I hope you enjoyed looking at the works in HIDDEN and listening to the artists share in their insights, via the audio tour. There was a unique generosity in the way that the artists express their creative processes, personal stories, memories, and responses to place, and I invite you to explore these ongoing conversations.
Kath Fries is a curator and artist, who lives on Gadigal Wangal Country in the Inner West of Sydney. She has been the curator of HIDDEN Rookwood Sculptures since 2019, focusing on site-responsive practices that engage with layered histories to openup new perspectives, relationships, and interconnections. Over the past 20 years Kath has been involved in artist-run galleries, community spaces, artist-in-residence programs, local government initiatives, not-for-profit organisations and education institutions, working as an artist, curator, researcher, board member, lecturer, writer, and mentor to emerging artists.