Introduction by the curator, Kath Fries
I’m delighted to welcome you to HIDDEN Rookwood Sculptures 2023. I hope you enjoy encountering these 42 artworks, while exploring the pathways and gardens, in one of the oldest sections of Rookwood Cemetery. Located on Dharug Land, Rookwood Cemetery is the largest and most multicultural cemetery in Australia: rich in heritage, traditions, and layered narratives.
HIDDEN 2023 spans contemporary, diverse, and traditional art forms: across the Sculptures, Schools, and Stonemasons categories. All the artworks are personal in different ways: some draw on ancestral cultural practices or remember family members, reflecting on a sense of home. Others honour historical connections and community expressions of grief. Several works conjure cycles of life, looking towards the future and our current ecological relationships with trees, plants, fungal mycelium, and animals. Some artists share deep emotional, empathetic, and personal reflections through their works. In contrast, others emphasise materials and processes specific to Rookwood, like bricks, soil, and sandstone. The Stonemasons carvings particularly connect with Rookwood’s sculptural heritage, with their traditional, finely honed carvings of gothic architectural details.
There is a felt experience of connection and contemplation throughout the exhibition, which is amplified by the cemetery itself. I hope you can take your time engaging with these artworks and conversations in person, on the curator tours and self-guided audio tours. Listen to the artists, school students and stonemasons tell you directly about their works, via the audio tour. These discussions about creativity, as well as how death and grief inevitably touch each of our lives, invite us to ponder our relationships with other people and our world, opening deeper philosophical questions about how we live today.
Dr 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, encouraging site-responsive practices that engage with layered histories to open-up new perspectives, relationships, reflections 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.
Listen to the Audio Tour