Fred Braat | Happening

Mt Omei has a rich history as space for artists to present their practice. Our current cover artist Elisabeth Cummings exhibited there in her formative years from 1976-1990. Located in Casula the gallery was opened in the mid-70s by Alice Klaphake. Most recently Happenings have been occurring every quarter since 2015, inviting artists to present works in the space. The running of these events are all voluntary by the artists and the organisers in order to save the site from being sold by the NSW Government. The most recent Happening is occurring this Saturday 18 June, and in the lead up to his happening Fred Braat reflects upon the process of his multidisciplinary practice.

Recent works in digital and traditional mediums

I have been making virtual sculpture and am now dragging the virtual back to reality by making 3D printed parts to add to my sculptures.

It has been an interesting turn around, as I started my interest in computers because I wanted to move parts of my paintings around without having to paint them out and repaint. I got interested and bought my first z80 computer in 1982. I used a dot matrix printer to output images laboriously made by sending formula to make shapes on the screen then screen-dump them into the printer.

Then one day along came the Mac and its mouse, then the game changed immediately I didn’t have to do as much programming and it had GUI in just a matter of time, and photoshop added layers and art had a chance. I have been lucky to be so involved and an early adapter in these new tools.

Then along came 3D software slowly getting more creative less cad-like and we started to control the virtual environment … the unstoppable 3D printer leading the next phase onwards. But I wanted the physical action of painting back and the real connection to making objects again. I started back into traditional practices again … the world changed and I couldn’t keep the new from being part of my work.

Now when I paint I often take a pic and scan it into the computer for some image manipulation … this then leads back to the paintings having influenced the outcomes. The 3D printer makes elements and objects to add to the sculptures. I am making a mix of found objects and manufactured objects … the road leads ever on …

In the late 70s I produced a series sculptural expressions made of natural materials to amplify the fragility of our world and indeed our internal worlds. 

It was the early days of climate changes and warnings by scientist to slow down the system. My sculpture were gentle but apt expressions of such ideologies. The three known political prisoners the cow, the sheep and the chicken were shown at The Stairs Gallery in Wollongong. A memorial to the domesticating of animals for our profit. They later became the possession of Wollongong Gallery Collection, along with ‘the butcher shop’ – an edgy work mirroring our disregard for flora as well as fauna.

In the 1979 South Coast Young Contemporary Exhibition I showed a trilogy of fragile pieces. Only one remains and is in a private collection – Centering the Self – Facing the Mirror – Flying Lesson – were fashioned in a shamanic way in my bush studio sourced from the natural materials that surrounded my newly built studio.

Now years later and a career diversion of thirty years into performance art, in which apart from photographs there is no visible footprint. Although I enjoyed the incredible lightness of being, I nevertheless managed to create a shed full of decaying flotsam and jetsam. 

As it seems a recurring feature of my existence I am now making sculpture out of the decaying shed.
These will be like a dig into the past and create an evolutionary series of sculptures which are “the Iterations”. They will represent an evolutionary adventure and each iteration will bring some of its previous existence into the next iteration.

The iterations are a collection of sculptural works that are made to flatpack into a crate for shipping and to be assembled by the collector. There will even be opportunity for some co-creation activities as the collector make choices about the assemblage.

Fred Braat 2017.

Fred Braat | Happenings
Mt Omei, Casula
Sunday 18th, Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th June

Images courtesy the artist. 

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