Freya Gabie studied sculpture at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College of Art.
Her practice is site-responsive and often takes place, stories, archives, or collections as a starting point; working in conversation with different contexts, and materials. She works across media, employing unorthodox materials and incorporating historic processes to create new objects or interventions that share a language and connection to past practices; her hands echoing previous hands in the making.
She is interested in drawing out unnoticed narratives manifest within different places, objects, artifacts, songs, and stories. Using and transforming the familiar to reveal and consider the ways we confront and express our histories; how these objects may re-tell the past, portray a version of the present, or predict a future, that frames both our personal and cultural identity.
Her work attempts to occupy the space between poetry, documentary, the surreal, and the conceptual; to re-tell something in new form, that sings a new song, and creates a new material inheritance.
She regularly works collaboratively with a wide spectrum of individuals and communities both in the UK and abroad. Previous projects include working with an Opera singer to stage a live performance in central London from a coal-hole, a group of miners in the North of England, an entire community in Tower Hamlets, London; forming a continuous day-long A-Capella performance from dawn to dusk; a ‘swansong’ to a medieval garden condemned for demolition and redevelopment. In 2016 she collaborated with UK financial traders and traditional Lancashire clog dancers to create a clog dance interpreting the financial trading data of Brexit.
In 2018 she spent the winter on board a marine research and humanitarian aid ship travelling around coastal Africa, tracing original refugee routes of the 1920’s for an ongoing project, Hold the Line. This project saw her retrace, 90 years later, the route of Pavel Kiprianovitch, from Bulgaria to France on foot in summer 2019.
She has been shortlisted for Artangels ‘Everywhere’ open submission, The Mark Tanner Sculpture Award and The British Academy Bridget Riley Fellowship, The Jerwood Drawing Prize and The David Troostwyk Award. She's been awarded The Uncertain States Award, The Neo Art Prize, The Eaton Award, Gilchrist Fisher Landscape Award.
Previous international projects include; 'Duet' El Paso, USA, ‘Leonardo Da Vinci, A life in Drawing’ Bristol Museum, Palsmuseum, Sweden, Châteaux De Bosmolet, Diep-Haven Festival France, Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, Namibia and South Africa, USF Art Centre, Norway, 108 New York, Fljótstunga Iceland and Franconia Sculpture Park USA.
She spent spring this year, 2022, working alongside different communities on the US / Mexican border in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, creating a body of work for the solo exhibition 'Duet' at the BAR, El Paso, USA. ‘Duet’ explored landscape as a repository of shared connections and experience. Giving the land voice to both remember and carry the complications, contradictions and beauty of the place; the way these nuances act in harmony and the notes of discord they strike.
For the exhibition, Freya Gabie draw out threads that weave the two cities of Ciudad Juarez and El Paso together. Approaching the intricate back and forth of economic, social and medical journeys that take place between the people and objects of the border, to scrutinise how the border both generates the flow of goods, services and people and dams it, and the ways the resulting impacts are felt.
Over three months, she considered the landscape the two cities share, looking at the exploitation and exclusion of the lands natural resources to ask how this may echo the exploitation and exclusion created by an international border. In particular she contemplated the subjugation of the Rio Grande, forced to perform the role of boundary along an imposed route, separating the river from the communities arounds its banks, and them from the natural resource of its water.
The exhibition also focused on both cities’ relationship with the native flora: indigenous plants specifically adapted to the hardness of the desert and crucial to the survival of communities for centuries before the settlement of Paso Del Norte, now reframed alongside plants brought here from other places. The work seeks to negotiate how these introductions displace, change and challenge the delicate environmental and social balance of a desert region.
She is currently commissioned by University College London to undertake a site history residency, making a body of work for the new neurological research centre on Gray's Inn Road, which will be used by the DRI, ION and UCL. For this commission, entitled 'Underflow' Freya is exploring the history of health giving wells found on the site; using water as a conduit to approach and consider ideas of time, memory, transformation, renewal, and exchange.
She is currently based in central London, as artist in residence at Picton Studios, for Selfridges London.