touching wood 2021
Touching Wood presents 'frottage' as an important drawing process that converts the tactile surface textures of trees into visible artefacts on paper. As the surface is conveyed, something intimate happens between the maker and the tree.
Touching Wood is a series of drawing-paintings made with a combination of acrylic paint, graphite, wax or conte crayon on handmade paper decoupaged onto cradled panels (400x300mm).
These poetically abstract works are created through the direct sensory experience of matter, and explore the interplay between embodied process and ecological concern. This practice responds to a contemporary attitude in drawing that portrays connection and empathy through embodied speculation. My drawing process employs a field research approach, tuning into bodily, sensory engagement within ecological space. Relational encounters with science and nature play a role in this knowledge production.
Across the world, 'touching wood’ is a common superstition where people knock their knuckles on a piece of wood to bring themselves good fortune or ward off bad luck. Many cultures believed woods to be sacred, and that spirits and gods resided in trees. Knocking on tree trunks roused these spirits and called for their protection, showed gratitude for a stroke of good luck, or chased away demons. As touch was the sixth sense, connected to the spirit and to the soul, the sense of touch reconnected something of the Divine in the person who was doing the touching. By engaging with the imagery and thinking about the trees that made them, these works seek to rekindle this numinous connection.