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touching wood 2021

Touching Wood presents a series of drawing-paintings that transform tactile surface textures into visible artefacts on paper. This drawing process tunes into bodily, sensory engagement within ecological space. These poetically abstract works are created through the direct experience of matter using 'Frottage' (rubbings), which involves an intimate exchange between the maker and the surface. 

Touching Wood is a series of drawing-paintings made with a combination of acrylic paint, graphite, wax or conte crayon on handmade paper on a cradled panel (400x300mm). The drawings were collected whilst travelling through South Island in 2020 and depict the range of tree markings present in forests, coastlines and thoroughfares across Te Wai Pounamu.

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 contemplating the marks and the trees that made them, these works seek to rekindle this numinous connection.

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