Frottage in Fiji

Frottage; the technique or process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface to form the basis of a work of art.


So I went to Fiji. A family holiday and did some drawing. The rocks on the other side of the island were rough and interesting so decided to frottage on them.




The patterns were great with the graphite that did not vary its tone (just thickness).. I lost that graphite stick though.. so only had one day with it.. that night looked for forms in the graphite and there were hints of animals which I drew out (with a uniball ink pen).

First frottage with the graphite stick that didn't vary tonally.
Frottage drawn into with ink pen

The next day I went back out.. the graphite was wild this time. Crumbly and just moody. It was a different schtick – better for drawing but not sure for frottage. But I decided this was the way to go.. I liked the fact that the tones changed. It reminded me of an Eric Clapton interview where he spoke about how he got tonal variation depending on how hard or soft he applied the flat pick. I remember loving that interview because at the time that music blew me away – that music to my naïve ears which emerged in a tone ravaged racist apartheid South Africa.

Some things that happened in the experiment with day 2 of frottage where I noticed instead of just the rubbing the pencil on the paper to pick up the patterns.. I could just try and draw the landscape while being on that rough surface.. an experiment I want to try with my Evolver Machine.. let it “measure” directly onto the ground.. or at least not have a barrier between the paper and the land.. (detect the ancient history of the land I am measuring)..

I am not sure how successful the exercise was in the drawing.. but I love the concept of drawing the scene – that my eye sees and then while directly drawing on the scene that is under my paper.. both the scale that I feel and the scale that I see affecting the drawing; becoming the drawing.

Frottage with a temperamental graphite stick. Drawing what I see and what is underneath the paper

What sits underneath it all is this idea that I am on a land I don’t know. It’s not my land. I have no history there. What is there. In that place that enters through my drawing measurements into me.. changing me.. becoming me.. Is my hard touch.. driving the graphite into the ground through the paper.. is this me getting to know the place. Becoming the place. They welcomed me home when I went there which moved me.. and my eyes tried to move into that .. be connected to my hand just as if the land exists through my eye to my hand and back again.

Frottage with a temperamental graphite stick. Drawing what I see and what is underneath the paper
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