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frottage 1998-2023

burnished surface series 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 and the rub.

With this frottage technique I refer to a tradition among the miners in the Fife region of Scotland. After each shift, the men were pulled out of the "pit" covered in coal dust. When they got home, their wives or children washed them in a tin bath, but didn’t wash their spine. Instead, they used the Venus mount of their hands to buff and polish the carbon powder into their skin. Eventually it became permanent. They believed that this strengthened their backs. White Shirts, Black Jackets, Roman Catholic Sunday Best Clothes covering black paintings.

burnished surface series 4



Using gesso as paint, I make a template which hardens to become the plate. I adopt repetition and limit my materials to charcoal and oil, rubbing, polishing and burnishing the them into the surface with the Venus mount of my hand. Each piece is made in the same way, but many variations such as rhythm, pressure, speed of my movement and how I use the materials dictate the result and I challenge the printing process in a very obvious way.


Developing on from burnished surface series 1, 2 and 3, I return to the first frottage, made in Barcelona in 1997 and titled 'The Rub'. The process was to capture the same motif from one printing plate in four variations: graphite on paper, graphite on charcoal, 

charcoal on paper and charcoal on charcoal.

This frottage work is series 4, 12 rubbings from one plate and using only using graphite on paper (80gsm).

burnished surface series

1 | 2 | 3 and the rub i-iv


64 frotage frottage each of 30x30 cm. 


The original frottage series was made in Barcelona in 1997 and titled 'The Rub'. The printing plate was a piece of concrete on the street just outside my studio. As with all subsequent rubbings, I used the materials in four variations.

graphite on paper

graphite on charcoal

charcoal on paper

charcoal on charcoal

In series 2 I introduced oil and began to move the paper out of registration to add a blurred, indistinct surface confusion.

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