645 rubbings were made during a 2011 residency in Geraldton/Greenough, WA. Carnarvon is 500 km north of Geraldton. Driving into town, one passes along an avenue of honour, 645 trees planted in memory of the 645 sailors who died on board the HMAS Sydney II in 1942.
These rubbings are a companion piece to 645 hands. The landscape is flat with little growing above the horizon. Together, over two days, my dad and I walked up one side and back down the other. Walking from plaque to plaque—taking a graphite rubbing onto greaseproof paper from each—drew our attention to the ground beneath our feet, and to the tiny plants and animals living in this seemingly barren landscape.
16 hours, 2300 metres of greaseproof paper and 645 rubbings later, with sore legs from the repeated action of squatting and standing, we had performed a commemorative ritual of sorts. Not a celebration of war, and far from the tourist rubbings of famous people’s graves in Westminster Abbey, it was nevertheless a celebration of life—persisting amongst the plaques— and of loss. The residue, rolled back onto the cardboard tubes that housed the kitchen paper in the first place, fits inside a small box.
645 rubbings, Carnarvon
graphite, greaseproof paper
23000 x 30 cm