Markers of Remembrance, 2023

cotton, graphite, charcoal, stone, pebbles and found items



I regard the process of taking rubbings (or frottage) from the decorative elements of gravestones as a method of recording a language of mourning. These decorations and symbols speak for both the deceased and their loved ones. Rather than using paper, I have captured cross-cultural details on cloth that has been interred in soil, then overdyed with plant matter from the Rookwood site. The cloth reflects the haptic relationships and intimate associations we often have with fabric. Here, the cloth is draped, secured by, or wrapped around stones like those used for nearby graves.

Sylvia Griffin thanks Rookwood General Cemtery’s Stonemasons of for loaning pieces from their Stonemasons Yard for this work.

About the Artist


Sylvia Griffin is of Hungarian Jewish descent, and lives on Wangal Land in the inner west of Sydney, NSW.





Hello. My name is Sylvia Griffin, and my work is titled Markers of Remembrance.

Markers of Remembrance combines stones selected from Rookwood’s stonemason yard with fabric that features rubbings from gravestones from various sections of the cemetery. I have often used fabric in my practice for its resonances to domestic life, and the familiarity and comfort that we derive in textiles, often kept close to our skin.

The process I’ve used is to bury cotton fabric and leaving it to partially deteriorate. I have then overdyed this cloth with natural plant material from the Rookwood site. In treating the fabric in this way, I wanted to a convey a sense of fragility to reflect on feelings of grief and mourning. This fragility is also present in my use of frottage (a rubbing process) to capture traces of decorative elements from various gravestones.

During this process, out of respect for the deceased, I purposely avoided capturing names or any personal inscriptions. But I did capture more generic words or terms such as “Resting”, or “In Loving Memory of” and so on. I then used this fabric to wrap or drape over the stone elements, and also used the stone to anchor the fabric. Most of the working out of this piece was done in situ during the installation period and there was an element of experimentation before finding the final result.

I liked that while some decorative elements indicated a need to seek solace and connection through the use of religious iconography—like Crosses or Stars of David—o thers featured meticulously carved decoration. These decorations ranged from handmade tiles, to beautiful, carved fringed drapery over a marble tombstone. The use of hands seemed a popular element, featuring fingers - pointing either up or pointing down - or forming diamond shapes with thumbs and forefingers touching, or hands clasping. While many decorative elements were quite unique or personal in nature, others seemed to be of their time, representing the fashion of a particular era. For example, in certain parts of the cemetery, there would be clusters of graves featuring long s-shaped scrolls on the side of tombstones, while other sections had several with carved roses. There were also ceramic pieces, mainly in the form of bunches of flowers placed in the centre of graves.

My aim was to record and draw attention to the thoughts behind selecting these decorations that form part of a language of mourning and continue to speak for both the deceased and their loved ones.