John Wolseley’s exhibition “Heartlands and Headwaters” at the Ian Potter NGV encourages us to understand the fragility and significance of the Australian landscape.
He has travelled extensively over the years to arid and remote wilderness areas in all states. Immersing himself in the landscape and usually camping at these spots. He has a non-traditional approach as he doesn’t present the viewer with a single view of the landscape but creates a composite of images that combine details of flora and fauna, geology, biology, note taking and cartography of the area. He combines collage, markings from trees, burnt wood, and even impressions from dead birds dipped in paint, scratching back, detailed observational drawing and delicate and robust watercolour. These are presented on long panels of paper sometimes metres long, where he takes us on a journey following creeks, floodplains and swamps with flocks of birds swooping through the sky.
His ability to combine all these images is masterful, when you step back to take in the whole expanse it is like a song being played out on the surface. A few of his works didn’t quite have this lyricism, they seemed too random and unconnected but the majority were incredibly beautiful in their narration.