Artist John Wolseley has spent the past 40 years immersing himself in the Australian landscape in an effort to reflect and reveal its beauty and power.

Story By Mark Muller

John Wolseley is in an ebullient mood. The culmination of four years of work and wandering is not far off: his exhibition Heartlands and Headwaters opens at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in April, where it will be on show until the end of August. Now, in late March, he moves around his studio in the Whipstick Scrub north of Bendigo, Victoria, where he and his wife, curator Jenny Long, spend at least half of the year. John’s agile mind is jumping and flowing from one subject to another. Ever-present in his musings is the Australian bush – he is a creature of it. The walls, tables, shelves and nooks of the large, light, open, purpose-built space are piled with the eclectic accoutrement of a natural-born collector. Feathers, skulls, wood, paper, leaves, books, brushes, inks, knives, paints, projectors, cabinets, diaries, rocks, wire, cards, kites, lights, pictures, paintings and sculptures are to be seen wherever the eye settles. John feels the interrelationships of all these things, and uses them in his monumental works on paper to express a deeply held belief in the sanctity of the environment and the complex interconnectedness of life on earth.
“I am fascinated by the landscape, how it moves and morphs and how we dwell in it and impact on it,” he says. John’s exploration of this fascination has seen him spend much of the past 40 years living and working in the remotest reaches of this continent – from the central deserts to the Kimberley, from the highlands of Tasmania to the flood plains of Arnhem Land. He does not merely visit these places, he immerses himself in them, at times for months on end, often alone, always with his heart and mind open in a conscious effort to lose himself in the environment and thereby have the environment play through him and into his art.

This Story is from Issue #102

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2015