Words for Birds

Camel Gate 2007 Work in progress by John Wolsley

Camel Gate 2007 Work in progress by John Wolsley

I can’t describe John Wolseley’s work easily. I might say that he is an explorer or an archeologist or an artist. His work makes me get lost.  I was looking for a book to blog about from my bookshelf and pulled this one out Lines For Birds by Barry Hill and John Wolseley, Poems and Paintings. I thought I might flick through and find a beautiful work to share but that was an hour ago. I have flicked and read and my mind has wandered in the same way Wolsley’s work takes you on an exploration through mark making.

With Carla yesterday spotting birds in the lush hills and cool bush, getting caught in a downpour and steamy hot weather reminded me of Wolsley. His work unfolds like the weather and colour of a day. He involves the paper in a landscape and draws from his immersion in what surrounds him. At times he lets the bush impact and may bury a work or leave it alone for some time and return to check on it’s alone-ness. He uses maps, weather, writing and meticulous drawing as well as random marks made by the environment.

Leaf Litter Bark and Birdsong Cobboboonee Forest detail 2006 2007

Leaf Litter Bark and Birdsong Cobboboonee Forest detail 2006 2007

Detail Upside-down Flowers 1982

Detail Upside-down Flowers 1982

Poetry is just another extension of his work and it’s understandable that words would go hand in hand with his artwork. He is a truly remarkable artist and I have never enjoyed an art book as much as his Landmarks by Sasha Grishin. I remember sitting up in bed scribbling notes madly into my sketch book.  Lines for Birds is not only about Wolseley’s work but poetry on birds. I have included this excerpt from one of the poems by Barry Hill,


There were two birds. One, in pencil, dreamed on graphite leaves,

it’s belly full of perfect fit with bed and dance and  dinner.

The more I looked the more I thought it merged with fine matter

drawn with the ease with which it could be erased.


13 thoughts on “Words for Birds

  1. I love this post Sue. The drawings, the story and the poem. You might like a book by my friend Leigh Hyams called Drawing Holds me to the Earth. You can find it on Amazon

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I love this post (anything about birds attracts my attention) and will definitely look for more info on Mr. Wolsley.

  3. Wolseley uses a beautiful mix of delicate draughting [drafting?] skills and mad random energy. I don’t think he gets enough attention, thanks for reminding me of him.

  4. I like that his work is both intricate and loose at the same time; reminds me of Raymond Ching’s work. Are you familiar with him? I’m sure he has spent time in Australia.

    • Hi Peter, I checked out Raymond Ching, fascinating story and great work. It’s definitely that lovely balance and unique skills of intense observation. Thank you. Cheers Sue

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s