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.
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.