10John Wolseley could pass for a 19th-century gentleman explorer: an artist, naturalist and geographer rolled into one. But his work is also strongly contemporary.From the embers - Leaf Surge
11He is documenting what is left rather than what has been found. Wolseley himself puts it more modestly: "The old gentleman naturalists were looking forward and discovering new things, whereas I am looking back, I am deconstructing that. I'm often the last to see something, rather than the first."
12Wolseley is an artist whose distinctive work often looks like fragments from ancient maps, with exquisite botanical illustrations, musings, scientific diagrams and snippets of poetry around the mountains and along the coastline.Forty-eight days in Tnorula- Gosses BluffThe last journey of the regent honeyeater, 2004, ...
1360 Days Wind BlownWild Cries Wild Wings of Wetland and Swamp,
16Wolseley's work is a cross between art and science. His work is also strongly contemporary. His maps are not readable in the conventional sense: they whirl about through time and spaceHe is "a Renaissance man without the commitment to 'perspective'. His perspective lies in his historic application of different aspects of thought and feeling….
17Using the environment-Frottage drawings. The Memory of Fire includes large scrolls of paper covered in sooty-black, random lines. They were made by rubbing the paper over and through the skeletal, carbonised banksia, silky needle-bush and casuarina trees -
21"Most people have a very goal-orientated job, but what I tend to do is to go to a place and just sit there and daydream, really," he says. "And slowly, because you are so quiet and still, you get to learn a lot about a place. I start with a lot of exploratory drawings which end up in the paintings as sort of collages, then I build up a picture of the place."
23Wolseley had an exhibition in 2001 called Tracing the Wallace line. The exhibition investigates how the landmasses of this area have moved towards each other and dramatically collided in recent geological time along what is known as ‘the Wallace Line’. This line was named after Alfred Russel Wallace, one of the 19th century founders of biogeography, who was obsessed with why there was a dramatic division between the two different faunas and floras which seem to run in a line between Bali and Lombok in the south, threading its way north between Borneo and Sulawesi.The architecture of leaves in Java and Malaysia
25A three dimensional dotted line on the gallery floor represents the Wallace Line. The exhibition features for example comparisons of leaf forms from each side of the Wallace line and bird plumage from Java juxtaposed with specimens from West Papua. Also included are Tapirs, cloud forest mosses and a series of beautiful cabinets devoted to extinct species. These combine to make the exhibition a rich mediation about the earth and our place on it.
26Tracing the Wallace Line. The concept for the cabinets was developed whilst drawing plant specimens in a Herbarium in Java, where Wolseley speculated if there would become a time when much of what remains in the natural world will be found only in the cabinets of museumsWolseley commissioned Linda Fredheim to design and make a pair of cabinets to contain specimens "in memory of lost species", one for each side of the Wallace line. Each of the cabinets is made up of layers of specimens held in metal collecting boxes with the top of the cabinet containing a casket-like collection of specimens and drawings which can be glimpsed through the door handle/peephole.