My work over the last thirty years has been a search to discover how we dwell and move within landscape. I have lived and worked all over the continent from the mountains of Tasmania to the floodplains of Arnhem land.  I see myself as a hybrid mix of artist and scientist; one who tries to relate the minutiae of the natural world - leaf, feather and beetle wing - to the abstract dimensions of the earth's dynamic systems.  Using techniques of watercolour, collage, frottage, nature printing and other methods of direct physical or kinetic contact I am finding ways of collaborating with the actual plants, birds, trees, rocks and earth of a particular place.

I like to think that the large works on paper on which I assemble these different drawing methods represent a kind of inventory or document about the state of the earth.  I want to reveal both the energy and beauty of it, as well as show its condition of critical even terminal change.  My interest is to paint the processes and energy field of the living systems of this land - flocks of birds, or water plants in swamps, or the movement of sand dunes or the ways in which trees regenerate after fire. 

My latest project is the exhibition and book both called: Midawarr/Harvest: The Art of Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley.  The exhibition is showing at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra (23 November - 18 December).   The installation features a huge 10 metre scroll painting which includes some 40 of the hundreds of food plants which abound in North East Arnhem Land.   In the last eight years Mulkun Wirrpanda has painted around 130 barks and larrakitj about the same plants. These are now installed like a forest around the painting.  This unique series was made by her as a way to try and pass on her vast knowledge to future generations.   As she said – ‘This is the food we ate when I was young. Back then everywhere you looked there were old people. Strong and healthy – they lived with us for a long time. Nowadays people die when they are only young. There are very few people as old as I am. Children are given rubbish food to eat. It is killing us.'

 

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