Arriving in Australia in 1976, Wellesley predominantly explores how various flora and fauna evolve, grow and survive in this vast, barren and often sublime landscape. Through Walleye’s artworks, Botanist’s Camp and Bladderwort species II – Carriage flood plain, and his unique use of materials, Wellesley explores the Australian landscape with great beauty. John Wellesley, born in 1938 in England, settled in Australia in 1976, at the age of 38. Now, 34 years later, he is still living and working in Australia and is widely regarded as one of the most foremost Australian artists of his generation.
Since then, he has traveled and painted all over the continent, from the deserts of entrant Australia, to the forests of Tasmania and the tidal reaches of remote Northern Territory. In his earlier years, Wellesley worked in Paris at Atelier 17 with Stanley William, as well as in London at the Brigit Skills Print Workshop, and has continued to develop prints and artworks by employing a range of experimental art-making technologies.
As a passionate watercolors, Wellesley has incorporated his interest in nature with his working life, by developing detailed studies of the landscapes he paints, which is evident in many of Walleye’s artworks.
John Walleye’s art-making involves the most detailed of sketches long side works on a monumental scale, using the strategies of collage and assemblage. Shortly after his arrival in Australia, Wellesley noted in his journal, “How one achieves a painting, which has strength and strangeness of image, as well as an expression of the more meditative gentle areas of the subconscious, has a lot to do with how a picture is made (there are many ways of doing this). Yeses like to go through an expression, at first, of my tentative exploration and love of a partial landscape It is the specific quality of light, mood, of that particular time, that group of trees, or that strange bird or animal. These are often gentle undemonstrative things. ” After moving to Australia, Wellesley found his new home provided him with a distinctively contrasting environment from the traditional European landscape. This shifted his perspective and altering his painting practice when observing nature.
John Walleye’s works deeply explore the impact of non-indigenous people and plants on the Australian landscape and nature, whilst also addressing a range of echo-logical issues within our environment including the development of flora and fauna is our ever-changing landscape. To explore this issue further, nice arriving in Australia Wellesley has made several journeys throughout Australia include extensive exploration of central Australia, venturing into the country’s north-west as well as spending eight months in the Simpson Desert charting sand dunes. Where I differ is that I feel that at this period of the 20th century we are in a drastic condition, we have divorced ourselves from the natural world. We’ve divorced ourselves actually from the cosmos in which we live, and we’re in the process of demolishing the whole thing”, said Wellesley. John Walleye’s concern for the way civilization has taken over the natural Netscape of Australia is ever present in his works, and his landscape paintings act as a metaphor to explore this issue.
Watercolors is an ever-present feature in this artwork. “This painting, because it is in watercolors, is a wonderful way of giving a sense of how water works, and the painting is being painted by me in conjunction with the water, to reflect the environment as a key part of my art making process”. Wellesley has used pencil as another system in this painting to describe the minute details in the leaves and the stems which may otherwise go unnoticed.
Wellesley says, mime pencil is the way of refining certain areas of the plant, whereas the watercolors is a way of describing the energy flows in the plant”. Painted in 1997, John Walleye’s artwork Botanist’s camp is a clear example of how his concern for the Australian environment is used as a metaphor in his landscape paintings. This print on lithograph paper depicts a new, camp-like settlement arriving onto Australian soil, bringing with it non-native flora and fauna, which are being forced to survive and live amongst native-Australian species.
Walleye’s manipulation of the structural qualities of this work help o address various echo-logical issues in relation to the Australian environment. Botanist’s Camp depicts an Australian landscape overpowered by settlers who have introduced their new customs and flora and fauna into the echo-system, impacting the native environment. Walleye’s dynamic curry palette including ochre, brick red and gum-tree green heighten the Australian landscape’s harsh, dry and vast echo-system, whilst adding contrast to the simple black and white prints also included in this artwork.
Wellesley has purposely portrayed the introduced species in black and white to illustrate how foreign and unknown hose flora and fauna were to the environment when they were introduced. The composition of this work is dominated by the landscape, accurately characterizing the Australian terrain and vast and never-ending. Wellesley has purposely overshadowed the majority of this work with the sub level of the land to portray how the environment has been forced to collapse, and in turn suffer due to the inhabitants of early Australian settlers and foreign wildlife.
John Wellesley has used lithographic paper as the dominant material in Botanist’s Camp to reflect the environment surrounding the area featured in this artwork. The way the ink reacts reacts to the stone or the plate has a very lovely surface quality and sits on the surface, then spills out. This texture is very good for painting things like plants and leaves and flowers, and things like the swags of the tent. I often choose a medium which will suit the subject of my painting”, Wellesley says of his choice of texture and use of materials.
Wellesley landscape artwork Botanist’s Camp uses it’s subject matter and manipulation of structural qualities to help convey his concern and interest for the echo-systems which round us and to raise awareness for the suffering flora and fauna that would commonly go unnoticed amongst our landscape. Wellesley extends this metaphor in his landscape works by incorporating various mediums to explore the way the landscape and the echo-system work as one.
Walleye’s work Bladderwort Carriage II incorporates the use of water color, fine detailed paintings and sketches to investigate the physiology and energy behind each and every component in our surroundings. Walleye’s says of his work, ‘This work displays how the landscape can be thought of as fields f energy, rendered by passages of life, in which plant forms move or dance with rhythmic life. ” The Bladderwort plant that features as the main subject in this work is a rare and unusual plant found in northern Darwin. -rough this artwork, was trying to say that Darwin is about to build some huge and horrible big suburb and we need to save these unique and sublime plants, this is my way of making a cry to save the beautiful planet we live in. ” Wellesley painted this artwork on such a small scale to bring to life these intimate and minute-detailed ketches, and to convey to an audience that the small things in our lives must begin to be valued by our population. The rich, vibrant colors of aqua, yellow and orange contrast greatly to the light sketching and soft yet exuberant colors seen in the detailed paintings in this work.
Wellesley included these conflicting colors in his work to reflect the natural, strong and passionate natural roots of the environment with the soft and light individual autonomy of our flora and fauna, using this technique as a metaphor to explore the development of echo-systems in our country. Bladderwort Carriage II, John Walleye’s 2009 ark studies the inner workings of living organisms in our environment. The composition of this work is both a symbol of rhythmic energy and an exploration into the hidden systems of our Top End.
Walleye’s works aim to reveal the inner patterns and the beauty of the natural world. Artist John Wellesley says of his works, “So the affect on the audience I hope is, “ayah, 000, isn’t that fascinating’. See as an artist I want to reveal things. People often just see the surface of things, so I am hoping that by producing these works I am revealing a part of life people that never seen before”. His works aim to reveal the truth and essence of something, the underlying pattern of the connection to the whole cosmos.
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