Painter, printmaker and installation artist John Wolseley was born in Somerset, England. He lived and worked throughout Europe before relocating to Australia in 1976. His work explores how people dwell and move within landscape. Wolseley see's himself 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 Wolseley finds ways of collaborating with the actual plants, birds, trees, rocks and earth of a particular place.
George Baldessin was one of the first artists John Wolseley met when he arrived in Australia in 1976. Both immigrated to Australia and connected through this shared experience. They were both at 'Realities Gallery' with Marianne Baillieu in the 1970s and 80s.
George Baldessin (1939-1978) was born in San Biagio di Callalta, in the Veneto in Northern Italy and arrived in Australia ten years later. A printmaker and sculptor he built his bluestone studio at St Andrews (Nillumbik) in 1971 with his partner Tess and the three Hails brothers, Rob, Doug and Don. Made of recycled materials the studio today contains all of George’s equipment including the large press, which he modelled himself with the help of Neil Jeffrey (Enjay Presses).
George won many prizes throughout his career and is represented in many of Australia's public art collections including his famous 'Pears' sculpture in front of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. In 1975 he represented Australia in the Sao Paulo Biennale, before living and working in Paris until his return to St Andrews in 1977. In 1978 George was killed in a car accident aged 39 years. In 2001 Tess returned to St Andrews to reclaim the run-down studio and reconstitute it as The Baldessin Press & Studio - a printmaking retreat. It operates in George’s memory, so that artists may continue to create, perpetuating the generous spirit of George.
'Life world of the Longicorn beetle' is one of eight prints in the 'Baldessin & Friends commemorative folio. The folio was conceived by Tess Edwards as a fundraising initiative in celebration of the The Baldessin Press & Studio's fifteen year anniversary, and as a way to honour George Baldessin's memory. The Baldessin Press & Studio is a not-for-profit organisation created in memory of the late George Baldessin (1939-1978), whose original studio is now open to the public for creative use and as a practical legacy to living artists. The Studio is located in St Andrews, Nillumbik. The folio is a unique coming together of seven very different and acclaimed artists who are connected by their friendship to the missing eighth member, George Baldessin.
Communion and collaboration with nature are central to Wolseley's practice. He assembles different drawing methods to represent a kind of inventory or document about the state of the earth. His interest is to paint the processes and energy field of the living systems of this land. 'Life world of the Longicorn beetle' is his continued exploration of Australia's natural eco-systems. The beetle attacks the eucalypt and in the process of tunnelling into the wood of the tree leaves scribbly patterns. The work celebrates the cycle of life, and the wisdom and delicacy of these creatures.
This three dimensional work consisting of three layers of paper is a varied edition, offering just the slightest difference between each print, reflective of variation in nature. The found log used as a woodcut acknowledges the interconnectedness of nature and living beings; the log is not apart from the art and the beetle has become an active artistic collaborator.
An intimate and layered print of a tree log with line trails from the Longicorn beetle. Patches of pink, yellow and orange watercolour placed randomly. Woodcut from found log and etching on chine-colle with water colour on Gampi (top layer), Mulberry (middle layer) and Arches (bottom layer) paper.
Inscriptions & markings
In pencil (handwritten): low plate: left '14/25' (edition); centre 'Life world of the Longicorn beetle' (title); right 'John Wolseley' (signature); low paper: right emboss 'GB' (Baldessin Press & Studio monogram)