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  • Title: The Power and Movement of the Long Yam
  • Artist: John Wolseley
  • Region: Victoria
  • Art Centre: Independent artist
  • Medium: Woodblock print
  • Collection: The Midawarr – Harvest Series
  • Dimensions: 97 x 52 cm
  • Edition Size: 30
  • Price ($AUD): $ 2000

Artwork Story

This work incorporates a facsimile of a drawing made by Charles Darwin in 1880 from a series of experiments he called The Power of Movement in Plants. The object of the drawing was to plot the movement and growth of a ‘Morning Glory’ (Ipomoea caerulea) seedling. Darwin traced the movement onto vertical glass for 24 hours from early morning.


The drawing demonstrates the growth movement of the plant which bends successively to all points of the compass, so that the tip revolves in a circular spiral motion (circumnutation).


Darwin’s drawing is entitled Ipomoea caerulea: circumnutation of cotyledon, traced on vertical glass, from 6.10 am June 21st to 6.45 am 22nd, 1880


The Midawarr – Harvest Series suite of woodblocks is the outcome of collaboration between Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley. Wirrpanda is a senior female artist for the Dhudi-Djapu clan from Dhuruputjpi. Wirrpanda is a leader of her clan and has a lifetime’s knowledge of her country, which is distilled into her art.


Wolseley has lived and worked all over the continent and is known for his large scale works on paper which relate the minutiae of plant, bird and insect to the greater movements of the earth’s geological and ecological systems.


Wolseley and Wirrpanda first met in 2009 in Baniyala, east Arnhem Land. Both artists were part of a group of Yolngu and visiting artists working on the cross-cultural project and touring exhibition Djalkiri: we are standing on the their names   Blue Mud Bay organised by Nomad Art Productions in Darwin.


Since 2009 they have spent a week or two together each year in the Miwatj region in Midawarr, the harvest season. The two have hunted rare plants, painted them; and eaten the unique tropical yams and tubers. Wirrpanda has now compiled comprehensive series of barks and larrakitj about the poorly recognised food plants of northeast Arnhem Land. Her mission is to renew the knowledge of these plants for future generations. Since 2009 John Wolseley has also been making woodcuts and large works on paper about the same plants and landscape.

Printed on 25gsm mulberry paper.


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