Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art

View More:


Scrambling, climbing, flying and moving through the Cobboboonee Forest



John Walter Wolseley

England, Australia

21 Apr 1938 -


This major watercolour comes from a transitional period in John Wolseley’s practice, in which his subjects were moving from ‘dry’ (eg bushfires, deserts) to ‘wet’ (wetlands, swamps). This transition was marked most obviously in his use of materials - charcoal giving way to watercolour - reflecting the nature of his subjects. He described the work thus: ‘… [In this work] I try to describe the experience of moving through a mature forest…… In this case I am in the Cobboboonee forest towards the South Australian border – dragging my feet through the leaf-litter, hands grasping the trunks and branches of the trees, eyes up in the tracery of the branches with the songs of the birds in the air around me. Carbon is present here in all its many forms, exhaled and released in the breath and song of the birds and an air-borne sugar glider, and in the charcoal of burnt branches. And at the same time, inhaled and contained in the miraculous processes of photo-synthesis.’ (‘John Wolslely, Carboniferous’, Sydney: Roslyn Oxley Gallery, 2010).




Media categories

Drawing , Watercolour

Materials used

watercolour, carbonised wood, graphite on sixteen sheets of paper


56.0 x 76.0 cm each sheet; 90.0 x 78.0 x 4.3 cm each frame; 246.0 x 324.0 cm frame overall

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, pencil "J Wolseley/ 2006".


Gift of the artist 2015. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

John Walter Wolseley

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Robyn McKenzie., Bird in the hand: paintings by Tony Clark & John Wolseley, 'Two in the bush',' in essay, Sydney, 2006, col illus. (detail).

John Wolseley, John Wolseley: carboniferous, 'Carboniferous', August 2010., Sydney, 2010, 'Movement 2: forest' pg. 3 (not paginated), cat. no. 1.. Room brochure has artist statement and list of works.