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Rare and unexpected sightings of the Embroidered Merops and the Spinifex Grasswren

charcoal, watercolour and graphite on 6 joined sheets
112.0 × 242.0 cm (overall)
Accession Number
Australian Prints & Drawings
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds from the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2004
© John Wolseley/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
Gallery location
Not on display
About the work

This drawing is from a series of works made in and following the summer of 2001–2002, when Wolseley spent about six months working in the Royal National Park outside Sydney following the dramatic bushfires which had swept through the area at Christmas in 2001.

This multi-panelled work comprises six large sheets of paper that are marked with the random calligraphic drawing of burnt trees and foliage. These abstract charcoal marks are juxtaposed against delicate washes of watercolour and passages of Wolseley’s characteristic fine drawing, depicting various plant forms and the rare Regent Honeyeater.

The image of the bird in the lower left panel is an appropriation of the first ever depiction of the Regent Honeyeater or Embroidered Merops, by the colonial artist, John Lewin, published in his 1808 book, Birds of New Holland with their Natural History and in subsequent titled edition Birds of New South Wales with their Natural History of 1813.