John Wilkins interest in strange pattern textures in line and form began when he experimented with graphic materials at his fatherís darkroom. He was greatly influenced in the darkroom techniques of solarisation, bas relief, reticulation, the Kodak line method and the use of high contrast films such as Kodalith. He gained a lot of information from an Encyclopaedia of Photography that had a number of articles about the aesthetics of photography.
Within a short time of experimenting he discovered there were freshness and an individuality that could be achieved by going beyond the conventional photograph. The use of original drawings, emulsions and photograms were often a starting point towards creating more complex abstract photographs.
John Wilkins first solo exhibition was held at the Kodak Gallery in Collins Street Melbourne in 1972 showing about 20 abstract images. This gallery was the only photographic gallery in Melbourne at that particular time. The photographic committee of the Victorian National Gallery visited this exhibition and they decided some should be purchased for the Galleryís photographic collection.
As a result of this purchase along with five other photographers works the first contemporary exhibition of Australian photography was shown at the National Gallery titled Frontiers. This exhibition later travelled on a tour to Asia.
John Wilkins had three of his abstract work featured in the National Gallery of Victoria photographic exhibition titled Light Years/Photography and Space in2009. The exhibition celebrated the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the first Moon walk.