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Barbara Blackman, c. 1953

an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph (image: 28.8 cm x 24.1 cm)

Barbara Blackman (b. 1928) was only 15 when the ABC Weekly published one of her poems. She became a member of Brisbane's literary circle, joining the writers' group 'Barjai' which included Judith Wright and Thea Astley. In 1950 she was diagnosed with optic atrophy, and was declared blind by the age of 22. 'It seemed to me I was given a life sentence for a crime I had not committed,' she has written. Moving to Sydney to study, she met artist Charles Blackman. After they married in 1952, they moved to Melbourne, where Blackman associated with the avant-garde group centered around the Melbourne Contemporary Art Society: Arthur Boyd, Fred Williams, Joy Hester, John and Sunday Reed, Clifton Pugh, John Perceval, Len French and Mirka Mora among others. In the 'swinging sixties', the Blackmans were part of the Australian push active in London. Long-term muse to her husband (they divorced in 1978) Blackman also worked as a magazine columnist, a radio-producer for Radio for the Print-Handicapped, and interviewer for the National Library's oral history program. Blackman published her biography Glass after Glass in 1997 and Portrait of a Friendship, which drew on her correspondence with Judith Wright, in 2007.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Barbara Blackman 2004

Accession number: 2004.162

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Barbara Blackman AO (age 25 in 1953)

Subject professions


Donated by

Barbara Blackman AO (3 portraits)

Related portraits

1. Barbara Blackman, 2008. All Gorgi Dimcevski.
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