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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Girl (portrait of Barbara Blackman), 1969

Charles Blackman

charcoal on paper (frame: 94.5 cm x 71 cm, sight: 74.5 cm x 51 cm)
Image not available (NC)

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
Purchased 2009

Accession number: 2009.146

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Charles Blackman (age 41 in 1969)

Barbara Blackman AO (age 41 in 1969)

Subject professions

Writing

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.