Skip to main content

Ticketed entry is in place to safely manage your visit so please book ahead. Need to cancel or rejig? Email bookings@npg.gov.au

Menu

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.

Untitled (portrait of Barbara Blackman), 1976

Charles Blackman

charcoal on paper (frame: 84 cm x 60.7 cm, sight: 57 cm x 36 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
Purchased 2009
© Charles Blackman/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 2009.147

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Charles Blackman (age 48 in 1976)

Barbara Blackman AO (age 48 in 1976)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Big bouquet of Blackmans

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2013

Dr. Sarah Engledow explores the context surrounding Charles Blackman's portrait of Judith Wright, Jack McKinney and their daughter Meredith.

Interview with Meredith McKinney video: 2 minutes
Interview with Meredith McKinney video: 2 minutes
Interview with Meredith McKinney video: 2 minutes
Interview with Meredith McKinney video: 2 minutes

The Family

by Charles Blackman

Portrait story

Meredith McKinney, subject of Charles Blackman's 'The Family', recounts memories from her childhood and the creation of the portrait.

Barbara Blackman, c. 1953 an unknown artist
Barbara Blackman, c. 1953 an unknown artist
Barbara Blackman, c. 1953 an unknown artist
Barbara Blackman, c. 1953 an unknown artist

Life class

Magazine article by Leonie Hellmers, 2004

Barbara Blackman reflects on her experiences as a life model.

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.