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Barbara Blackman
, 2008

by Gorgi Dimcevski

oil on canvas (frame: 123.5 cm x 103.1 cm, support: 122.3 cm x 102.0 cm)

Barbara Blackman (b. 1928), writer, artists' model and philanthropist, was only fifteen 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; she was declared blind by the age of 22. 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, including Arthur Boyd, Fred Williams, Joy Hester, John and Sunday Reed, Clifton Pugh, John Perceval and Leonard French. In the 1960s the Blackmans were part of the Australian push active in London. While muse to her husband, Blackman also worked as a magazine columnist, a radio-producer for Radio for the Print-Handicapped, and an interviewer for the National Library's oral history program. Blackman published her autobiography Glass after Glass in 1997, and Portrait of a Friendship, which drew on her correspondence with Judith Wright, in 2007. In between, she purchased her husband's painting The Family, showing her 'good dear beloved long friend' Judith Wright, for the National Portrait Gallery.

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Barbara Blackman 2009
Accession number: 2009.17