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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.

Barbara Blackman, 2008

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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Barbara Blackman 2009
© Gorgi Dimceski

Accession number: 2009.17

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Gorgi Dimcevski (age 56 in 2008)

Barbara Blackman AO (age 80 in 2008)

Donated by

Barbara Blackman AO (3 portraits)

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.

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.

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

Restoring histories

Magazine article by Gillian Raymond, 2004

Photographic conservation practices and the restoration of the Barbara Blackman photographic portrait.

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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.