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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.

Charles Blackman, 2008

Sahlan Hayes

type C photograph on paper (frame: 80.0 cm x 144.0 cm, image: 76.0 cm x 140.0 cm)

Charles Blackman OBE (1928-2018), artist, studied at East Sydney Technical College and worked as a press artist for the Sydney Sun before moving to Melbourne, where he came to the attention of art patron John Reed. With Reed's support, he began to produce his signature series of images, incorporating schoolgirls with flowers and Alice in Wonderland figures and motifs. He was a signatory to the Antipodean Manifesto (loosely, a defence of figuration against abstraction) in the early 1950s. After he won the Helena Rubenstein Scholarship in 1960, his work was shown in the important Whitechapel and Tate exhibitions in London in 1961-1962. Exhibiting prolifically throughout his career, over the 1970s he produced softer images of cats and gardens. In the early 1990s, a period during which he revisited themes of his early work, a Blackman retrospective show toured nationally. In 2004, previously unseen drawings from the collection of his erstwhile partner, Barbara Blackman, were exhibited at Eastgate and Holst, Melbourne. Charles Blackman is one very few Australian artists who has lived to see one of his paintings sell for more than a million dollars. Renowned especially for his drawing, he is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and all state galleries. The recently-opened Blackman Art Hotel in Melbourne is themed around his work.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2010

Accession number: 2010.163

Currently not on display

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National Photographic Portrait Prize 2009 Finalist

Artist and subject

Sahlan Hayes (age 41 in 2008)

Charles Blackman (age 80 in 2008)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Sahlan Hayes (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.

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.

Cormac and Callum, 2008 by Ingvar Kenne
Cormac and Callum, 2008 by Ingvar Kenne
Cormac and Callum, 2008 by Ingvar Kenne
Cormac and Callum, 2008 by Ingvar Kenne

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2009

Previous exhibition, 2009

In its second year at the National Portrait Gallery, and for the first time touring to other venues, the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2009 continues to present surprising perspectives on the nature of contemporary portrait photography.

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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.