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Barbara Blackman

In their own words

Recorded 1974

Barbara Blackman
Audio: 2 minutes

It was in many ways a very unlikely marriage, for a person near-blind or going blind to marry someone whose whole world was a visual world and who was so creative in that visual world. But somehow what his creations came out of – a sort of a living or understanding of poetry – was something that always bound us and still binds us together. But at that time when I recognised Charles as potentially a very great painter and a great creator, I relinquished my strong intentions of being a writer and although I went on writing diaries and sometimes poems and more and more I became a very prolific letter-writer as I gathered more and more interesting people as friends and we became more and more separated by distance, my writing changed course, as in fact my life had changed course to become devoted to Charles’ optimal putting forward of himself as a painter.

You know, when we married I said, ‘Well if you’re going to be a painter, you’re going to paint, you’re not going to go out and get a job doing something or another,’ so he stayed home and painted. And by this time my eyesight had failed almost altogether and I was on a blind pension, so we had that as a basis to live on. And the only thing I could really do was to work as an artist’s model, as a nude model, which in fact I quite enjoyed because I was picking up a lot of information about painting. It’s quite an elegant job in its way, being a model, because one can decide one’s own poses and it’s a very private occupation. One can have one’s own thoughts and one has the satisfaction of knowing one’s doing a job well.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Barbara Blackman is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Related people

Barbara Blackman AO

Related information

Barbara Blackman
Barbara Blackman
Barbara Blackman
Barbara Blackman

Life class

Magazine article by Leonie Hellmers, 2004

Barbara Blackman reflects on her experiences as a life model.

Barbara Blackman
Barbara Blackman
Barbara Blackman
Barbara Blackman

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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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