Schoolgirls, Gardens and Dreams

Biographical Details:

Charles Blackman was born in Sydney in 1928. Blackman studied art from 1943 to 1946 while working as a press artist before moving to Melbourne, getting married and supporting himself as a cook. When John Reed became his patron and Blackman started exhibiting, newspaper critics began to write favourably on his work. Shortly thereafter Blackman commenced his series of works based on the Schoolgirl, with their menacing and threatening atmosphere.

'They are, in his schoolgirl pictures (c.1951-53) extraordinary creatures; both knowing and innocent, ugly and beautiful, they are guarded or neglected by Trinian and other saints as they raise their arms in excesses of sensitivity or desperation, aggression or defencelessness. As they walk, run, fall, float, through their empty world they are both accuser and accused; gleaming hope or fear, asking for pity or revenge, they are always victims.' Reference: Ray Mathew, 'Charles Blackman', Georgian House, Melbourne, 1965, pp. 3-4.

In 1956, Blackman started to paint the Alice in Wonderland series based on Lewis Carroll's fantastical tale of a girl who fell down a rabbit hole. These works follow the highly iconic, imaginative journey of Carroll's story. With forty- six work in the entire series, painted over 12 months, these pictures remain some of his most popular works that Blackman has produced to date.

In 1960, Blackman won the Helena Rubinstein Scholarship which allowed him to travel and study overseas, exhibiting at the Whitechapel and Tate galleries in London. On his return to Australia, Blackman continued to exhibit extensively.

He has been awarded many prizes and awards, culminating in a major Retrospective exhibition in 1993. Blackman's work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all state galleries, many regional galleries and numerous private and corporate collections, both nationally and internationally.

Savill Galleries has exhibited the work of Charles Blackman since inception in 1987. A solo show of his work is due for exhibition in late 2006.


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