Charles Blackman (b.1928-2018) was born in Harbord on Dharawal County in Sydney, New South Wales, though he grew-up in Queensland before returning to Sydney to work as an illustrator. Blackman was a self-taught painter, dedicated reader, and excellent draughtsman, creating imagery – often in series – that reflected personal, literary, and musical themes1. His works often embodied notions of urban loneliness and alienation, depicting dark, eerie and empty landscapes that are at once provocative and psychological. In 1951 he moved to Naarm (Melbourne), joining-up with a group of artists, the Antipodeans who engaged the conflicting social and political realities of the time.
Blackman’s painted Landscape, Avonsleigh during a sixmonth stay in the Dandenongs – having grown-up in Carlton in Naarm (Melbourne), this would be Blackman’s first time in the country2. In the foreground, an old homestead and its surrounding landscape has been painted in muted blue and yellow tones. The home sits alone amidst a deserted landscape backgrounded by rolling hillsides and a stream of dark and undulating evening clouds. Blackman’s restrained use of colour conveys a haunting emptiness, drawing to the fore notions of isolation and introspection – his response to the experience of the landscape late at night3.
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, “Artist Profile: Charles Blackman,” accessed January 28, 2021, https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/artists/blackmancharles/.
- Geelong Art Gallery, “Charles Blackman,” accessed January 28, 2021, https://www.geelonggallery.org.au/scenic-victoria/key-works-2295/charles-blackman.
- Charles Nodrum Gallery, Charles Blackman: Moonlight Avonsleigh, 1955,” accessed December 15, 2020, https://www.charlesnodrumgallery.com.au/artists/charles-blackman/moonlight-avonsleigh/.