Spellbound by Mr Blackman

Image from QAGOMA

The Family by Charles Blackman                                                        Image from QAGOMA

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

The best word to describe the rising emotion, the tearing of my eyes, the heightened senses, as I walked into the room, is ‘spellbound’.  I was simply spellbound, surrounded by paintings and drawings of one of my favourite Australian artists, Charles Blackman.

My weekly ‘date with myself’ was to the Queensland Art Gallery to see ‘Lure of the Sun: Charles Blackman in Queensland’. The room was appropriately intimate, sectioned off from other exhibits, thus giving the feeling of isolation from the world, allowing the viewer to explore, engage with and delve into each work unimpeded, at leisure and with a sense of timelessness.

The exhibition features paintings, drawings and other works of this noted Australian artist, some I had not studied in art class and found to be hugely satisfying.  The exhibit is beautifully curated and tells a story, some of which, I, who prided myself on art history as a student, had not known.  It’s the story of the many connections and friendships Charles Blackman and his wife Barbara made here in Queensland. It’s a story of a man and his craft and his thoughtful portrayal of human emotion and relationships. We get a glimpse of the man behind the art. The works feature landmarks I am familiar with as they exist in my city.  The shared stories of friendships and life events as well as many quotes, from family and friends and the artist himself, add to the connection with each work.

A lovely inclusion was a poem written by the artist’s son, Auguste Blackman, which beautifully tied the whole exhibition together.

Lure of the Sun

Whispering shadowed dawn arise
See the world through Alice eyes
Kettle sings to brush in hand
Descending dappled Wonderland
Beneath the faithful Queensland house
Blue Alice, rabbit and dormouse
Gilded by a Gertrude flower
Amidst the splendid perfumed hour
Gerbera Roses Daisy Lily
Earthen breezeway Indooroopilly
Expounding wild magenta dream
Away to Barjai Tamborine
Pandanus palms Maroochydore
Blackman paints our fatal shore
A tea pot tips inspiring brew
Alice grows a foot or two
‘Drink Me’ now and you can be
A golden girl kissed by the sea
Through The Looking Glass we leap
Falling down in jumbled heap
And here at last we’re joined as one
Spellbound by a Lure of Sun

I was transfixed and fulfilled by this visit that I could not bear to erode the precious moments by visiting other collections.  I walked away in solitary contemplation with the sense of reverence one feels when brought face to face with works of greatness, with a champion from one’s childhood. It was a pretty special moment. 

Have you been spellbound by something lately?