Christabel Blackman

Dreams and Other Feline Pursuits

July 18 - August 1 2015

Christabel Blackman's new works again invite us to enter a rhapsodic world governed by sensory delight and the eternal moment. An evocative writer, she shares the memories and dreams that have inspired these paintings.

"I recently returned to my Spanish studio which lies on the out-skirting hills of a medieval town and perched on the edge of a pine forest. There are cats on the windowsills with views of my garden tumbling with spring flowers. My son serenades with his guitar and lyrical words are pursed on people's lips. All this woven in to the fabric of my new exhibition, Dreams and Other Feline Pursuits, painted in Valencia.

As a child I was bought up amidst a poetic existence. Artists, musicians, writers, poets and philosophers were the many mentors that peopled my childhood. My mother used to say, "Life is a Poem". Poems seem to me to be so indecipherably cryptic; inevitably incomprehensible with references to an unfamiliar and illusive reality. How attractive can you get? The same can be said for music, art and literature. They relay human experience and offer us the possibility of infinite depths to what can sometimes otherwise be a mundane and repetitive existence.

My godmother was the beloved poet laureate, Judith Wright. She lived on Tamborine Mountain on a property called Calanthe, which is actually my middle name. Once, as a child, I remember wandering alone into the field that lay beyond her wooden cottage - a yellow florid tapestry of jonquils, redolent with their seductive yet pungent perfume. It was a transcendental experience for me. The absolute joy of life! To this day I cannot smell a daffodil or jonquil without being instantly transported back to that idyllic moment.

My father Charles Blackman taught me that the most important part of a painting is the image it portrays for images evoke and provoke emotions. I have included a recent portrait of him in this exhibition. Now frail and vulnerable with age, yet placid and contemplative, he sits in black and white contrast to the coloured backdrop of his painting of me entitled Christabel and the Unicorn. My work, Portrait Sitter, is a vivid childhood memory of myself sitting for my father.

The imagined utopia, the dreams we nurture of a more poetic existence are present and perceivable in our daily lives. These are the quiet moments and memories that make up my picturescapes. They ebb and flow in a myriad of variations in my paintings. The girl, the cat, the window, the garden, the flowers return over and again with a new or familiar message each time. They are evocative, archetypal symbols - a trigger-stick to happiness.

The furry solace of a purring cat on my lap as I sit languid and slightly sleepy with no immediate obligations to attend to; the vision of familiar colours transformed by the unexpected light of the high, night moon; the softness of a woman's hair falling in cascading hues and framing her image more beautifully than a Botticelli; the mesmerizing beauty of a recently cut garden bouquet that induces you to believe that nothing is more important than the here and now - all are inspiration."


Born in Melbourne, Blackman has lived in London, Paris, Florence, Valencia, Brisbane and Sydney. She studied art at Alexander Mackie College, Sydney during the late 70's and attended Drawing Classes at Lorenzo de Medici School, Florence, 1982. Blackman then went on to complete a Diploma in Restoration of Easel Paintings at the Istituto per l'Arte e il Restauro, Florence, Italy, 1984-86 and an Attestato de Qualifica Professionale de la Regione Toscana, Florence, Italy in1986. She gained a Masters Degree, University of Valencia, Spain, 2007-08. Before her 25-year long sojourn in Europe, Blackman was an illustrator for the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Quadrant and The Woman's Day from 1975-82. Blackman's paintings hang in private collections throughout Europe and Australia.


» Back to previous page