Charles Blackman surrounded by flowers and a white rabbit

Jon Molvig, Australia 1923–70 / Charles Blackman 1957 / Oil on composition board / Gift of Miss Pamela Bell in honour of Marjorie and Brian Johnstone 1986 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Cornelia Bartzis

This portrait of Charles Blackman by Jon Molvig alludes both to the friendship between Molvig and Blackman and to Blackman’s series of ‘Alice‘ paintings in which he was immersed at the time – Blackman is depicted surrounded by flowers and accompanied by a white rabbit.

Molvig and Blackman established a short-lived art school near Burleigh Heads in 1959. Blackman agreed to travel to the school on weekends, while spending weekdays in his Brisbane studio. He once recalled being driven at a furious pace to and from the Gold Coast, perched precariously beside Molvig in a diminutive Goggomobil. The art school’s early demise was due to a grass fire that started accidentally during an outdoor painting class, and which had threatened to destroy the house and surrounding cane farms.


You can view this work and The Blue Alice 1956-57 in ‘Lure of the Sun: Charles Blackman in Queensland’ at the Queensland Art Gallery until 31 January 2016. The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated monograph featuring three essays exploring Blackman’s years in Queensland, focusing on the artist’s creative friendships with painters and poets, his connection with the young artists of the Brisbane-based Miya Studio and Barjai writers, and revealing the findings of recent conservation research into the artist’s materials and techniques.