Barbara Blackman gives Melbourne Recital Centre a Charles Blackman bouquet

A bouquet for the world’s musicians

Barbara Blackman today gave a bouquet to the world’s musicians in the form of ‘Fifty Flowers’ a 1978 painting by her former husband Charles Blackman.

The painting will hang in Melbourne Recital Centre’s Green Room to be enjoyed by the artists who perform at the Centre.

Barbara Blackman’s passion for contemporary music, a love-affair which began in high school when she was introduced to the works of Shostakovich, has motivated her patronage of the art.

The painting, an exuberant floral still life counterpointed by a placid white cat, had a touching genesis: during their separation, Barbara sent Charles a bunch of fifty golden flowers for his fiftieth birthday, which Charles ‘returned’ as the painting when Barbara herself turned 50. The painting has since been loaned to Canberra University and to Government House, where it was hung in the main reception room during Dame Quentin Bryce’s residency. Flowers are a signature Blackman motif, appearing in works from many of periods. Blackman spoke of capturing “that particular kind of frailty and sensitivity which people have in relation to flowers”.

Barbara Blackman was inspired to give ‘Fifty Flowers’ to Melbourne Recital Centre by the example of the Centre’s founding patron, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, a woman who Barbara admired greatly. The painting will not be on public display but in the Green Room, where Barbara Blackman feels it will be most at home, “a bouquet for every performer at every performance, with the words of my cousin and mentor Olive Patterson: ‘encouragement is the greatest form that love can take’.”

Mary Vallentine AO, CEO of Melbourne Recital Centre, thanked Barbara Blackman at the unveiling of the painting – “It is an honour and a pleasure to be able to give ‘Fifty Flowers’ a home at a place where it will be enjoyed by over a thousand international and Australian musicians each year. This gift is a wonderful confluence of creativity, music and generosity.”

For more information and interviews, please contact:

Pia Johnson
pia.johnson@gmail.com / 0413 450 951

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