Arts / Blackmans become fellows of Heide Museum

NPG, Barbara Blackman, 2008, by Gorgi Dimcevski, oil on canvas.

AUTHOR, music-patron, and prominent Canberran, Barbara Blackman, has been announced as a fellow of Melbourne’s Heide Museum of Modern Art, along with her former husband of nearly 30 years, artist Charles Blackman.

Neither Barbara nor Charles, who lives in Sydney, was well enough to travel south for the dinner yesterday, November 11, although Barbara told “CityNews” earlier this week, “if he goes, I’ll go”.

In her stead, David Rainey from Canberra, who also has strong connections with Heide, read an acceptance speech Barbara has written, and senior curator and head of collections at Heide, Kendrah Morgan, is expecting it to be a good one, telling “CityNews”, “She has a sharp mind and wonderful memory with incisive recollections”.

Blackman, who is best known in Canberra as the patron of the Canberra International Music Festival and Chris Latham’s “Flowers of War” project has also conducted countless interviews for the National Library of Australia’s oral history program, to which she gave Heide access and which, according to Morgan, proved an invaluable resource in research for the book she co-authored with Lesley Harding, “Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed”.

Her memories, according to Morgan, extended to the food served up and Blackman also contributed to the recipe book, “Sunday’s kitchen”, “Barbara Blackman has supported the Museum to a singular degree”, Morgan says and enjoyed a long friendship with the Reeds.

The original homestead. “Heide viewed from the trees”.1949, Estate of John Sinclair, reproduced courtesy of Jean Langley. Photograph by John Sinclair

John and Sunday were, of course, the art-loving couple who after purchasing the 15 acre rural property on which Heide stands, opened their home to artists like Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Danila Vassilieff and a wider circle of writers and creators including restaurateur Georges Mora and the Blackmans.

It was a wild time, but together they made Heide the intellectual of Melbourne artistic life. It became a public art museum in November 1981 following its purchase by the State Government on behalf of the people of Victoria and now attracts thousands of visitor a year to its garden and exhibitions.

For all details of the museum’s history and facilities, visit

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