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Barbara Blackman

The Invisible Thread series: Barbara Blackman

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The sun is out, it’s school holidays, and I’ve slowed down a little, which is to say that I’ve neglected these posts. But I’m back today with Barbara Blackman.

I interviewed Barbara in winter, heavy with a flu I couldn’t shift. At her home, I traipsed upstairs and down with Dylan, the camera man, looking for a spot to film. The light in her house was peach-coloured and the walls were full of art. It had the feel of a gallery. For 30 years Barbara was married to painter Charles Blackman, one of Australia’s finest artists, and spotting one of his Alice and Wonderland series hanging above a side table I felt a small thrill.

Barbara Blackman and Irma GoldIn the end we settled on a couch downstairs where Barbara often sits to listen to music. Indeed in our interview she spoke about the importance of music in her life and why she has been dubbed ‘the patron saint of audiences’. Her role as a philanthropist is well known and last year she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of her support for the arts.

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Among other things, we also spoke about her 50-year friendship with poet Judith Wright and their first meeting at a life-altering lecture by Judith’s partner, Jack McKinney. ‘I was greatly moved by both these people,’ she told me. ‘Although I was 15, a schoolgirl, and Judith was 30 and a published author, we somehow clicked. We got on very well and she big-sistered me through a lot of life’s narrow passageways.’