With Artist Charles Blackman in Melbourne

In August 2010 Auguste Blackman invited me to come to Melbourne to make a speech for his father, Charles Blackman, on the occasion of the launching of a hotel named for him as part of a series of Art Hotels.

We were ferried from the airport to our destination in a bus bearing Blackman images to St Kilda Road where we were greeted by an enormous backlit Alice. The crowded foyer of the huge hotel was decked with Charles’s Alice paintings and soon themed celebrations were in full swing. A banqueting table seating over a hundred luncheon guests was decorated with sculpted rabbits, foliage and elements from Blackman paintings.

Through the foliage Bertie Blackman, songwriter/singer daughter of Charles made herself visible across the table, delighted to be with her father in Melbourne. Charles remained dignified and outwardly unaffected by it all, although I am sure he was pleased by the attention of so many admirers of his work and especially happy to pick up a crayon when a model was provided by the hotel for those so inclined to draw.

I felt that the naming of the fine hotel was an excellent start. There should be Mount Blackman and following that – a comet. Comment has been made of his supposed frailty of late but I know my old magician friend to be as sharp witted and as observant as ever. Long may he live and draw, this grand old man of Australian Art. Paul

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