Curious Blackman: Memorable Images and the Stories that Inspired Them

Posted by Angela Tandori on

Curious Blackman features key works from Blackman’s Schoolgirl series including Prone Schoolgirl (1953) and Schoolgirls in Laneway (1953).  Blackman’s interest in the dark underside of childhood arose after learning of the Gun Alley Murder of 1921.  The victim was Alma Tirtschke, a Hawthorn schoolgirl who was raped and strangled while in Melbourne shopping for her aunty. The girl’s naked body was discovered in Gun Alley, near the drinking establishment, the Australian Wine Saloon off Little Collins Street, on December 31, 1921. The murder caused a sensation. The Crown case was that Colin Campbell Ross the 28 year old owner of the saloon had persuaded the young girl to enter his wine bar in the Eastern Arcade, in Bourke Street. He was then alleged to have given her alcohol before raping and strangling her. In 1922 Ross was hung for this crime. More recently, in 2008, over 50 years after Blackman created the Schoolgirls series and 86 years after the crime itself, the case created legal history when, after forensic testing challenged the conclusions of the evidence at the time, the Victorian Government gave a posthumous pardon for the man wrongly executed. It is the first - and to date only - pardon for a judicially executed person in Australia.

Around when Blackman commenced the 'Schoolgirl' series, his wife Barbara's university friend, Betty Shanks was murdered.  Her death also remains unsolved.  According to some interviews, Barbara attributes the 'Schoolgirl' paintings to this tragedy. Blackman however, denies the connection.

Also present in Curious Blackman are images from Blackman’s acclaimed and beloved  Alice series.  Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Blackman’s Alice is the epitome of blazing curiosity.  She first arrived to him when Blackman read Carroll’s book to his wife, whose sight was beginning to diminish.  Paralleling Barbara’s struggle with Alice’s, Blackman went on to create works of simultaneous sadness and wonder.

This summer, Angela Tandori Fine Art is proud to launch Curious Blackman - a collection of fourteen big, fine art prints from Australian icon and eternal romantic, Charles Blackman.  Spanning his Alice and Schoolgirl series, this collection revisits Blackman’s most memorable moments and the stories steering them.

Click here to view the collection