Represented in the National Gallery of Australia’s collection, 'Fire Won't Burn Stick, Stick Won't Beat Dog' is an exquisite example of Charles Blackman’s mastery over the graphic practice. It is a rare dry-point etching from Blackman's beloved Mother Goose series, printed in collaboration with printer Satish Sharma and Charles’s son Auguste Blackman at Well House Press Studio in Paddington, Sydney in 1977.
Well House Press Studio took its name from a convict-built well on the Blackman’s property. It was the setting for some of Blackman's boldest printmaking experiments, not least of which were the Mother Goose works. Auguste gives insight into creating the series, reflecting:
“We devised a way of Charles working directly onto sheets of laser cut perspex. No one has attempted this before as the artist has to have immense confidence, a very strong hand and a will of iron to etch directly onto the perspex sheet. The stylus does not want to make a curved line due to the nature of the way the Perspex is made… Plexiglass or Perspex determined the low edition of 20 only as the plates were delicate and we could only extract a certain amount of passes under the roller before the drypoint etch flattened out!“
Not only technically difficult, ‘First Won’t Burn Stick…’ is visually engrossing. An eerie meeting of the childlike and foreboding, Blackman presents floating farm animals, an axe and noose. Below, wheat crackles like flames. Blackman sings a visual nursery rhyme, alluding to, as he always does, something troubling beneath the surface. What do you see in this farmyard constellation?
Master print Satish Sharma described working with Blakman as “magicians leading each other from madness to madness” and etching as “like a man-eating tiger - once it gets hold of you it won't let go." This emboldened ferocity emanates from ‘Fire Won’t Burn…’. Rare to market this museum-quality work is a tale your whole family can treasure.
Charles BLACKMAN (1928 - )
'Fire Won't Burn Stick, Stick Won't Beat Dog...' 1977
Edition of 20
Image Size: 40 x 50 cm
Dimensions: 60 x 70 cm
Signed: Signed Charles Blackman in margin
Comes with Letter of Provenance
Signed in margin.
An impression of this edition is represented at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
Accession no.: 79.893.
Condition:Very Good: Describes a work of art’s image As New, but may show some small signs of surrounding wear. There are no tears to paper margin or disruption to paint surface. Image is in Fine condition.