Important Australian + International Fine Art
29 November 2007

Charles Blackman

born 1928

122.0 x 290.0 cm (overall)

signed lower right: BLACKMAN

$250,000 - 350,000
Sold for $264,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 3 - 29 November 2007, Melbourne

Art Galleries Schubert, Queensland (label attached verso)
Private collection, Queensland


Charles Blackman, Art Galleries Schubert, Main Beach, Queensland, December 1993
Charles Blackman – Alice and Friends, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Gold Coast, November 1994
Charles Blackman, Art Galleries Schubert, Main Beach, Queensland, August 1996

Catalogue text

Alice in the Cat's Flower Garden brings together some of Charles Blackman's most popular subjects and themes. First there is Alice, and all the dreams and imaginings of childhood that were conjured up by Lewis Carroll's enchanting tales and Blackman's brilliant realisations of them in paint and print. Flowers began appearing very early in his art, first in the Alice series followed by single images of girls holding bouquets. An admirer of their ineffable beauty, Blackman extended this into gardens full of them, and inhabited by a cat - invariably white. Gardens are special places, metaphors in art and literature of paradise, perfection, protection and pleasure. The Garden of Eden had its counterpart in Western Medieval and Renaissance art and the characters in Boccaccio's Decameron sought refuge from the Black Death in the safety of a sweet smelling garden. Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights, c.1504, (Prado, Madrid) is one of the masterpieces of European art.

Looking from his studio window down into the neighbour's garden, the habitat of their cat, inspired Blackman to paint lyrical images of extraordinary beauty, rich in colour and gentle fantasy. His 1968trilogy of the garden in afternoon, evening and night was carried out on large canvases, the sizes paralleling the panorama. They included the memorable White Cat's Garden in the Afternoon, of concepts expanding and extending into the triptych, The Hour of a Thousand Flowers in the Museum of Modern Western Art in Japan, and its related composition, Dream in a Cat's Garden. Another, White Cat's Garden, was realised as a tapestry, now in the collection of the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Alice in the Cat's Flower Garden, through the extensive use of blues, is evocative of a dreamlike state, of twilights and moonlights, the latter created by bright whites against intense blues and mauves. To the left, Alice with closed eyes, lies asleep on a pillow of daisies; the cat has metamorphosed out of white daisies. In this and related pictures, Blackman paints things of which dreams are made of. On Blackman's art, Judith Wright wrote, 'His painting is not of the world of things, but of the world of our experience of them, in which they are changed from things to meanings.'1

1 Judith Wright, 'Foreword', Charles Blackman, Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane 1957