Thursday, September 3, 2015


In Melbourne, we stayed in the 
Blackman Arts Hotel, St. Kilda Road.
This is the view, out over Port Philip Bay.

The hotel is themed around the art of Australian artist 
Charles Blackman (b. 1928).  
His works are digitally reproduced on both the exterior and inside the hotel.  

It was fun...

Blackman is particularly known for his series of paintings inspired by 
Alice in Wonderland..  

The glass door to our bathroom..

Rabbits loomed everywhere...

Charles Blackman: 'The Blue Alice', 1956, Qld. Art Gallery.  

Gratuitous shot of a Melbourne tram.
We haven't had those in Brisbane since 1969..

Federation Square, where the Ian Potter Centre houses the Australian Collection of the NGV.

I will show you some of this collection over a few posts, but today will look at two contrasting, yet oddly similar, paintings about City life:

John Brack 'Collins St, 5p.m.'  1955.
An iconic Australian painting, Collins St., 5pm, is a view of the rush hour in post-war Melbourne.
Inspired by T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland, John Brack (1920-99) observed the crowds of workers on busy Collins Street, in this comment on the conformity of everyday life.  The figures look almost identical, faces etched with weariness as they trudge to the trains and trams which will take them home to the suburbs.
Brack's style evolved into one of simplified, stark shapes and drab colour, a bleak palette of browns and greys.
He is regarded as the quintessential Melbourne artist.

Grace Cossington Smith, 'Crowd' c. 1922, Sydney
Sydney artist Grace Cossington Smith (1892-1984), is best known and loved for her vibrant, impressionist-style interiors, but thirty years before Brack, she also tackled the subject of crowded city streets.
This is Sydney in 1922, post World War I, and the street is unidentified.  
The density of the crowd, with faces blurred and indistinct, and the dull colours, gives a sense of claustophobia in the dim afternoon light.  Times were tough after the Great War, and we can feel it in this painting.

Seen any white rabbits lately?


'Lure of the Sun: Charles Blackman in Queensland' will be on at QAG from 7 November 2015 to 31 January 2016.


  1. It sounds like a wonderful break. I haven't seen any rabbits of any colour lately but I was lucky enough to see an exhibition of turn of the century photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron at the Art Gallery of NSW last weekend which featured one of Alice Liddel, the original 'Alice'.

    1. Oh, I love Julia Margaret Cameron..will have to try to get down to Sydney and see that one. How interesting she did a portrait of the read Alice. Thanks to Blogland for keeping up up to date :)

  2. I haven't seen any rabbits but I once saw a hare run right past me in Bulimia when waiting for the bus to go to work. I was so stunned I couldn't talk. It was a number of years ago though. I love your NY skirt in the last post. How interesting. I'd love to see it on.

    1. Wow, that is unusual about the hare. We have seen one over here in ten years, which jumped up in our garden early one morning. I'll bet you were stunned! Glad you like the NY skirt, and it is having a good social life. My camera and photographer have a bit of trouble getting reasonable portrait pics - we shall try again :) Thank you for calling in.

  3. Dear Patricia - Brack's paintings do portray a strong moment in time - you mention conformity with everyone looking the same but that is how it was in the 1950s, people did not step out of their allotted boxes - most conformed.
    I am intrigued by Grace Cossington Smith's painting of 'Crowd' which draws you in amongst all of the people - for some reason I would have guessed that it had been painted by a man.
    I am now going to explore her more.

    1. Yes, that conformity of the 1950s is a good point, Rosemary, and it certainly is there is this painting. Even in the 'swinging' 60s when I started work, we wore little white gloves in the street, every day :) I hope you enjoy Cossington Smith's more colourful paintings, which convey the sunniness of Australia. This early work does look mannish, doesn't it.

  4. Thank you for showing us some Australian art and a glimpse on Melbourne.
    Very interesting for bloggers on the other side of the world.

    1. Thank you Janneke, I will show more Australian art in the next few posts.

  5. Thanks for taking us along...great pictures, and love the rabbits.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Linda Kay. The rabbits were a fun idea in a hotel.

  6. How wonderful! I really enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading what you had to share about them. How great that you even had art in your hotel room!!! Not seen any white bunnies lately, but I have seen a brown one! xx

  7. Tricia, please teach me a little geography. How far are you from home? Enjoy your visit! I'm learning from you about art, that is new to me. The period looks a little like the German art that was popular in the 20s and 30s. Very interesting!

    1. Hi Debra, I had to Google this one - Melbourne is 1118 miles from Brisbane. It was a bit over 2 hours flying time. We were only there for 3 days, just long enough to see some art, and visit my cousin. Yes, those paintings do look both German and of the period you mention. Both artists were influenced by Modernism and were aware of art movements in Europe.

  8. It's great to see Australian art. We really don't get enough of it here in the UK. Thanks for sharing. I imagine Australia to be so bright & sunny, not at all what is depicted in those two paintings.