The picture is a postcript to the Alice in Wonderland series, one of a group that Blackman painted for his exhibition Recent Paintings of Charles Blackman at Terry Clune Gallery, Sydney. The exhibition was opened by Elwyn Lynn on 16 July and reviewed by James Gleeson in the Sun on 16 July. In Gleeson's words, 'Most of his paintings in the Clune Galleries are fixed with a deep and moving insistence upon a single image -- the head of a girl with a bunch of flowers. What this portends is a matter of conjecture. Nothing is explained and hints are few. She does not look at the flowers but looks at them with her eyes closed, or stares fixedly into space with their image in her mind. ... Blackman's style is sparse and austere. The forms are simplified to the point of ineloquence, yet they are saturated with lyrical colours that beget a strange and melancholy mood. Their emotional range is narrow, but they speak to us with a disturbing intensity.'
When Blackman painted this portrait of Barbara (his wife) as Alice in 1958, they were living in a Queensland wonderland. They were staying with her mother in the Indooripilly house of Barbara's childhood. Her blindness which they thought they could cope with was leading to differences between them. Here, her real inner loneliness and unmatched sightless eyes contrast with the liveliness of fresh flowers from her mother's garden, a single red flower bleeding from her hand.
We are grateful to Felicity St John Moore for this catalogue entry.