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Brian Blanchflower Skyboats

The Artist

According to the Museum of Contemporary Art,  Brian Blanchflower was born in Brighton, Sussex, England  in 1939 and immigrated to Perth, Australia having met his Australian wife in  the UK in 1972. Brian Blanchflower has attempted to constantly define and record his relationship to the environment and the natural world in his art. His sprawling 5-panel painting Particle paradise (nuclear family) (1989), for example, measuring almost 2-metres high and more than 6.5-metres wide, completely encompasses the viewer, evoking both a physical and spiritual encounter with the universe.

Brian Blanchflower’s strong affinity with nature – a legacy of his childhood in the downlands of Sussex – is evident in his abstract paintings inspired by the natural environment. As a young artist in England in the 1960s, Blanchflower was impressed by ancient sites and megaliths – a clue perhaps to the artist’s consistent concern with our place in the cosmos. After immigrating to Western Australia in 1972, Blanchflower made frequent trips to the south coast of Western Australia and to the salt-lake region north-east of Perth, which formed the basis for many of his works throughout the 1970s and 1980s. His abstract works took from the Australian landscape not just the colours and textures of the earth and the shimmering night sky but also the parched vastness and sense of infinity associated with nocturnal visions.

Music has also been a source of inspiration for Blanchflower. The works of John Cage, Edgard Varese and Anton Webern in the 1960s, and later Gyorgy Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis and Giacinto Scelsi, as well as classical composers such as Bach and Anton Bruckner, have played an important role in his development as an artist. He has painted several homages to composers, and the British/Australian composer Roger Smalley wrote an homage to Blanchflower (‘Diptych’, 1990–1992).

Skyboats by Brian Blanchflower

The Work of Art

Skyboats is a colourful abstract print that shows  the artist's influences through the environment and music. When you look at this work of art, the viewer may see different images. The boats may reflect the arrival of Europeans; the red, the blood shed in the intervening 200 years; perhaps the red splashes reflect the fireworks and part of the harbour bridge in the celebrations. There  is no right or wrong viewpoint. but like other contributions to the portfolio, the work is meant to be a talking point. The work of art  is a contribution to the Bicentennial  portfolio, The Land and was created in 1987.  The work was created using lithographic techniques  and inks.