Brian BLANCHFLOWER, Canopy XXVI -Talisman (Solar vessel) Enlarge 1 /1


Brighton, England born 1939

  • Australia from 1972

Canopy XXVI -Talisman (Solar vessel) [Canopy XXVI - Talisman] 1991 Place made: Mary Peaks, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil, synthetic polymer paint, sand, pumice powder on jute sack cloth, two panels

Primary Insc: signed and dated reverse "Brian Blanchflower/March-April '91"
Dimensions: each 200.0 h x 101.0 w cm comp (overall) 200.0 h x 202.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased with the assistance of Annandale Galleries 1993
Accession No: NGA 93.4.A-B
Image rights: © Brian Blanchflower, 1991

The main title of this painting, Talisman, suggests a ritual object created for the purpose of concentrating beneficial energies and, in so doing, warding off harmful forces.

The subtitle, Solar vessel, refers not only to a container for something (in this case colour), but also to a means of travel in the imagination. It is a vessel of discovery. The repeated discs can be seen as sun symbols – the sun’s relentless movement across the sky, or as lenses of perception, a means of gaining insights into the life-generating forces of the universe.

In the Canopy series (begun in 1985), I have chosen to make free-hanging paintings which are simply pinned to the wall. This freeing of painting from the stretcher and the frame enables the work to float as a coloured/textured form in space. I have a strong preference for humble, coarsely-woven fabrics like hessian and jute sack-cloth: materials which have a pronounced horizontal/vertical structure. I like to mix sand or powdered pumice with the paint to give it more body and grittiness. This also enhances its light-reflecting properties. Only a layer of ‘coloured mud spread over rough cloth’ hangs between the viewer and that which I am pointing towards.

In Talisman (Solar vessel) I wanted to create an intense feeling of yellowness, a sensation that would burn into the mind and remain as a glowing after-image.

Brian Blanchflower 2002

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002