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Bertie Blackman Curates a Voice for the Subterranean Substation for Qtopia Sydney Exhibition

The name Blackman is synonymous with the Arts in Australia. The late Charles Blackman OBE is one of Australia’s most celebrated figurative artists of the 20th century. An excellent draughtsman as well as a painter, Blackman created imagery – often in series – based on personal, literary and musical themes.

His legacy lives on in his multi-talented daughter and Aria award winning musician Beatrice ‘Bertie’ Blackman. Blackman is a multidisciplinary storyteller, committed to weaving together real and imagined worlds across mediums – as a musician, a visual artist and a writer.

Bertie’s debut children’s book Mica the Star Sailor was published in 2020 and her memoir, Bohemian Negligence was published in 2022.

Blackman’s dedicated following will soon enjoy her bold and immersive work 130BPM: Soundtrack to a Revolution when it opens at Qtopia Sydney’s Substation in Taylor Square as part of the opening exhibition in February 2024.

An immersive and inclusive exhibition that celebrates the rich and diverse history of Queer music in Australia, Blackman’s work will inhabit the subterranean space, derelict for three decades. The show will be part one of an evolving installation give the breadth of Aussie Queer music.

“Given the solid partnership with Sydney City Council formed so successfully with The Bandstand, it made sense to take on this space that sits adjacent to Qtopia Sydney at 301 Forbes St Darlinghurst,” said Qtopia Sydney CEO Greg Fisher.

“We are thrilled to have an artist of the calibre of Bertie Blackman bring to life the space through her own curatorial viewpoint,” Fisher said.

In discussing the exhibition Blackman said, “The public, visible history of Queer culture is inseparable from the history of music, especially music as a vehicle for social and political protest.

“As we have increasingly claimed public space – both on the dancefloor and in every area of public life – we have celebrated many gains, whether through changes in legislation, the evolution of antidiscrimination policies and practice, or through social change and cultural expression.

“While the main building of the former Police Station houses our social and political histories, the Substation will allow us to bring alive the music of revolution.

“The content will include music video clips, lyrics, social and political context and over time, will also include television interviews, photography, radio interviews, voiceovers and quotes as the exhibition evolves.

The content will flow from the 70s to the present and will highlight the diverse types of music produced within the Australian Queer community, representing it thoughtfully, and casting the net as wide as possible to showcase its depth and diversity.

Participating in the inaugural exhibition, Judy Small AM said, “This is a unique and exciting location with which to highlight the Queer community’s contributions to the national music scene.

“We are thrilled to be able to celebrate the intersectionality within the Queer community by including music from lesbians, gay men, trans people, bisexuals, and other Queer individuals, providing an inclusive and educational experience for all visitors to learn about and appreciate the depth and breadth of queer music.

“Bertie is committed to celebrating Queer sound and the community it conjures. It is a party, brought to life in digital history told across two screens,” Small said.

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