bertie blackman memoir

Singer-songwriter Bertie Blackman has published her first memoir Bohemian Negligence, a unique and intimate exploration of her childhood. 

ARIA-winning musician and multidisciplinary storyteller Bertie Blackman has woven a highly original and poetic retelling of her childhood. Seen through the eyes of a child, Bertie’s Bohemian Negligence (Allen & Unwin) offers insight into what it was like growing up in a free-spirited household as the daughter of iconic Australian artist Charles Blackman.

Bertie shares a treasure trove of memories encapsulated in perfect pockets of time, from curiously watching her father’s unique style of cooking – throwing spaghetti on the ceiling as a way to divine ‘al dente’ – to playing hookey and running amok amongst the artistic community she grew up with.  

Bertie’s memoir comes with a trigger warning, and although her story is a heartbreaker in terms of the open recounting of the traumatic abuse she suffered at the hands of a family friend, it also holds a stunning vividness and an open invitation to explore her world.

On the eve of her book launch, Bertie came into the Happy Studios to chat with Radi about Bohemian Negligence, and how after the push and pull of childhood, and after all the intensity has washed over, within her, a child still remains.

With great candor and poetry, Bertie has captured a perfect bubble (several perfect bubbles) that illuminates life with a great artist and the harrowing journey of childhood. In turn, she has also opened the door for uncomfortable conversations and uses her memoir, and her status as a platform to stop the cycles of any abuse of any kind. 

Speaking of the process of delving back into childhood, Bertie shares that she has learned to use the tools of forgiveness, openness, and acceptance to reconcile with the past. Quite poignantly, Bertie wrote the book whilst she was pregnant with her son Rumi, knowing that her perspective may change if she wrote it after she became a parent, which is remarkably perceptive in itself. 

With all the wide-eyed innocence of being a child and all the complexities that it invariably holds, Bertie takes you with her, as she moves toward a new era that was defined by a road trip listening to Nick Cave and discovers the spark that would light her path toward music. 

To add additional depth, Bertie’s own drawings throughout the memoir, capture the spell-binding magic and innocence of childhood – all at once beautiful and haunting. 

bohemian negligence bertie blackman


Bertie Blackman’s memoir Bohemian Negligence (Allen & Unwin) is available now.

Interview by Radi Safi.