Australian crime drama. When a life model is found murdered at the start of a painting class, Dr Blake is drawn into a difficult and troubling investigation.
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I suppose this is where everything changes.
You always told me I was beautiful.
BELT HITS FLOOR
You never knew I could be so smart.
Bet you never thought we'd be doing this together.
Neither did I.
Still here, Elaine?
May as well come in.
In case you've forgotten, we're looking at skin tones today.
Of course, some of you have already taken this class before,
and you know how hard it is.
Those of you who haven't, good luck.
We want white, yellow, brown and red on your palettes.
Orange and green for those of you with pretensions.
Are we ready?
We all miss Nell.
Of course you do. She was much nicer than I am.
Here you are, Agnes.
When are you getting rid of all this tat on the walls?
-What about your mother's paintings?
Where are they?
You realise the gallery is putting her work into storage?
They bought one solitary painting, then they go and hide it.
Her son should be coming to her defence.
Yes. Well, we'll see you again in a couple of days.
And we'll check that blood pressure for you.
Oh, bah to blood pressure! We loved your mother.
We're all she has left, Lucien.
I've been at him for ages to go through her old studio.
-Do you think that he will?
-Thank you, Jean.
-Excuse me, ladies.
Yes? Dr Lucien Blake.
-Did we upset him?
-Oh, I hope so.
-Of course. I'll be right there.
Jean, I'm needed at the College of the Arts.
It'll give you a chance to talk to the gallery about her paintings,
won't it, Lucien?
-Lovely to see you, Agnes.
-You don't mean that at all.
You know I do.
Her name is Virginia Mackay, life model.
Last seen about an hour ago entering the building.
They cut her throat.
-I don't know.
Davis, any sign of a murder weapon?
No. Nothing, boss. Just...lots of blood.
Charlie...what's through there?
Uh, a back stairwell that heads down to the potters' studio,
and then out to an alleyway.
I reckon whoever it was came in and out through there.
Well, let's say she was attacked here.
She was undressing. She was interrupted.
Hadn't removed her slip or her underwear.
-Was it sexual?
-I don't know.
After she was attacked, she fell here.
Do we know anything about this girl?
Yes. She was a regular model for the class.
And you are?
Geoffrey Ledwith. I teach this class.
Mr Ledwith, we're going to need a list of names of all your students.
You do know she was my girlfriend?
-HE CLEARS THROAT
-Mr Ledwith, how about we, erm, sit you down?
-She was pretty.
-She certainly was.
Were there men in the life class?
-Some men hate attractive women.
Alice, would you mind passing me a swab, please?
I've noticed something here. I'd like to get your opinion.
Now, what do you make of that?
Soil? Mud? Where from?
Already on the blade, perhaps?
-Did you see her belt buckle?
Because of this.
Is that blood?
No. Some kind of pigment.
I think you might be right.
I think you'll find that's alizarin crimson.
The colour was originally derived from the madder plant.
How do you know that?
My mother was a painter.
Doesn't quite go with the uniform.
Oh, I don't know.
It was dumped in a bin.
It's Virginia Mackay's.
They don't seem to have left any prints,
but nothing seems to have been stolen.
-Wallet, with about five quid.
Make-up, house keys.
I don't suppose you saw any... mud in that alleyway?
Not really, no. Why?
Oh, it's just a detail that doesn't seem to fit anywhere yet.
So, what should I be looking for?
How about a blade with dirt on it, a motive and a killer?
So, pretty simple, then.
-Am I allowed in yet?
-Do you have a reason to be in here, Mr Ledwith?
Yes. I need to pick up my materials.
Charlie, come here a moment.
Mr Ledwith, if I may, whose work is this?
She was obsessed with Virginia.
-Interesting painting, Miss Greenslade.
It reflects the position we found the dead girl's body in,
almost too accurately.
What's more, the girl you've painted bears a...
well, a remarkable resemblance to Miss Mackay.
You know what it is, don't you?
Beneath The Arena, by von Piloty.
Depicts a human sacrifice.
It's hanging in the gallery. Everybody knows it.
Not quite everyone.
So, why'd you make a copy of it?
Because she's got the most amazing skin. It's translucent.
All students copy the masters. That's how we learn.
-Does the girl in the original look like Virginia Mackay?
Geoffrey Ledwith said that you and Miss Mackay were friends,
and that you...flatted together.
He also said that you had a falling-out, and you resented her.
You should be talking to him. He's the one with the temper.
Or her horrible boss, Barry Johnstone.
Did you resent her, Elaine?
Did you think that she was perhaps more talented than you?
Of course she was talented.
She was just never given a chance to show it.
Got the director of the gallery here.
Something about the dead girl's keys.
Superintendent, I'm Barry Johnstone.
What's this about?
Virginia Mackay had a set of keys for the gallery.
It is really important that I know they're secure.
-They're not the ones.
-Of course I'm sure.
No money was stolen.
Did you find anything else on her? Anything at all?
-Mr Johnstone, Miss Mackay was murdered.
-I do apologise.
There is a major exhibition coming in from the National Gallery.
I've promised their works will be secure, and with one set of keys missing...
Davis, take a statement.
Shouldn't you be looking at paintings?
Lucien, mon cher.
Ah, I'm looking for a painting - Beneath The Arena, von Piloty.
Karl Theodor von Piloty.
-And I'm showing off now.
I'm not sure where it's hanging. This isn't my gallery.
-Oh, I do beg your pardon.
-Try the Blue Room.
I'm surprised to see you here.
My family is the gallery's chief benefactor.
I'm chair of the gallery board.
I'll leave you to it.
Ross, there you are.
You found it.
Macabre, but also quite beautiful, isn't it?
You know each other?
Yeah, well, not formally. Brendan Ross.
Professor Ross is from the National Gallery.
Yes, and we're a little nervous.
We have a few Davies travelling, which are close to priceless.
They'll be fine. We'd better go.
The club is very strict about reservations.
The exhibition opens on Tuesday.
-Any friend of Patrick's...
I'll keep that in mind.
Doc, the boss wants us to search the dead girl's flat.
Ah, David Davies.
-A fairly well-known artist.
Well, I'll know for next time.
Now, you took a statement from the gallery director, didn't you?
Described the dead girl as mostly competent,
tended to vagueness and clumsy.
-Well, that's what he said.
Did he say anything specifically about her work?
"Typically decorative female noodlings."
Sounds like you didn't like him.
Seems to be a lot of it.
-That'd be Geoffrey Ledwith.
-Well, that's her boyfriend.
Why would she break all their stuff?
I thought it was dirt or mud in the wound.
It may have been potter's clay. Potters use a...
Potters use a wire to cut their work from the wheel.
Very fine gauge. No striations.
Ah. Seemed a shame to throw that pot away.
Know anything about art?
I know who David Davies is.
Well, if it's not perfect, it's not worth keeping.
-You can't just simply remake it?
-Better to start again.
You have to be.
You didn't tell me you'd been around to Virginia's flat
the night before she died.
The neighbours heard the two of you having a very loud argument.
You care to tell us what happened?
That's a dangerous-looking device, isn't it, Charlie?
Mm-hm. The neighbours said there was screaming and yelling.
They said you left in a very bad mood.
But it was after that they heard pottery smashing.
We looked in her bin. Found a few of your perfect ceramics in there.
Oh, she'd made a mess of them.
Careful, Mr Ledwith.
You could really hurt someone with one of those.
As a matter of fact, you could slice right through someone's larynx
with one of those if you wanted to...
That's what I think of your opinions.
And on that basis, Mr Ledwith,
I think you should accompany us to the station.
How long were you and Virginia Mackay seeing each other?
We've been told you were together for a period of about six months.
Is this correct?
You've been described as a jealous boyfriend, sometimes violent.
Is this true?
How often did you hit her, Mr Ledwith?
-The absence of any comment...
-What do you want me to say?
The truth would be a good start, Mr Ledwith.
All right, then.
We had a fight...
..and I killed her.
You happy now?
She was beautiful.
Yes, she was.
Do you have the, uh... the potter's wire there?
And if you could hold it just on the other side of the wound there.
It appears to be the right gauge.
Seems like a pretty horrible way to go.
People right on the other side of the door,
and no-one heard a damn thing.
-You've seen it before, have you?
-No, no. I've read about it.
Right. Erm, Charlie, would you mind
flicking the switch on the main lights there for me?
There's no evidence here to connect Ledwith to the killing.
I can go back to the station. Tell the boss, if you like.
Shouldn't you have knocked off by now?
Well, I don't mind missing another night at the boarding house.
-Not exactly the most comfortable place in the world.
I'm surprised you haven't rented out a room somewhere.
Well, I didn't think I'd be staying on so long.
Well, we have spare rooms at our place,
if you are planning to stay on.
Is that your mother's old studio?
O'Brien said something about it.
No. No. Erm, we have other rooms.
Anyhow, you have a think, Charlie.
I'll get it.
Is that Charlie?
Yes. At the gallery.
I'll tell him immediately.
We have a major exhibition opening in three days.
We have three Davies' works on show.
We had to increase the insurance to cover it, and now that fool tells me
that a painting's been stolen on his shift!
Boss wanted you here. Security guard's got asthma.
What were you doing - sleeping again?
Well, yelling at him probably won't help that.
The missing painting?
It was here, and then when I did my last round, it was gone.
You have a description?
It's an oil painting by Herbert Smith.
-Worth about 100 guineas.
-Is that expensive?
No. We have far more valuable paintings.
So, why steal it?
Mr Baldwin, Dr Lucien Blake.
A little tight of chest?
Yes. Let's check that pulse of yours to begin with, shall we?
-Not much of a gap.
-It's obviously big enough.
That's why they took the frame off and passed it out the window.
-What, an accomplice, you reckon?
Careful there. Don't touch it, it's a very valuable frame.
Original 1910 gilt.
Mr Baldwin, tell me - how's your breathing?
Oh, feeling a bit better now, Doc. It's mostly when I'm under the pump.
Please. I'd rather you refrain from touching anything while you're down here.
-The boss doesn't help, does he?
Listen, I understand Virginia Mackay was his assistant.
I don't know how she ever put up with him.
Shouldn't he be doing something about this glass?
Yes. He does seem rather, erm...
He's an arse. Cares more about his paintings than he does about people.
-Jean, good evening.
Can you hear me?
Hit-and-run. He's still alive.
-How long ago?
-We don't know.
A passer-by called it in, thought he was drunk.
Ted, it's Dr Blake.
We've got an ambulance coming for you.
By the way, he must've been involved in the break-in.
Whatever happened after that, who knows?
There's still money in it.
And a set of keys, probably from the gallery.
How is he?
Well, he's in a coma. Serious swelling of the brain.
When do you reckon I'll be able to speak to him?
Listen, I think Ted staged that break-in
to cover his theft of the painting,
right down to the scattering of broken glass on the ground,
and I think he handed the painting to someone in the alleyway.
So, why run him over, and why did they leave the painting?
Do we know where Mr Johnstone was at the time of Virginia's murder?
-What, you think they're linked?
All right, we'll follow up on Johnstone, and we'll have another chat to...
We'll have another talk to Miss Greenslade. Who else?
Anyone else associated with the gallery.
Professor, er - what's his name - Brendan Ross.
-Oh, be serious.
-All right. What about the boyfriend?
This is a typed-up statement of your confession
to the murder of Virginia Mackay, as taken from notes of interviews.
Read it and sign it.
Is there a problem, Mr Ledwith?
-Is there a problem?
-I didn't kill her.
But you used to hit her, didn't you?
I'm sorry? I'm sorry. What exactly did she understand?
That I was doing great work. She wasn't a real artist.
Just ask her tutors. They'll all say the same.
Her tutors? Tell me, were they all males?
-Of course(!) Then they must've been right.
You see yourself as a real artist, though, don't you?
A few pots, a few tantrums, some bad behaviour. That's all it takes, yes?
-Takes a bit more than that.
-Yes, it does. It takes a lot more than that.
The ability to think outside convention,
the ability to step into someone else's shoes.
These things...these things!
I see none of these things in you.
I see a spoiled little brat with very little imagination.
Someone who has to work very, very hard to be even...mediocre.
And yet you sit there,
and you tell us that your girlfriend couldn't possibly be an artist,
solely because she had the misfortune...to be born female.
We're charging Ledwith - false statement.
-What, that's all?
You can take this back to the gallery.
See what you can get out of that director.
-How hard shall we go on him?
-Use your judgment.
Bring him in if you have to.
-It's a miracle it's unscathed.
-I took great care reframing it.
Yes, well, we're going to have to question the loan arrangements
between Ballarat and the National Gallery.
-No, no. We can't risk it.
The painting, Barry.
Mr Johnstone, before you do, what's that?
-The dust on the wall.
Well, the outline of whatever was hanging there previously
doesn't match the dimensions of this piece.
I've been clearing work for the exhibition.
-I thought the oil worked best here.
-When did you switch paintings?
The night before last. Why?
I think your security guard and Mr Baldwin
may have stolen the wrong painting,
which is why it was left in the alleyway.
The painting that was here, Mr Johnstone, where is it now?
It's in the storeroom, but nobody would want to steal that.
It's by an obscure local artist, Genevieve Ettienne.
And why wouldn't anyone want to steal that?
It's merely decorative.
If she wasn't a local, she wouldn't be in the gallery at all.
-You're quite sure about that?
-Well, don't take my word for it.
Yes, well, I'm not familiar with Ettienne's work,
but minor local artist,
solid enough technique, negligible cash value -
unless the thief actually knew her,
in which case the painting might have some sentimental value.
I see. Well, I actually knew her.
She was my mother.
I think it might be best
if you came down to the station with us, Mr Johnstone.
I'll, er... I'll leave you to it.
You coming, Doc?
No. You go. There's something I want to have a look at.
Your mother's painting?
No. Someone else we've lost sight of.
Well, Virginia, I think I have to say...
I prefer your work to that of Mr Davies.
I'm starting to think you may have been just a little bit obsessed.
Perhaps you weren't the only one.
Miss Agnes Clasby, sir.
Always been a beauty, if not, er, well...
-I was going to say difficult.
-Same again, sir?
-Ah, excellent idea. Thank you, Cec.
Ah, Lucien, I owe you an apology.
We get so used to making big judgments about art.
Sometimes, we forget we're actually talking about people as well.
It's perfectly all right.
Well, no, it's not, but thank you.
Oh, I haven't seen any of my mother's works since I was about ten years old,
so I'm afraid I really wouldn't know whether it was any good or not.
No, erm, well, the art world is a tough one,
doubly so for women.
I keep trying to tell my students that.
Patrick trying to convince you to keep the exhibition in Ballarat?
-Yes, he is.
-Well, I hope he succeeds.
We could use more art here, especially by women.
Enjoy your drinks, gentlemen.
FAINTLY: Lucien. Lucien.
SCORE REACHES CRESCENDO
Did you get any sleep?
Jean, let me show you something.
Huh. Is that gold?
Gold leaf. She used it in her paintings.
It's very light. She'd say, "Watch this."
And she'd take a piece of scrap, and she'd hold it above the fire,
and it would catch in an updraught, and it would drift up...
Ah. How lovely.
..and float up until it reached the ceiling.
How long has it been since you've been in here?
A lifetime. Dad didn't want anyone in here.
In fact, I clearly remember my father locking the doors.
He was a lonely man, your father.
Well, he packed me off to boarding school five days after she died,
..perhaps being on his own wasn't such an issue for him.
Well, you know that's not true.
What made you come in here today?
She's been gone 40-odd years...
..and suddenly she's everywhere.
Agnes Clasby's talking about her,
someone tries to steal her painting from the gallery.
And look -
I found this in the flat of that girl who was murdered.
-That's Agnes Clasby.
Isn't that your mother's work?
Certainly appears to be.
What do you mean?
Well, there's only one way to find out.
Well...look at you.
-You stole it!
-Er, borrowed it.
I don't think that's going to stand up in a court of law.
Look. Look at this. Look here.
-This...this is wet paint.
Someone's painted alizarin crimson over that section there.
I think they may have been trying to hide some damage.
She had the very same pigment on her belt buckle.
You think this painting has something to do with her death?
Her boss was complaining about her clumsiness.
So, how does it work?
Her belt buckle catches on the painting, scratching it.
Barry Johnstone, her boss - very, very demanding man.
So, maybe she paints over it to avoid getting into trouble.
This is the painting that the guard meant to steal.
Let me just...
Ah. You can just see. That's where it's been patched up.
Yes, but there's something underneath that scrape.
-What is that?
-I have absolutely no idea.
Maybe that's what this is all about.
What are you asking me for?
Elaine, please. My...my mother painted this.
I'd like to hear what you think of it.
You never said your mother was an artist.
That's high praise, coming from you.
-Her maiden name.
What, she used it even after she was married?
She did, yes.
Well, you could use turps and a knife
to get the top layer of paint off,
but that'd destroy her painting.
And there's no other way?
Not that I can think of.
I wasn't aware another body had come...
-You're dissecting a painting.
-Actually, they call it a pentimento.
Is that a medical term?
Alice, have a look at the light box.
You've X-rayed a painting?
What am I looking at?
HE CLEARS THROAT
So, this painting is covering up...
Another painting altogether.
You see, this one - you'll notice a photograph of it in that book -
is covering up that painting on the opposite page.
-Hasn't anybody heard...?
David Davies, famous artist, lived in Ballarat.
So, this person painted over the work of a well-known artist?
-Why would they do that?
Why, indeed? I can tell you, however, that the culprit was my mother.
Perhaps she did it to try and annoy someone.
Are you suggesting that's a family trait?
I didn't say anything.
It's a pity we can't ask her.
Thank you for coming, Agnes.
I thought Jean would've kept a cleaner house.
Well, until this morning, Jean had never been in here.
In fact, no-one's been in here for years.
Your mother was a gorgeous girl.
Why don't you take a seat here, Agnes?
I'd like to ask you some questions, if I may?
Did Mother ever mention a painter by the name of David Davies?
All the time - not that your father approved.
He was a jealous man.
Did she ever mention anything about a specific painting,
one depicting a farmhouse?
He gave it to her.
-She was his muse.
What did my father make of that?
He demanded they cut contact, and he sold the painting...
to Michael Tyneman, Patrick's father.
And what did she do?
She lost the painting.
Well, apparently, it's fairly easy to lose a painting.
Now, you sat for her while she painted your portrait?
-You knew what she was doing?
-Of course I did!
Michael Tyneman was a philistine.
So was your father.
So she hid the painting
where neither of them would ever find it.
And good for her, I say!
Your mother was given a painting by a famous artist?
And your father sold it to old man Tyneman?
Well, technically, a coincidence, but anyhow...
So, she goes and paints this over the top.
She had her reasons.
So, how much would the original underneath be worth today?
Currently, a Davies would fetch 1,000 guineas, perhaps more.
-More than a year's salary.
Listen, I think...
I think Virginia Mackay accidentally damaged the painting while she was at work.
Hang on. Just to be clear, your mother's painting?
Yes, I'm sorry. Mother's painting.
But she saw part of this other painting underneath.
She knew enough about Davies to know she'd stumbled across something.
-And she covered it up.
-But not before she told someone.
So, the person we're looking for
knows the true value of what she discovered.
Miss Greenslade's here. Wants to talk to the doctor.
Miss Greenslade, thank you for coming in.
I didn't tell you everything about Virginia.
Please, feel free, Elaine.
We were lovers.
You shared a flat, didn't you?
We shared everything.
But you had a falling-out. What was it about?
Well, you know how pretty she was.
She always had men hanging around -
Geoffrey, the tutors, Mr Johnstone.
She was so talented. She had so much to say.
They didn't see it.
They just wanted her to say how talented they were.
When she went away to study at the National Gallery, she was so happy,
but they just told her that she was just another pretty face.
When she came back, something had changed.
She studied at the National Gallery in Melbourne?
Miss Mackay's study record.
I see the exhibition is staying in Ballarat.
Yeah. Well, you and Patrick convinced me.
I'm glad you did.
Well, you can be confident your paintings will be safe.
The police have arrested Barry Johnstone.
Apparently, there was some conflict
between Mr Johnstone and the dead girl.
-Something about damaging an artwork.
Apparently, the police have uncovered evidence of...
well, quite a bit of suspect dealing on his part.
-Doesn't have to. The police are very confident.
Oh, well, that's good news.
-Too late for that poor girl, though.
What's he doing?
Oh, that's my mother's painting. They're bringing it back.
Well, the opening is tomorrow, Lucien.
I'll see you there.
Wow. It's amazing.
Hmm. Isn't it?
And he kept it locked all this time?
Mm. He was just a boy when she died.
I'll get it.
Trouble finding the light switch, Professor Ross?
I have made an extremely important discovery.
There is a David Davies painting hidden under this Ettienne.
Didn't Virginia Mackay discover that?
-The girl you murdered in the College of the Arts,
your former student from the National Gallery,
the one you failed in her second year!
-It's your car outside, isn't it, Professor?
Do you care to explain how you got the bloodstains on the side fender,
I'm guessing it'll test positive for traces of Miss Mackay's blood.
-Thank you. I'll take that.
-Virginia Mackay's gallery keys.
Virginia Mackay dead, Ted Baldwin in a coma,
just so you could own a painting by a famous artist.
Yes, and look what your mother did to it!
She was a nobody!
That what you called all your female students?
You do realise you're not the actual owner of that?
May I? Thank you.
How is it?
This is about that painting, isn't it?
Yes. Yes, it is.
-Well, we have something of a dilemma here.
As you know, my mother's painting
was gifted to the Ballarat Art Gallery by my father.
-Now, it seems the painting has...
-Fallen into disrepute.
..fallen out of favour.
Look, they own it. They don't want it.
I do. Now, you're the chair of the gallery board.
I'd like you to gift it back.
Unfortunately, the situation is a little more complex than that.
The painting underneath your mother's painting
was sold to my father.
I actually still have the bill of sale.
When he came to collect...
And the painting disappeared...my father didn't give the money back.
Your mother died.
My mother thought it would be cruel to insist.
Oh, Patrick, I had no idea.
So, obviously, you're claiming ownership of the painting.
Is that right?
-Is that it?
-Yes, indeed. That's it.
So, what did Patrick say?
Well, he wanted to ask my advice, in regard to his children.
Lucien, it's lovely.
You're just saying that.
No. It is beautiful. Your mother must've been quite some woman.
Yes. Yes, she was.
Now, if you'll excuse me.
When a life model is found murdered at the start of a painting class, Dr Blake is drawn into a difficult and troubling investigation. He is consequently forced to confront his own family's past and his mother's history as an artist.