About the Boyds
The Boyd family has contributed enormously to the richness and diversity of Australia’s artistic and cultural heritage. Through their creative endeavours, including painting, sculpture, pottery, literature, architecture and music, they have helped define the Australian identity. Their art, whilst sometimes unflattering to aspects of our history and culture, has assisted us in understanding ourselves better, as individuals and as a nation. Their influence on the Australian arts is powerful, unique and ongoing.
The first generation of this remarkable family was formed in the union of Arthur Merric Boyd and Emma Minnie Boyd (nee A’Beckett). They married in 1886, and lived and painted in Victoria and Tasmania, and across Europe. Their children formed the next generation of creative Boyds. Their first born child, Gilbert (1886) died in childhood. Of their four remaining children, Merric (1888) became a potter and visual artist, Penleigh (1890) a landscape and seascape painter, Martin (1893) a writer, and Helen (1903) a painter. The Walking Tour you are about to undertake is about the most creative of these four children, Merric Boyd.
Merric Boyd was born in his paternal grandparents house Glenfern in St. Kilda. Growing up in bayside Melbourne, between completing his secondary education and coming to Murrumbeena at the age of 25, Merric experienced a wide range of vocations, including jackaroo, salesman and farmer. He also studied to be a church minister. It was whilst living in Yarra Glen that he became interested in sculpture and soon after in wheel-thrown pottery, and made the life decision to be an artist.
In 1913, Merric’s parents bought for him a block of land in Murrumbeena and built a studio residence on it for him to live and work. Merric called it Open Country. The property was purchased from a new subdivided farming estate and became 8 Wahroongaa Crescent, Murrumbeena. Merric’s parents chose Murrumbeena because Dr John Springthorpe lived in nearby Omama Road on his estate, Joyous Gard. He was an expert on neurological conditions, including epilepsy, a condition which Merric lived with. John Springthorpe, and later his son Guy, became Merric’s physicians.
Between his arrival in Murrumbeena and death at Open Country in 1959, Merric built a pottery and kiln, married artist and poet Doris Gough with whom he had five creative and artistic children —Lucy, Arthur, Guy, David and Mary— and produced some of the finest hand-made pottery made in this country or any other. He survived service in World War I and a fire in 1926 that destroyed his pottery. He supported his family through the Great Depression and despite the affliction of epilepsy, continued to be highly creative until the end of his life.
Merric Boyd and his family’s residence in Murrumbeena, forms an essential part of Glen Eira’s rich history and culture, and we are fortunate to have their story as part of ours. It is one to enjoy and to share. We invite you to do so.