Site 2 — The Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery

Street address:
502 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena

In the 1940s Merric’s son — Arthur Boyd — in partnership with John Perceval and Peter Herbst, established the Arthur Merric Boyd (AMB) Pottery at 500 Neerim Road. The pottery was named after Arthur’s grandfather. Arthur was very close to his grandfather and as a teenager, lived with him in Rosebud. It was at Rosebud and across the Mornington Peninsula, where Arthur painted coastal scenes and landscapes, such as his wonderful images of Arthurs Seat, and developed his skills as a painter under his grandfather’s watchful and artistic eye.

A pottery existed at 500 Neerim Road before the AMB Pottery. The Altamira Pottery was established in the late 1930s by Hatton Beck who was an Oakleigh potter. He had helped Merric fire his pots after Merric's pottery burnt down in 1926, and became a close family friend, marrying Lucy Boyd in 1939. He sold his pottery to Arthur and his partners in 1944 for 200 pounds and the AMB was founded.

The AMB Pottery occupied two shops, between the laneway and Heads Garage, a well-known local business and now an engineering works. Initially the AMB made functional items required by the government after the War, such as salt shakers, ramekins, dishes, cups, bowls and mugs. By the late 1940s, its potters began producing more creative works including pots, platters, vases and jugs. They often struggled to find outlets to sell their pottery, but eventually did so through shops such as the Primrose Pottery shop and Georges in the city. They also sold from their Neerim Road pottery. Major ceramic works produced at the AMB include Arthur Boyd’s Mother and Child, The Bride, Judas kissing Christ and David and Saul, John Perceval’s Delinquent Angels and Neil Douglas’s highly decorated bowls and platters with images of Australian flora and fauna.

Many artists and potters worked at the AMB, including Neil Douglas, who became a partner in 1950 after Peter Herbst left the business, David and Hermia Boyd, Charles Blackman, Albert Tucker, Tim and Betty Burstall, Jean Langley, John Howley and Tom Saunders. Carl Cooper was a neighbour of the Boyds and a frequent visitor at the AMB. Confined to a wheelchair through polio, Carl created hand-painted dishes and bowls inspired by Aboriginal art. The potters at the AMB fired Carl's pottery and returned it to him until he established a studio at his Omama Road home.

The AMB Pottery was a real curiosity for local residents. The potters looked so different to the men of the time, with their longer hair, clay covered clothes and unusual occupation. Some locals thought the potters were sick because the clay dust made them look pale. Others didn’t think the AMB was a shop at all because it looked so uncommercial.

While Arthur left the AMB Pottery after he and his wife Yvonne purchased their home at Beaumaris in 1955, Neil Douglas and John Perceval continued to operate the business. Pottery created under the name of the AMB continued to be made until 1962.

The Boyd Walk is proudly presented by Glen Eira City Council, produced by Matt Blackwood and written and narrated by Colin Smith.

For a downloadable map of all eight Boyd Walk click on the link below:

Boyd Walk Murrumbeena Map(PDF, 1009KB)

Image: Arthur Boyd (left) and John Perceval at the Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery, c.1945. Image courtesy Boyd family archive.