Merric Boyd

1888–1959

Merric Boyd, his wife Doris and their family lived and worked in Murrumbeena from 1913 to 1965. After a difficult childhood which included failed attempts in both agricultural and theological colleges, Merric Boyd settled down as a ceramicist. He took drawing lessons at the National Gallery of Design under Frederick McCubbin and from 1912 to 1914 he was employed at the Australian Porcelain Insulator Works. Merric Boyd went off to war in 1917 and when he was demobbed he stayed in England where he studied at the Wedgewood Potteries as part of a rehabilitation scheme for ex-servicemen.

Merric Boyd established a kiln and pottery studio at his property in Murrumbeena, where he produced the first art pottery in Australia. He was trying to combine the functionality of ceramic wares with creative sculptural forms. Murrumbeena provided everything that he needed — he dug the clay from his own backyard and mixed the glazes using his own recipes.

Merric Boyd’s life was lived at the margins. Although a gifted potter, he lacked business awareness and his family largely relied upon financial assistance from his mother, Minnie Boyd. He was also affected by epileptic seizures and during an era when little was understood about epilepsy, he was surrounded and supported by his extended family. This included his parents, his mother-in-law, and his children and their families, who all lived in a tranche of property on the northern side of Wahroonga Crescent, Murrumbeena. Merric Boyd’s children have become household names in Australian art: Lucy Boyd (married to ceramicist Hatton Beck), Arthur Boyd (painter), Guy Boyd (sculptor), David Boyd (painter) and Mary Boyd (painter and married firstly to John Perceval and then to Sidney Nolan).

Reference: Brenda Niall, The Boyds, 2002.