"Doris was a marvelous artist and a wonderful human being." David Boyd



Portrait of Doris Boyd Penleigh Boyd c.1908 Oil on Cigar Box Lid 305 x 228 mm

Doris Gough was born on the 20th of November 1889. She was the youngest of the six children of journalist and editor Evelyn Gough (nee Rigg) and naval officer Thomas Bunbury Gough, and grew up in St Kilda. Her father died when she was ten years of age. In 1908, after completing her schooling, she studied art at the National Gallery Art School. While there she met and formed a close relationship with Penleigh Boyd. It was through him that she met his older brother, Merric.

Doris and Merric Boyd were married on October 12 1915 at St. Stephens Church in Elsternwick. Merric had already established a studio residence at number 8 Wahroongaa Crescent in Murrumbeena which he called Open Country. Born in 1888, he had come to Murrumbeena in 1913 and with the assistance of his parents, Arthur Merric Boyd and Emma Minnie Boyd, built a pottery there.


Doris Boyd with Dorothy Rathausky and daughter Karin at Open Country c. 1917

In late 1916, Merric sailed to England to serve in the First World War, leaving Doris with their first born child, Lucy, born in August 1916. As a result of this and in order to help care for Doris and baby Lucy, Merric's parents and Doris's mother, Evelyn, moved to the Crescent to support them. This meant that for six years, between 1916 and 1922, the extended Boyd family occupied the entire northern flank of Wahroongaa Crescent. Merric was overseas for two years and during that time, Doris and Lucy lived with her mother at her home that she called Green Pastures. Open Country was rented to Victor and Dorothy Rathausky, who with their family, became life-long friends of the Boyds. In late 1919 Merric returned to Australia and resumed his pottery making.


Doris Boyd c.1920
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Merric and Doris Boyd with baby Lucy at Open Country 1916

From the first year of marriage, Doris worked closely with Merric, supporting him in his artistic pursuits. She decorated many of his pots, often with line drawings of trees and rural landscapes. While much of her decoration is unsigned on his pots, it can often be recornized by its more refined and impressionistic nature than Merric's. She also painted in oils and watercolours, frequently using the central family room at Open Country, the brown room, as her studio. She sketched and painted in the Open Country garden, and on family picnics and sketching trips in the local area and further afield, such as on the Mornington Peninsula and around Westernport Bay.

She helped Merric with the arduous task of selling his pottery in city stores like Mair and Lyne, Georges, the Mutual Stores, the Primrose Pottery Shop and Lily Ronald's florist shop. In their early years they caught Murrumbeena's hansom service to Murrumbeena Station before catching a train to Flinders Street. Carrying heavy cases packed with pottery they would go from store to store selling their pottery. Doris often did the negation of the sales, Merric finding this task too stressful.

Doris also would sit up with Merric for the many hours it took to complete a pottery firing.

David Boyd "The firing of the kiln was spread over two or three days. It would need to be stoked at one or two hour intervals depending on the stage of firing. Merric and Doris would sit in the brown room, chatting together during the night. Merric would catch up on his sleep over the two or three days it took the kiln to cool."


Sculptured head of Doris Merric Boyd c. 1914 - 1915 plaster 370 (h) mm*


Doris Boyd sketching on the Yarra River ur 255 x 355 mm Emma Minnie Boyd 1914 Watercolour 255 x 355 mm

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Open Country Murrumbeena Emma Minnie Boyd 1921 Watercolour 340 x 500 mm. Lucy and Hatton Beck Collection

"The painting is of my mother, walking down to Granny Gough's home, which was 'Green Pastures'. She is carrying Arthur in her arms and I'm running towards the gate. The girls standing on each side of the gate are Edna and Myra Keys. Their parents rented Green Pastures from Granny Gough. She built two little places out the back of Green Pastures, which you can see in the painting. She lived in one and rented out the other." Lucy Boyd 2003.

In her early years at Murrumbeena Doris frequently exhibited her paintings. Her last exhibition was with friend and fellow artist John Yule in May 1947. In addition to painting, Doris wrote prose and poetry.

Lucy Beck "She used to paint a lot of memories of dawn. She had a truly intuitive feeling. Granny Boyd had a fantastic technique, but she didn't have this wonderful sort of impressionistic feeling that my mother had. I loved my mother's painting. Painting was to her the important thing, and the children."

David Boyd "I suppose you'd say that Doris was essentially an intellectual, whereas Merric was all emotion, and creative fire. But there certainly was no lack of creative fire in Doris. She was constantly at it. She was a very loving woman. She was marvelous. She was very intelligent and had a great wit. She was abundant in her energy and was always on the go. They were both intensely active in a creative way."

Arthur Boyd was born in 1920, Guy in 1923, David in 1924 and Mary in 1926. Throughout these busy child-raising years, Doris provided her family with the support and stability it needed while Merric was busy making his pottery and bringing the family its income. In the early 1920's and with the support of Evelyn Gough, herself a Christian Scientist, Doris and Merric adopted the Christian Science faith. Christian Science gave Doris and Merric a great deal of comfort and support through some of the more challenging periods of their lives. One of the greatest of these occurred in 1926 when Merric's pottery exploded and was destroyed by fire. As a result of the fire, later on that year, Merric taught pottery at the New England Girls' School in Armidale New South Wales. A public appeal was established to raise money to build Merric a new pottery, and in 1927 it was completed, allowing him to fire his own pottery again.

Despite the financial difficulties brought on by the fire and the Depression that followed in 1929, the Boyd children were always fed, and while their clothes may have sometimes been worn and patched, they were loved and always cared for.

David Boyd "Times were certainly lean during the Depression years. Despite this I never remember not having adequate clothing, even if those clothes were tatty and mended hand-me-downs. And we never went without food. Doris always believed in feeding us all properly. She gave us food and warm clothing and an abundance of love. They were the top priorities."


Doris Boyd with her children. From left; Guy, Arthur, Lucy, Mary and David in 1929


Doris Boyd
Arthur Boyd 1934 chalk 480 x 320 mm
Reproduced with the permission of the Bundanon Trust

Doris and Merric always encouraged their children to explore and practice art, believing it to be a form of normal and everyday expression.

David Boyd "There were always plenty of places for us to draw and there was always plenty to draw with and on. We were permitted to carve and scratch and draw and scribble anything on the walls. At that time Guy, Mary and I slept in my mother's bedroom. We carved a dragon through the plaster. I can't recall how long it took, but I remember working on our dragon over a period of time. It might have been months, perhaps even longer. Doris encouraged us. She used to compliment us on the way our dragon was coming along."

Lucy Beck " I remember Arthur drew and carved a landscape into the wall in mummy's bedroom. It was about two metres high and three metres wide and had a huge tree in it. A lot of it was in a soft blue colour."

In the early 1930's, Max Nicholson, a university graduate in English Literature, became a friend of the Boyds, initially coming to Open Country to recruit members to the local scout group. He introduced the Boyds to new books, ideas and people, widening the intellectual scope of Open Country and encouraged a tradition of open and lively discussion that would continue in the decades to come.

David Boyd "Max was a very polite and intelligent youth. He became a very close friend of the family, particularly of my mother. Later on, he brought people such as Yosl Bergner, Peter Herbst and a number of university lecturers and graduates to Murrumbeena. He introduced a level of literature that we may not have had. He widened the scope at Murrumbeena and was a catalyst for so many things."


Max Nicholson Doris Boyd Undated Oil 400 x 300 mm *

In 1934, Doris and Merric worked for the Australian Porcelain Insulator Company at Yarraville. The company made insulators from porcelain. Merric threw this form of clay to make pots while Doris shared the decoration with him. They would leave for Yarraville early in the morning and return late at night. They remained there for only a few months, the journey and time away from their family being too great.

With the outbreak of World War Two, Doris and Merric saw their three sons enter the armed forces.

David Boyd " She had great faith. She believed that we would be alright and she turned out to be right, one way or another. But it didn't stop her from being anxious. Mary told me this. She talked to Mary at length about her feelings at the time, about how awful it was. Not only just for Doris herself being a mother, but for others too, their husbands and brothers being carted off in the First War and then the system coming along to claim their children in the Second. That would have had an affect on her."

After the War, as family members returned to Open Country, they brought with them their own families and friends and social circles. There was a coming together of a wide range of people, including artists and intellectuals and writers. The post-war environment at Open Country was exceptionally stimulating.

David Boyd "There were parties and gatherings and so on; it was all very nice and friendly. Max Nicholson, the Langleys, the Coutts, Sid Nolan, Charlie and Barbara Blackman, and Tim and Betty Burstall would come over. I think Yosl Bergner was still in Melbourne at that time. There'd be 50 people or more in the brown room. Maybe I'd be playing piano and people would be dancing around, maybe smaller groups would be discussing something to do with the arts or literature or politics, anything."

As these Doris was often at the centre of these discussions. She established many enduring friendships throughout these years.

David Boyd "Doris was always absorbed in whatever she was doing, whether it was painting or drawing or writing, and took an interest in what we were all doing. She was greatly loved by everybody."

Lucy Beck "My mother was very interested in writing. It's really wonderful that she had this time, discussing things."


Doris Boyd John Perceval 1948 Oil


The Boyd family at Open Country c.1951


Mummy Taking Rest Merric Boyd c.1954 pencil 182 x 242 mm

In the middle and latter years of his life Merric Boyd suffered from epilepsy. While remaining incredibly creative throughout his entire life, this condition did have a impact on his ability to care for himself. As a result, Doris increasingly became Merric's carer, enabling him to remain artistically productive and expressive. By the mid 1950's, those of her children who had been living at Open Country and supporting their parents had moved away to establish their own homes. While all of the Boyd children remained close to their parents and actively supported them, the vibrancy at Open Country that Doris had enjoyed also left, leaving Doris to care care for Merric. He died quietly at Open Country in September 1959. Doris remained at Open Country. She lived there with her grandson Robert Beck who was in Melbourne working with and learning from David Boyd. Doris died at Open Country nine months after Merric's death, on 13 June 1960.


Potter's Wife in Garden at Murrumbeena Arthur Boyd 1964-67 Oil on canvas 1143 x 1092
Reproduced with the permission of the Bundanon Trust


Portrait of Doris Boyd Hermia Boyd c.1962 Oil on Glass 290 x 220 mm *


Paintings


Untitled Undated Watercolour *

Untitled Undated Watercolour 220 x 340 mm *

Untitled c. 1930 Oil 380 x 330 mm **

Early Morning c.1920 Oil 476 x 443 mm *


Untitled Undated Watercolour 265 x 250 mm *


Untitled Undated Watercolour 275 x 250 mm *


Port Melbourne / The Docks Williamstown c.1930
Watercolour 530 x 355 mm *

The Light c.1935 Oil 640 x 500 mm *

Untitled Undated Watercolour 125 x 150 mm *




Untitled Undated Watercolour 190 x 220 mm *

Untitled Undated Watercolour 270 x 360 mm *

Trees Undated Watercolour 230 x 290 mm *

Untitled Undated Watercolour 330 x 415 mm *

Untitled Undated Watercolour 180 x 240 mm *

Untitled Undated Watercolour 330 x 415 mm *

Seascape c. 1930 Oil 565 x 762 mm *

Untitled Undated Watercolour 180 x 245 mm *

Portrait of Merric Boyd Undated
Watercolour 350 x 260 mm *

Bush Scene Undated Paint 262 x 235 mm *

Untitled Undated Oil 320 x 180 mm *

Portrait of David Boyd c. 1930 Oil 260 x 210 mm *


Portrait of David Boyd c. 1935


Untitled Undated c. 1920, Oil 490 x 455 mm *
David and Hermia Boyd Collection

Untitled Undated Oil *

Beach with Boats & Umbrella c. 1934 Oil 545 x 695 mm *

Untitled Undated Watercolour 175 x 250 mm *


Yvonne & Arthur Boyd House
Beaumaris 1954-55 Watercolour 390 x 510 mm *



Portrait of a Woman Undated Oil 400 x 340 mm *



Untitled Undated Watercolour *



Untitled Undated Watercolour 180 x 245 mm *

Moses in the bulrushes c. early 1950s Watercolour on paper 350 x 370 mm


Lucy Boyd aged about 21 years
c. 1936 Oil on canvas 340 x 290 mm


Pavlova c. 1929 Watercolour on paper 490 x 360 mm

Portrait of Merric Boyd* Watercolour
c.1950 335 x 245 mm

Fruit trees in blossom, Murrumbeena
Oil on board c.1930 310 x 230 mm
Painted Tiles



Rural Landscape c.1947 174 x 479 mm * Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra


Rural Scene
c.1947 308 x 920 mm
* Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra

Coastal Scene Undated 150 x 150 mm *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra

Rural House Undated 150 x 150 mm *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra

Yacht & Sea Gulls Undated 153 x 153 mm *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra

Figure by the Sea Undated 153 x 153 mm *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra

 

 



Painted under Tree Undated 222 x 307 mm *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra


Untitled Undated 153 x 153 mm *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra
Ceramic Decoration

Jug with trees Decoration by Doris Boyd
1930 H: 168 mm *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra



Jug with bush scene Decoration by Doris Boyd
1915 H: 160 mm *

Vase Decoration by Doris Boyd *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra

Vase Decoration by Doris Boyd *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra

Vase with seascape Decoration by Doris Boyd
1930 H: 92 mm


Vase Decoration by Doris Boyd 1938 H: 140 mm


Vase Decoration by Doris Boyd 1926 H: 170 mm *






Vase Decoration by Doris Boyd c. 1923 H 77 mm *
Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra

Vase   Decoration by Doris Boyd 1935
Modeling
 

Protection 1936 150 x 160 mm *

Small Figures * Collection: Bundanon Trust, Nowra

Return to Start

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This web site was conceived and written by Colin Smith, and developed by Paul Caine and Colin Smith with the help and support of Lucy Beck and David Boyd

Quotations in 'Doris Boyd; A Life in Family and Art' have been taken from interviews with Lucy Beck and David Boyd by Colin Smith in 1997, except for David Boyd's first quote (2003)

David Boyd has granted permission to reproduce the art work of Doris Boyd,
Merric Boyd and Hermia Boyd on this web site

Bundanon Trust has granted permission to reproduce the drawings and
painting by Arthur Boyd on this web site

Thank you to Niki Mortimer and the Bundanon Trust for their help
in the making of this site

Art work photographed by * Paul Caine ** Colin Smith

2003

*** Other Web Sites By Us ***

Hatton Beck
Merric Boyd His Life & His Art
Friedl Gardner
Jean Langley Painter and Writer
Lucy Boyd Beck A Life In Family and Art