William Merric Boyd | The Father of Australian Studio Pottery

Australian artist, ceramicist and sculptor, William Merric Boyd, known as Merric Boyd was born in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda, on 24 June, 1888. He has become “the father of Australian studio pottery”. The second son of Arthur Merric and Emma Minnie Boyd, Merric is one of the many generations of the Boyd dynasty, which includes painters, sculptors, architects and other arts professionals. His siblings included:

  • Eldest, John Gilbert à Beckett Boyd (1886–1896) who was killed in a riding accident,
  • Theodore Penleigh Boyd (1890–1923), a landscape artist, who married fellow painter Edith Susan Gerard Anderson,
  • Martin à Beckett Boyd (1893–1972), a writer, and;
  • Helen Read à Beckett Boyd (1903–1999), a painter, who married naval officer, Neven Read.

Growing up, Merric Boyd lived in Sandringham, where he was educated at nearby Haileybury College, until he was eight. The family moved permanently to the family farm at Yarra Glen and Boyd attended Dookie Agricultural College, with aspirations of turning his hand to farming; and then he considered entering the Church of England as a clergyman, spending time studying at St John’s Theological College, Melbourne.

Merric married painter Doris Gough (1889-1960), and together, they founded their home at Wahroongaa Crescent, Murrumbeena, naming it “Open Country“. It was here, that Merric established the pottery kilns in 1911, and is said to be Australia’s first ceramic artist. Merric Boyd and family were supported financially by Merric’s maternal grandmother Emma à Beckett. It was Emma’s fortune, inherited from her father John Mills, an ex-convict who founded the Melbourne Brewery, that allowed their family to live comfortably.

Merric evolved a style of pottery decoration, based on Australian botanical and animal motifs, towards the end of his life. Merric made many primitive studies of plant and animal life in coloured crayons, establishing a continuance of artistic tradition to the name Boyd. It was in Murrumbeena, that he and Doris raised a young family of further Australian artists and painters, including:

  • Lucy Evelyn Gough Boyd (1916–2009), painter, ceramic decorator, who married Hatton Beck (1901–1994), a ceramist, potter, and sculptor.
  • Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd (1920–1999), painter, married Yvonne Lennie, painter.
  • Guy Martin à Beckett Boyd (1923–1988), early poet, potter, sculptor, who married Phyllis Emma Nairn.
  • David Fielding Gough Boyd (1924–2011), potter, painter, married Hermia Lloyd-Jones, a ceramic decorator, artist, and stage designer.
  • Mary Elizabeth Boyd (1926–2016), a pottery enthusiast and photographer who married firstly, John Perceval, painter, potter, and sculptor, and had four children; and later, Sir Sidney Nolan, painter, becoming Lady Nolan.

William Merric Boyd died on 09 September, 1959.

Website | About | Facebook | Twitter

“Is It Art?”

Source: McCulloch Alan. Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hutchinson: Richmond, 1977
This entry was posted in Art and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply