Artist David Boyd died, aged 87, in November 2011. He was just one of the extraordinary talents in the Boyd Artistic Dynasty, comprised of around 30 artistically blooded Boyds and their families, including David’s brother, painter Arthur Boyd, and David’s brother-in-law, painter Sidney Nolan.
Boyd’s oeuvre spans several artforms. Originally a musician, Boyd established himself as a leading name in the Australian pottery scene of the '50s, following in the footsteps of his sculptor father Merric Boyd. With his wife Hermia, Boyd introduced new techniques in glazing and the use of the potter’s wheel to shape sculptural figures. He began painting professionally in ’57, pioneering the ‘Sfumato’ technique, using candle flames and smoke to conjure ghostly images.
Boyd soon became one of the Australian arts scene’s most outspoken voices. He was one of seven Australian artists who contributed to the ’59 Antipodean Manifesto – an exhibition and essay protesting against abstract expressionism – but also used his art throughout his career as a means to comment on social justice and the treatment of Australia’s Indigenous people.
Eva Breuer Art Dealer and the National Trust SH Ervin Gallery’s upcoming exhibition, David Boyd: His Work, His Life, His Family, celebrates Boyd, showcasing over 200 paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics created by five generations of the Boyd family. Nicky McWilliam, director of Eva Breuer Art Dealer, says that the collection was curated in part by Boyd himself. “Each piece is a piece that was discussed by David with me in conversations we had before he died, and it was around these conversations that the exhibition was curated,” she said. “The exhibition is not intended to critically appraise his work in any way. We’re just saying this is his career, this is life and this is his family – as told by him.”