ARTHUR MERRIC BOYD: From Generation to Generation

Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery c.1950 - Photo by National Gallery of Victoria
Arthur Boyd, ‘David and Saul’, c. 1952, glazed earthenware – Photo by National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Arthur Merric Boyd was a successful potter in his time, born into a family of potters and painters. His mother was a remarkable painter and was said to be perhaps better than her husband in Art. His parents were painters and potters for a living, and Arthur started his pottery adventure by watching his parents. He learned painting, pottery making, and some sculpting.

He collaborated with two colleagues to start a pottery, which marked the start of his great career. His children held on the painting and pottery career, alongside other arts like literature, music, architecture, and so on. They also held up Arthur Boyd’s legacy after his passing.

Merric Boyd and his family’s commitment to painting, potting, and sculpting is a major contributory factor to the promotion of art in Australia and Australian art around the world. This creative family has also added great value to the artistic heritage of Australia. These artistic endeavours spread to music, literature, and architecture.

Early life of Arthur Merric Boyd

Family and friends at Open Country, c.1951, (Right to left, back) David Boyd, Merric Boyd, Hatton Beck, (Right to left centre) Guy Boyd, Lucy Boyd (with child), Mary Boyd, John Perceval, unidentified, Yvonne and son Jamie Boyd, (Right to left, front) Doris Boyd, Arthur Boyd, Joy Hester- Photo by National Gallery of Victoria

In the year 1920, Arthur Merric Boyd was born to the couple – Merric Boyd and Doris Gough in Murrumbeena. They were both outstanding painters and potters, and made a living from making and selling beautifully painted pottery at Melbourne Market, from 1912. Doris often spent time painting Merric’s work and practised some sculpting on the side. Their children learned the art of painting and pottery at her side.

Arthur Merric Boyd (1920 – 1999) was the second of five children born to Merric and Doris. His siblings were Lucy, Guy, David, and Mary. And they all took to their parents’ practise, so much that they even got married to people who were inclined to painting, pottery, and other arts. This career path became a family career and tradition, passed down their generations.

Merric Boyd

Merric Boyd was a young man who grew up around Melbourne and then moved after his secondary education when he was 25 years old to Murrumbeena. Here he was training to become a minister in a church, as he worked as a salesman and a farmer. He then developed the interest in pottery and sculpting, and chose to become an artist. He owned the “Open Country”, a studio built for him by his parents Arthur Merric and Emma Minnie Boyd in 1913. Merric also built a kiln and a pottery from where he crafted spectacular pieces of pottery. This pottery, however, was burnt up in a fire incident in 1926; after which he struggled to take care of his family. He had married Doris Gough who was also an artist and had five artistic children who later carried on in their father’s artistic career.

Arthur Merric Boyd’s pottery story

An image of Judas kissing Christ by Arthur Boyd, 1952-1953 – Photo by Art Gallery of New South Wales

Arthur Merric’s father, Merric Boyd, started a great line of painting and pottery, even though he was known mainly as a painter and not a potter, the Arthur Merric Boyd brand known as the AMB brand of pottery, holds high his name in this industry as the father of this art in Australia.

AMB (Arthur Merric Boyd) Pottery stands out as a leading brand of pottery in Australia. It was established by a son of Merric Boyd – Arthur, alongside his partners Peter Herbst, and John Perceval, in Murrumbeena. In the year 1944, the three bought Hatton Beck’s Pottery, in the event of Hatton Becks and his family moving from Murrumbeena to Brisbane; and established the Arthur Merric Boyd (AMB) Pottery there, carrying on the legacy of their family tradition from the 18th century, and making it one of the foremost pottery brands in Australia. At the start, the pottery produced items that the government needed after the war (ramekins, bowls, salt shakers, cups, dishes, and mugs). Later in the 1940’s, they produced more artistic items like landscape paintings – painted onto platters and very colourful pottery. They also made tiles, vases, jugs, and a lot of terracotta sculptures. They sold their works at “Georges”, Primrose Pottery, and the neighbourhood pottery (Neerim Road Pottery). Some of their famous works are “Judas kissing Jesus Christ”, “Arthurs Boyd’s Mother and Child”, “David and Saul”, and “The Bride”. Some other works were called “John Perceval’s Delinquent Angels”, and Neil Douglas’ fancy bowls and platter having Australian flora painted on them.

In 1958, Arthur went to England to become a painter and became one of the most renowned Australian painters in England.

His later years in pottery

Arthur Merric Boyd by 1955, closed up dealings with his partners – Peter Herbst and John Perceval.

He was not as active anymore in pottery making as he used to be from the year 1948. He eventually closed the pottery in 1958, and relocated to England with his family, and practised some pottery there. Every once in a while, he practised ceramic painting and sculpting.

AMB’s influence on their neighbours

Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery, Plate with kangaroos, lyrebirds and ferns 1951, Neil Douglas(decorator), John Perceval (potter) – Photo by National Gallery of Australia

Neil Douglas replaced Peter Herbst as a partner at the AMB pottery in 1950; who started out by joining the workforce as just a worker. Many more workers joined the team, including David and Hermia Boyd, Tom Saunders, Charles Blackman, Jean Langley, and others. Among them was Carl Cooper who was Boyd’s neighbour, and patronized the AMB Pottery, and got his pottery work fired there until he was able to open his own studio at home on Omama Road.

As much as many neighbours worked at AMB pottery, and patronized their works, some neighbours were still baffled at their kind of job, which was at the time somewhat strange, and their looks, which was always clay dust covered, having long hair, and looking ill. Some neighbours did not consider it to be a shop, because it did not look so.


Neil Douglas and John Perceval ran AMB Pottery even after Arthur Merric Boyd left the business and relocated. They made pottery with the AMB label until 1962. The name Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery lived on and remains popular.