Arthur Boyd: Landscape of the Soul
13 Mar – 2 May
Landscape of the Soul is Bundanon Trust’s new three-year nationally touring exhibition exploring a lifetime of landscape paintings by renowned Australian artist Arthur Boyd. Curated by Barry Pearce the exhibition is drawn principally from Bundanon Trust’s own collection of the artist’s work.
The exhibition features up to 60 paintings, including a group of masterpieces borrowed from major state art museums, as well as 20 works on paper, letters, photographs and sketchbooks spanning almost half a century and featuring works from his adolescence through to his final years.
A Bundanon Trust touring exhibition
IMAGE: ARTHUR BOYD, Lovers on fire in boat with kite, 1965, oil on canvas. Bundanon Trust Collection
Artist Profile /Artistic career Extract from Wikepedia
Following the war, Boyd, together with John Perceval founded a workshop at Murrumbeena and turned his hand to what he since childhood had seen his father’s hands occupied with, pottery Later came ceramic painting and sculpture. Although Boyd was the closest of friends with Albert Tucker, Joy Hester and Sidney Nolan and the art patrons John and Sunday Reed, the modernist Heide Circle and its hierarchical structure did not beckon him overtly as his position in the Boyd family gave him the fullest identity in itself
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Boyd traveled to Victoria’s Wimmera country and to Central Australia including Alice Springs and his work turned towards landscape paintings. During this period, perhaps his best-known work comes from his Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-Caste Bride series of 31 paintings, also known as The Bride, that imagined an Aboriginal person of mixed descent as a neglected outsider. First exhibited in Melbourne in April 1958, the series met a mixed reaction, as it did later that year in Adelaide and Sydney. Following the 1999 acquisition of Reflected Bride 1 by the National Gallery of Australia, the gallery’s director Brian Kennedy commented in 2002:
The Bride paintings are among the greatest expressions of conscience by an Australian artist. Brilliantly executed and of sustained quality, Reflected Bride 1 speaks to contemporary Australia, beseeching reconciliation, understanding and a tolerant, compassionate meeting of old and new cultures.
Boyd’s paintings are not pretty, however, and carry a pervasive magical and somewhat menacing atmosphere. It is as if the figures and the landscape are one. The bride rises from the stream, an Ophelia caught by a groom whose foot hooks a tree. The bride is staring at an absurd mask-like white bride’s head which appears to glow out of the forest. This is a surreal wilderness, a strange place of nightmarish dreams.
In 1956, Boyd’s ceramic sculpture ‘Olympic Pylon’ was installed in the forecourt of the Melbourne Olympic Swimming Pool
Relocates to Europe
Boyd represented Australia with Arthur Streeton at the Venice Biennale in 1958, where his Bride series was well received.
He was affiliated with the Antipodeans, a group of painters founded in 1959 and supported by Australian art historian Bernard Smith, who tried to promote figurative art when abstract painting and sculpture was dominant. The group exhibited at the Whitechapel gallery in London. In 1959 Boyd and his family moved to London, where he remained until 1971.In London, he started receiving commissions for ballet and opera set designs, and, after taking up etching and returning to ceramic painting, in 1966 he began the Nebuchadnezzarseries in response to the Vietnam War as a statement of the human condition. While in London, Boyd entered another distinct period with his works themed around the idea of metamorphosis.
He produced several series of works, including a collection of fifteen biblical paintings based on the teaching of his mother, Doris. Later he produced a tempera series about large areas of sky and land, called the Wimmera series.
Return to Australia
The recipient of a Creative Arts Fellowship from the Australian National University, in 1971 Boyd and his family returned to Australia as one of Australia’s most highly regarded artists. In 1975, Boyd donated several thousand works including pastels, sculptures, ceramics, etchings, tapestries, paintings and drawings to the National Gallery of Australia.
In 1978, Arthur and Yvonne Boyd purchased properties and settled permanently at Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River. The following year, ABC TV and BBC TV co-produced the television documentary film, A Man of Two Worlds, based on Boyd’s life and work. During the latter part of Boyd’s painting career, his landscape works were based on the Shoalhaven River.At first encounter, Boyd was a little overwhelmed to paint the area; he found the scenery rugged and wild, vastly different from the landscapes he knew. But over the years, painting scenes of the Shoalhaven River and the surrounding bushland, he befriended the formidable landscape. This resulted in a significant series of paintings that are not simply landscapes but rather, a fusion of Boyd’s European and Australian backgrounds.
“His Australian scapegoat paintings of the 1980s explored constructions of Australian identity in the lead up to the bicentenary of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1988. With their violent imagery and aggressive colouring they draw on archetypes of Australian military history to suggest the futility of war. In addition to painting, Boyd worked prolifically in ceramics, designed sets for the theatre, and provided illustrations for the poems of Australian poet Peter Porter.”
Boyd donated a villa in Tuscany to the Australia Council for an artist-in-residence program in 1982. In 1984, he was commissioned to design a tapestry based on the painting Untitled (Shoalhaven Landscape) for the Great Hall at the new Parliament House in Canberra. The work is one of the world’s largest tapestries. Yet Boyd could not find the strength to fight for the retention of the lower rectangle ablated by the building consultants. This tapestry was produced in the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne.He also produced sixteen canvasses for the foyer of the Victorian Arts Centre in the same year.
Boyd again represented Australia at the 1988 Venice Biennale with eight major works; and at the 2000 Venice Biennale. Boyd was commissioned to paint Earth and Fire for the cover of the 28 November 1988 Time magazine special issue dealing with environmental conservation in Australia.
A major retrospective of Boyd’s work was exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1993.
In 1997 for the first time Boyd exhibited together with the six members of his artistic dynasty under one roof; with brothers David and Guy, son Jamie, and nieces Lenore and Tessa Perceval. The exhibition entitled the Best of Boyd comprised 80 paintings and 40 bronze sculptures. The exhibition was held in Galeria Aniela Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, NSW. Documentary reviews were shown on the ABC TV Australian National News, 18 May 1997 and the ABC TV Sunday Afternoon, June 1997.
Boyd died in 1999 at 78 years of age. He was survived by his wife Yvonne, their son Jamie, and daughters Polly and Lucy.
In 1993 the Australian Government accepted the gift of Bundanon, valued at the time at A$20 million. The 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) property owned by Arthur and Yvonne Boyd was given to the people of Australia. Located approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Nowra, the gift was entrusted to the Bundanon Trust, along with further gifts by Boyd, including copyright of all of his artwork, and several thousand works of art from five generations of Boyds, and other Australian artists. These properties provide an environment that promotes visual arts, writing, music and other performing arts, and the promotion of education and research in the arts.
Blue Mountains Cultural Centre
Level 1, 30 Parke Street
Katoomba NSW 2780
(02) 4780 5410
Gallery and Shop
Monday – Friday 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday + Sunday – 10am – 4pm
Public Holidays – 10 am-2 pm (closed Good Friday and Christmas Day).
Monday – Friday: 9.30 am – 4 pm
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Trains arrive at Katoomba Station every hour, and we are only a short journey from the station on foot or bike via Katoomba St or Parke St. We’re directly alongside the Carrington Hotel (you can’t miss the giant smokestack).
Undercover parking (access via Parke St) is available below the Cultural Centre, which also provide elevator access. The Cultural Centre is located on level 1.
Australian concession card holders: $3
InSight Members: Free
Children under 16: Free
Your admission ticket allows entry to our permanent exhibition Into the Blue and the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery.