Lucy Boyd Beck; a Life in Family and Art
Ceramic painting 405 x 315 mm c. 1985
Lucy Boyd Beck was born in August 1916 in Melbourne Street, Murrumbeena. Lucy was the first-born child of Merric and Doris Boyd (nee Gough). Merric Boyd was born in 1888. His mother, Emma Minnie Boyd (nee a'Beckett) and father, Arthur Merric Boyd, were painters. Merric explored several career paths, including as a jackeroo and a dairy farmer. He also considered ordination in the Church of England, before deciding to become a sculptor. In 1912 his parents established a studio residence for him at 8 Wahroonga Crescent Murrumbeena, which he called Open Country.
Doris Boyd c.1920
Merric Boyd in his pottery at Open Country in 1914
Doris Gough was born in 1888. She was the youngest of the six children of journalist and editor, Evelyn Gough (nee Rigg) and naval officer, Thomas Bunbury Gough. Her father died when she was ten years of age. She grew up in St Kilda and in 1908, after completing her schooling, studied art at the National Gallery Art School. Merric's brother, Penleigh was also studying there and it was through Penleigh that Doris met Merric.
Doris Boyd with baby Lucy at Open Country 1917.
Merric and Doris were married in 1915. In late 1917, Merric sailed to England to serve in the First World War. He was overseas for two years. During this time, Doris and Lucy lived with Doris' mother in her home in Wahroongaa Crescent. Evelyn called Green Pastures and she came to the Crescent in 1916 to support Doris in Merric's absence. During this time Open Country was rented to Victor and Dorothy Rathausky. The Rathausky's and their five children became lifelong friends of the Boyds.
Lucy "Merric went to the War towards the end of 1917. I was about sixteen months old. It was a difficult decision for him to go. He'd received so many white feathers. He had a conscience and he probably felt that maybe they were right."
Lucy attended St. Peter's School in Neerim Road, Carnegie and then Murrumbeena State School. Her brother, Arthur was born in 1920, followed by Guy in 1923, David in 1924 and Mary in 1926. From an early age, Lucy and her siblings were encouraged to express themselves through art. Merric worked with clay, in sculpture and at the wheel, and drew. Doris wrote poetry and painted in oils and watercolours. She also decorated much of Merric's pottery.
Merric Boyd with Lucy and
Arthur Boyd at Open Country c. 1922
Merric Boyd with Lucy and
Arthur Boyd at Open Country c.1922
Lucy "We were always down in the pottery with Merric. He would give us clay. I remember I did a little thing that I called 'A little doggie behind a bush'. It was probably a lump of clay and another bigger lump of clay. It was up on the mantelpiece for a long time."
Open Country Murrumbeena. Emma Minnie Boyd 1921
In 1926, Merric's pottery was destroyed by fire. This had a significant impact on Merric's health and greatly reduced his ability to make and sell pottery. This event, along with the coming Great Depression, caused the Boyds a great deal of financial hardship.
Lucy "During the Depression, I wasn't really aware that we were at times quite poor. My mother was very protective. She never mentioned poverty. She never said 'Oh we're too poor to do this', even though they would sell pots that she had soup in; they'd tip soup out into another pot and sell the pot if somebody
Lucy went to Mac.Robertson's Girls High School for two years, passing her Intermediate Level. She enjoyed school and was academically very capable, but left school at the height of the Depression to help support her mother.
Doris Boyd with her children.
From left; Guy, Arthur, Lucy, Mary and David in 1929
Lucy "I left because I had to help my mother. She never made demands on me until I was actually at high school, when I had to devote more time to my work. Up until then, she never asked me to do a thing, but I instinctively knew that because I was the eldest, that I had to help. I couldn't just do my work in a haphazard way, when my mother needed help so badly. I didn't bear my mother any ill will over leaving school at all, because I was so fond of her. She was so gentle and wise. She used to say, "I don't have to tell my children how to behave; I expect them to know."
In the early 1930's, to supplement her family income, Lucy went to work at Avenel, near Seymour in central Victoria. Her father's cousin, Frankie had two young children and Lucy became their nanny.
Lucy "I enjoyed the time at Avenel. I loved the country. I'd feed the lambs. I used to get up and light the fire in the morning. Except for the girls, and Mary and Frankie, I lived completely a sole life. It was a most unusual life for a girl of my age."
Lucy Boyd aged about 21 years
by Doris Boyd. Oil on canvas 340 x 290 mm c. 1936
In 1935 Lucy returned to Murrumbeena. By this time Hatton Beck, the man Lucy would later to marry, had met and was working with Merric. Hatton, born in Cassilis in eastern Victoria in 1901, was himself a potter and living in Oakleigh. When Merric was unable to fire his pottery after the loss of his pottery in 1926, he did so in Hatton's kiln. This continued until his new pottery was built and operational in 1927.
Lucy and Hatton were married at Open Country in 1939.
Lucy "The whole room was decked with pear blossom. The bloom was absolutely wonderful. Daddy was excited about it all. Although Hatton and Merric used to have their scraps, they respected each other tremendously. He said that Hatton was a 'good man'. We lived in the bungalow at Murrumbeena, which had been the pottery for quite a while. The first thing we bought was a grand piano, which Hatton had always wanted. In a sense, Hatton really did bring music to the family. Merric played when he had his own piano at Granny's, but he only played the piano at our place when Hatton brought one along. That piano was given to Hatton. He gave it to the family to put in the brown room."
Lucy and Hatton's first child, Laurence was born in 1940, followed by Robert in 1942. In the early 1940's, Hatton established the Altimira Pottery in a former butcher's shop in Neerim Road, Murrumbeena, making jugs and other utilitarian wares. In 1943 the pottery was acquired by Arthur Boyd, John Perceval and Peter Herbst, and became the Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery.
The Boyd family at their Murrumbeena Pottery
Hatton joined the air force and was discharged at the end of the War. In 1947 he secured a teaching position at the Brisbane Technical College. That year, Lucy and Hatton and their family moved to Brisbane.
Lucy "We got this idea that it would be lovely to go to Brisbane to live. Hatton had loved Brisbane when he was there. We bought some land and had a house built, and moved up there. It was a nice little house on two blocks, and very well situated, only about three miles out of Brisbane. It had a high verandah and the breeze would come up the valley and it was so beautiful. I loved it."
Their third son, Paul, was born in 1948. With two of her sons at school, Lucy found the time to draw.
Lucy "When Paul went to the kinder, I started drawing. I used to do Paul a lot, which was good practice because when your subject doesn't sit still for long, you do things quickly.
I really didn't have the natural technique that Mary had. She had an extraordinary technique, like Granny Boyd, and she was intuitive. I didn't have her technique, but I was intuitive. It's rather interesting. I read in a description of my attitude to painting and art, which said that my interest was in nature and the spirit. That is what I was really about, and that if something moved me emotionally, I could do it."
From Brisbane, the Becks made annual trips to Murrumbeena.
Lucy "We came down to Melbourne once a year for Christmas. A couple of times we came down in the August. We were a very close family and I looked forward to it. I think we only missed one year when we went up north. I loved coming back to Open Country."
Merric Boyd, who in his latter years had increasingly suffered from the affects of epilepsy, died in 1959.
Lucy "I was at Murrumbeena when Merric died. I had to come down to look after my mother because she wasn't well, and my father wasn't well either. I was glad to be there to be with her at that time."
In 1960, while Lucy was in Brisbane, Doris Boyd died of a heart attack at Open Country.
Lucy "I knew she had a bad heart. She used to get breathless and that sort of thing. It comes when you're working hard physically and you're worried. You get a great bang in your chest. Mummy said that used to happen to her. She had had to do so much and her heart was so stressed. It was her heart that couldn't stand it."
In 1961, after thirteen years in Brisbane, Lucy and Hatton returned to Murrumbeena.
Lucy "I was sorry to leave Brisbane. I loved our little house and I didn't really want to sell it, but Hatton wanted to come down for his work and the boys were down here. Staying in Brisbane would have separated me from them so much."
At Open Country, Lucy and Hatton established a pottery school, as well as making, exhibiting and selling their own pottery.
Lucy "We had morning and afternoon and evening classes in the old pottery. The first night when we advertised, we didn't get anybody. It was an awful night; wet, rainy and horrible. We waited and waited, and then suddenly there was a knock on the door. It was a very nice woman named Sheila Manchester . She came in and loved it, and got two or three others in. It built up from there."
The Becks, with the support of Robert who did much of the throwing, taught pottery for two years. The school was successful, building up to about sixty students a week.
Lucy "I loved teaching pottery at Murrumbeena. I enjoyed working with other people because I like people. We had a lot of Jewish people because they're very fond of ceramics. It was the first time I'd really cooperatively taught at all, because Hatton had been so busy teaching at the Technical College in Brisbane."
In 1963, Lucy and Hatton left Open Country and settled in the outer Melbourne suburb of Boronia.
Lucy "Teaching pottery got out of hand because we had too many students. You try and keep a proper balance, and have time to do your own work, but it was getting to the stage where we were just teaching and doing nothing else. Teaching so many people was draining. It was financially rewarding, but it wasn't really what we really wanted to do."
In 1966 Lucy and Hatton left Melbourne and sailed to England.
Lucy "We wanted to go to England. I was very anxious to go there; I had always wanted to go. The three boys were all there." Hatton worked at the National Gallery there, and along with Lucy and Robert, established a pottery at Wandsworth Common.
Lucy Boyd Beck with Hatton Beck on the steps of the Sacre Coeur, Paris 1969
Lucy Boyd Beck with a ceramic painting c 1968
Lucy and Hatton returned to Melbourne in 1970 to live at Arthur Boyd's Beaumaris house. There they continued to work in ceramics, and especially on their ceramic paintings.
Their last working period was at Bayswater, where Hatton worked into his late 80s. Later, they lived at Parkdale. Hatton Beck, whose health was failing at this time, died in November, 1994 at the age of ninety-three. Lucy moved to a supported accommodation facility in Cheltenham before settling at the Bayside Hostel in Mordialloc in 2002.
Lucy and Hatton Beck at the home of Friedl Gardner c. 1985
Lucy died on the 8th of April 2009. She is greatly missed by all who knew her.
Lucy Boyd Beck at Mordialloc September 2004 *
CLICK ON IMAGES TO SEE ENLARGEMENTS CLICK ON IMAGES TO SEE ENLARGEMENTS
Plate by Hatton Beck and decorated
by Lucy Boyd Beck
260 mm diameter Undated
Untitled. Oil 280 x 380 mm. Undated
Watercolour and Pastel. Undated
We Belong to Nature
270 x 340 mm c. 1986
Out of Darkness
Water Colour 380 x 280 mm
Lucy Boyd Beck at Mordialloc September 2004 *
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 Boyd Beck and with the assistance of Rob and Margot Beck 2004.
Quotations in 'Lucy Boyd Beck; A Life in Family and Art' have been taken from interviews with Lucy Boyd Beck by Colin Smith in 2002. All art work has been reproduced with permission of copyright owners All photographs have been reproduced with permission of copyright owners.
*** Links to other web sites by us ***
Merric Boyd His Life & His Art
Friedl Gardner : A Life In Family And Art
Doris Boyd : A Life In Family And Art
Jean Langley Painter and Writer