In 1985 as an undernourished student in my twenties I bought a little ceramic dish for 50 cents in a garage sale. Residing within the little dish is a magical dancing green dragon and on the reverse it is inscribed AM Boyd. That moment quietly changed my life, it started my interest in art collecting, and today I still love that happy image in a dish that draws my touch, I think about it from time to time and it is a happy object.
In 1913 William Merric Boyd built a small house called ‘Open Country’ at Murrumbeena on the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne. It was a creative enclave where he and his artist wife Doris nurtured a creative family of five children.
In 1944 his eldest son Arthur Merrick Boyd, along with John Perceval and philosopher Peter Herbst took over the studio space at Murrumbeena and established the Arthur Merric Boyd (AMB) Pottery.
Initially the younger Boyd traded off his father’s name and only later did Arthur’s fame eclipse Merric’s. The production of pottery for Arthur, and the other young Boyd siblings and his friends was not only a means of achieving an income, but also, importantly, helped them to establish professional careers as artists in other media.
AMB pottery closed in 1958 leaving a legacy of functional and artistic works produced, arguably, by painters rather than potters.
Object Connection – Qi Life Force
You know that feeling when you see something that not only takes your eye but you have to reach out and touch it – when an object has a magnetic attraction, we are responding to the ‘Qi’, the life force. What sets us apart as humans is our thinking and feeling that leads to manual ability which defines all things human over other species – our humanity is in our hands.
The Chinese say that when art and objects speak to us – like the first time I saw Arthur’s magical little dragon and I reached out and touched it – that was life’s force imbued in a pot, embodied within a magical green lizard reaching across time from the 1940s-50s asking to be touched it makes me happy every time I see it.
It’s alive with the creative power of Arthur – his gift of Qi.
Qi at Hatherley Birrell Collection
The happy magic of Qi and abundant creative energy is shared and experienced at Hatherley Birrell Collection.
– Jack Birrell