A member of the well-known artistic Boyd family, Boyd started to paint and pot from an early age and despite an ongoing arts practice that also included photographry, Boyd is best remembered as the subject of several portraits by her brothers and as the wife of painter John Perceval and later Sidney Nolan.
painter and potter, the last child born to potters Merric and Doris Boyd, grew up at Open Country, Murrumbeena, on the rural outskirts of Melbourne. Like her sister and brothers – the artists Lucy, Arthur , Guy and David Boyd – Mary learned to pot and paint from the cradle. Known to art audiences as the wife of John Perceval, mother of artists Matthew (b.1945), Tessa (b.1947), Celia (b.1949) and Alice (b.1957), and the wife and constant companion of Sidney Nolan in the final phase of his life, Mary Boyd is a more central figure in the postwar art world than the absence of an oeuvre might suggest. Her early environment was one of female initiative. Indeed, the Boyd children were guided in their childhood by a powerful trio of women: Doris, who had studied at the Gallery School and who continued to paint after her marriage; 'Granny Gough’, a Fabian, pacifist and women’s rights campaigner, who in her retirement built a cottage at Murrumbeena; and 'Granny Boyd’, the painter Emma Minnie Boyd , who was the financial mainstay of Open Country during difficult times.
Mary’s paternal grandmother had exhibited alongside Streeton , Roberts and Conder and preserved a sense of independence, knowing very little of the encroaching world of commercially-driven reputations which, in Emma Minnie’s lifetime, ousted the cultural production of a genteel class. This increasingly competitive ethos kept Doris ...
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