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Home of the Boyds: Harkaway and the Grange

BY Bunjil Place | 11-May-2018
The relationship of the famous Boyd family dynasty with the Harkaway and Narre Warren region is explored in Home of the Boyds: Harkaway and The Grange, a defining new exhibition at Bunjil Place Gallery in Melbourne’s south east. The exhibition is the first-of-its-kind to focus exclusively on a little known but nationally significant Australian story. It is a story that spans a century, centred around three generations of Australia’s best-known artists and their family property, a place of creative vitality.
It was at Harkaway that the pioneering W.A.C. à Beckett and Emma Mills acquired and built The Grange, a house and surrounding property that was to feature prominently in the art of the Boyds from the mid-19th century through to the 1960s. It was where the aspiring artist Emma Minnie Boyd (1858-1936) learned to paint and where the internationally acclaimed novelist Martin Boyd (1893-1972) penned his semi-autobiography about the many comings and goings to the house and his aspirations for a new life in Australia. It was also at Harkaway where the young Arthur Boyd (1920-1999), one of Australia’s most celebrated artists, created murals on the dining room walls and perfected his open air and studio painting, producing what many consider to be one of the finest body of Australian landscape paintings.

Curated by independent curator Rodney James, Home of the Boyds: Harkaway and The Grange includes a comprehensive group of Arthur Boyd’s ‘Berwick’ landscape series as well as murals, paintings, drawings, ceramics and prints produced by Arthur and other family members, friends and visitors to the house. James has travelled the country talking to experts and scholars as well as many of the descendants of the families and has tracked down some of the most iconic Australian works held in major collections, and many treasures that have not been seen publicly in up to 40 years.

“The Grange at Harkaway was one of the most significant of The Boyd family havens. It was where the artistic union between the à Beckett and Boyd clans began and it was pivotal to their attachment to nature and the development of their attitudes to Australia,” explains James.

For curious art lovers and creators there is a hive of activity to explore alongside the exhibition. Highlights include a Mother’s Day Art Talk and Tea event, Arthur Boyd and The Boyd Family – an in-conversation event hosted by Bundanon Trust, and Music and Boyd - an afternoon performance by celebrated concert pianist Alexander Boyd on Bunjil Place’s very own Steinway grand piano. Another highlight is Building Our Backyard – a cubby village which gives the littlies a chance to get creative at the homestead, much like the Boyds. All public program details can be found at bunjilplace.com.au

City of Casey Mayor Cr Geoff Ablett acknowledged the significance of the exhibition to the local region.

“It is fitting that Bunjil Place Gallery’s first major winter exhibition focuses on the work of such revered modern masters. A number of Australia’s most significant artists have worked close by or within the City of Casey municipality. The story of the Boyd and à Beckett family in Harkaway is special and deserves to be told,” he said.

Bunjil Place is south-east Melbourne’s newest arts and entertainment precinct. Adjacent to Westfield Fountain Gate, the precinct brings together arts, entertainment and community in a way that is unparalleled in Australia. Bunjil Place is the first precinct of its kind, featuring an unprecedented mix of facilities including outdoor community plaza, 800-seat theatre, 200 seat studio, gallery, function centre and next-generation library.