David and Hermia Boyd

As you may be aware, I have recently featured a few artists who were represented in the Know My Name exhibition at The Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, which I went to with fellow blog writers, Jane and Caroline. This Gallery was hosting a subset exhibition of a larger exhibition in Canberra, Australia.

The Know My Name initiative is part of an ongoing series of gender equity displays which seeks to raise the profile of women artists who have previously been omitted from published histories and public collections.1

But today I would like to focus on Hermia Boyd, as one of her prints was on show in this exhibition.

The extended Boyd family, over a number of generations, can truly be said to be an artistic dynasty in Australia. They were renowned in many fields of endeavour, including painting, watercolour, pottery, music, literature, architecture, and poetry.

Anne has written about some of the Boyds previously, and you can find her posts if you search the name "Boyd" using the magnifying glass in the top right hand corner of the web page.

But I hadn’t heard of Hermia Boyd, and so I was keen to find out more. Here is the drawing that was included in the Know My Name exhibition:

Credit: National Gallery of Australia.

In actual fact, Hermia Boyd became famous due to her working relationship with her husband, David Boyd. Hermia was born Hermia Sappho Lloyd-Jones in Sydney in 1931, the daughter of graphic artist Herman and his wife Erica Lloyd-Jones. She studied sculpture under Lyndon Dadswell at East Sydney Technical School from 1945-1947, where she met David Boyd who had come up to Sydney from Murrumbeena, in Melbourne, to study and to help his brother, Guy, set up a pottery there. Despite being an accomplished, classically trained pianist, David had decided to concentrate on pottery following the end of World War II.

The following link to a blog by Damon Moon in Willunga, South Australia, (not far from Rowdy Wylie in Victor Harbor), provides very good information about David Boyd’s parents, how the children learnt about ceramics from an early age, and David and Hermia’s life together.

A Family Affair – the Boyds and the History of Australian Ceramics - Damon Moon
Damon Moon discusses an overlooked chapter in the history of Australian ceramics This article was published in The Journal of Australian Ceramics, Vol 48 No 3, November 2009. Permission has been given to make it available on this website. © The Australian Ceramics Association 2014 http://www.australianceramics.com/

David and Hermia were married in 1948 and set up a pottery for themselves in Sydney with fellow Melbournian Tom Sanders, producing a range called Hermia Ware as well as making larger one-off pieces for exhibition.

Unusually for a man of his time, David treated Hermia as an equal partner in their artistic ventures. Marks were either painted or incised on their pieces with either 'Hermia Ware', 'Hermia', 'Boyd / England', 'D + H Boyd' or 'David + Hermia Boyd'.

In 1950, they went to Europe where they established pottery studios in London and in the South of France.

In 1956, they returned to Murrumbeena in Melbourne and continued to make and exhibit ceramics, and in 1961 settled in Rome. Early in 1970 they went back to Spain and the South of France where Hermia also studied etching.

Hermia and David Boyd at their Greenwich pottery, UK, 1953. Image credit: From the book "The Pottery and Ceramics of David and Hermia Boyd" by John Vader, page 46.

Despite being pioneers in Australian pottery for 20 years, they closed all their potteries by 1968 because David wanted to concentrate on painting and sculpture.

They came back to Murrumbeena permanently in 1975, where David took on many high profile themes, including a series on the Tasmanian Aborigines. He was said to be ahead of his time in creating powerful statements via his art.

Hermia is well known for her ceramics, glass and drawings, which make up the majority of her work in the National Gallery of Australia Collection, which you can view in the two links below:

Search the Collection - National Gallery of Australia - National Gallery of Australia
Search the Collection - National Gallery of Australia - National Gallery of Australia

...........and there are more of her prints here:

Boyd, Hermia. (1931–2000) · Related works · Australian Prints + Printmaking
Search our free online databases for Australian printmakers and other creators, prints (26,000 images), print exhibitions, bibliographies, biographies and news.

Did you notice the number of prints involving Sappho?

Sappho, c. 630 – c. 570 BC, was a Greek poet from the island of Lesbos, known for her lyric poetry, written to be sung to music. In ancient times, Sappho was widely regarded as one of the greatest lyric poets and was given names such as the "Tenth Muse" and "The Poetess". Most of Sappho's poetry is now lost, and what does exist is only in fragments. Only the Ode to Aphrodite is complete. 2

I was unable to find any information about why Sappho featured in so many of Hermia’s prints.

I also find it fascinating to note that Hermia’s middle name is Sappho, but we can only wonder what that connection is about, as I couldn’t find anything about that either.

Maybe one of our readers will be able to shed some light on this for us! Do let us know if you have any information!

David and Hermia Boyd had three daughters, and it is not surprising, with such artistic lineage on both sides of the family, that their three daughters Amanda, Lucinda, and Cassandra also became artists.

Sadly, their daughter Amanda died in 1998, Hermia died in the year 2000, aged 69, and David died in 2011, aged 87.

In June 2008 David was awarded an OAM for his services to art, as a painter and an innovator of design and technique in pottery and ceramic sculpture. What a fitting tribute to the artistic partnership of Hermia and David for over 50 years..........


  1. With thanks to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (MPRG).

  2. With thanks to Wikipedia.

  3. Other references


https://australianpotteryatbemboka.com.au, Australian Pottery at Bemboka