'Boat builders, Eden' 1948
Reproduced with permission of Bundanon Trust
In Arthur Boyd's work there is a complex weaving together of imagery originating in personal experience with the art of the past. Boat builders, Eden is reminiscent of the crowded panoramic scenes of the sixteenth-century Flemish painter Pieter Breughel, yet the landscape is specifically Australian and recognisable as Twofold Bay near Eden, on the south coast of New South Wales.
It is possible that Boyd's interest in Eden comes from its association with his namesake, Ben Boyd, the nineteenth-century entrepreneur who founded Boyd Town on the southern shore of Twofold Bay. In the far distance of the painting we see the Ben Boyd lighthouse.
Boat builders, Eden is one of Arthur Boyd's most enjoyable pictures. The dark anxiety of the artist's wartime paintings has dissipated, and the general mood is of brisk and peaceful activity.
Born in Melbourne into a family of artists and writers, Boyd is recognised as one of the greatest Australian artists of the twentieth century.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008