An Open House is a personal memoir of growing up in the Boyd family, Australia's pre-eminent artistic dynasty. Youngest son David Boyd (recently deceased), himself an artist, takes us deep inside the family home, 'Open Country', to witness day-to-day life and the influences that shaped the extraordinary talents that would emerge. Nurtured and supported by their often-eccentric father, potter Merric Boyd, and devout mother, also a potter, Doris - as well as their artist grandparents, Emma Minnie and Arthur, both established painters at the time of their marriage - children Lucy, Arthur, Guy, David and Mary enjoyed an extraordinary life of freedom among the sprawling Murrumbeena garden. David roams the fields and paddocks that surround the home, immersing himself in the nature that he adores and will later inform his art and music. In this unfettered environment, a young Arthur removes a portion of the roof of the house to build himself a painting studio where the light is best. Artistic expression, music, poetry and philosophic discussion are the order of the day in the 'Brown Room', the family living room and centre of their cultural life.
Artists, writers and philosophers are welcomed (David recalls the legs of ballet dancer Anna Pavlova), as well as the odd waif whom Merric collects in his travels - often sending them on their way with a fine piece of his pottery, much to the annoyance of Doris who struggles with the family finances. Their way of life is often at odds with conservative society, and the children encounter prejudice when they first attend school, where they realise long hair for boys is not the norm. They soon realise their family is not like others. We follow David through his first forays into the world of paid work in pre-war Melbourne, with varying success and sometimes amusing mishaps. His elevation as a musician is interrupted by the outbreak of war and we see the Boyd brothers, committed pacifists, reluctantly conscripted to the army. Written just prior to his death in 2010 at the age of 87, David Boyd's highly personal family memoir provides unique and fascinating insight. Highly entertaining and accessible, An Open House is an important contribution to the nation's artistic heritage and a revealing portrait of one of our most famous families by one who lived in it.