Important Australian + International Fine Art
6 May 2015


(1920 - 1999)

oil on composition board

60.5 x 44.5 cm

signed lower right: Arthur Boyd
titled verso on artist's label: "UPTURNED BOAT ON / BUDGONG CREEK"

$40,000 - 60,000
Sold for $60,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 39 - 6 May 2015, Melbourne

Gould Galleries, Melbourne
Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

Arthur Boyd's celebrated series of images based on the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales began with a chance visit during the blazing summer of 1971-1972. Boyd had been living in England for fourteen years but returned to take up the position of Creative Arts Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra. Invited to a colleague's home on the Shoalhaven at Bundanon near Nowra, Boyd experienced a dramatic re-encounter with the stark contrasts of the Australian bush and the clarity of its light, one which was to have a profound influence on his future work. In 1974, he purchased the nearby property Riversdale located in a small valley adjacent to the river and moved there the following year. His subsequent paintings, drawings and prints captured many aspects of the region's landscape with the solidity of its features set against the ephemeral effects of light, often incorporating mythological motifs which carried deep significance for the artist.

'I have used several themes to allegorise (the Shoalhaven landscape). One of them was Narcissus' the stillness of the river and the echoes in the valley originally triggered the idea. Echo was in love with Narcissus but he only looked at himself and she faded away. The self-absorption of Narcissus particularly interests me.'1 Extended walks and horse rides took the artist into secluded areas of the river valley. On one such journey he found a sheltered pool on the Budgong Creek, leading him to comment that 'the pond surrounded by lilly pilly trees could be a setting for Narcissus himself'.2 In Upturned Boat on Budgong Creek, c1982 the brown-green water and the tangle of trees provide evidence of otherwise turbulent natural events along the river, but now the pond is still and eerily quiet. Boyd has transformed the semi-submerged rocks into an upturned boat drifting aimlessly by the shore. The artist used the motif of the boat many times during his career including a celebrated series depicting two lovers entwined within their craft as the waters surge around them. By contrast, Upturned Boat on Budgong Creek is a tranquil scene disrupted only by the presence of a lone Ibis-like bird hovering above the water. Could this be the spirit of the tragic Echo calling for her lost love?

Companions to Upturned Boat on Budgong Creek include A Pond for Narcissus with Lilly Pilly Trees, 1978 (Bundanon Trust); Budgong Creek Road, 1978 (Christie's, Australian Art, London, 10/10/2012, lot. 89); and Rocks Budgong Creek, c1979 (Art Gallery of South Australia).In 1993, in a gesture designed to preserve this unique landscape, Arthur and Yvonne Boyd gave the family's 1,100 hectare Shoalhaven properties to the people of Australia. This gift continues to enrich the nation through the talents of legions of artists and writers who have subsequently spent residencies at Bundanon, deep in the heart of 'Boyd country.'

1. Boyd, A., quoted in McGrath, S., The Artist and the River, Bay Books, Sydney, 1982, p. 290
2. Boyd, A., op. cit., p. 62