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Memorial service for Arthur Boyd, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 27 May 1999: transcript of address.

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27 May 1999






Thank you very much, Dr Kennedy; to Mrs Yvonne Boyd and the other members of t he Boyd family; to Kerry Stokes, David Gonski, my colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Beazley, Gough Whitlam, ministerial colleagues, friends of the Boyd family, ladies and gentlemen.

I do feel particularly privileged to have been asked to make a small contribution as Prime Minister to this very special gathering that honours a very great Australian. Those words ‘great Australian’ are used perhaps a little too freely on occasions but in the case of Arthur Boyd it hardly does justice to the extraordinary impact that he had on art in this country and the extraordinary impact he had on the lives of so many that he touched.

Not only did he succeed in giving generations of Australians a new and different understanding of the Australian landscape and, therefore, a freer and different way of interpreting the character of our country, he was also associated with a very vibrant group of artists who collectively had an extraordinary impact on the artistic life of our nation. And he belonged, of course, to a very remarkable artistic family, many of whose members are here today and in their different capacities and skills have made such a contribution to our lives. But he was also more than an extraordinarily gifted and skilful artist, he was also an incredibly gentle and courteous and sensitive man. And he was also a lover of the Australia that he knew so well and displayed so well for so many of his fellow countrymen.

He was also a great philanthropist. In many ways he was a role model for philanthropy in this country. And the gift of the wonderful Bundanoon property on the Shoalhaven, he saw that as a natural thing and a natural obligation that he had to his nation and to the community that loved him so much and the community that he gave so much too. So not only do we as a nation today honour and thank Boyd for his remarkable talent, thank providence that he was given to us, that he was an Australian and that he made an impact on our nation, but we also warmly and sincerely thank and honour him for his generous spirit and the generosity that he has displayed through the Bundanoon Trust to the Australian community.

It is appropriate, it is dignified and it is nice in every sense of the word that we do have an occasion like this appropriately here in the National Gallery to pause and remark upon a very remarkable Australian, a very remarkable artistic life and a person, in every sense of the word, fully qualifies for that most honourable of all descriptions that any person can have and that is a great Australian.




jy  1999-09-02  15:28