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Object Connection – Qi Life Force

Qi in Arthur M Boyd

In 1985 as an undernourished student in my twenties I bought a little ceramic dish for 50 cents in a garage sale. Residing within the little dish is a magical dancing green dragon and on the reverse it is inscribed AM Boyd.  That moment quietly changed my life, it started my interest in art collecting, and today I still love that happy image in a dish that draws my touch, I think about it from time to time and it is a happy object.

In 1913 William Merric Boyd built a small house called ‘Open Country’ at Murrumbeena on the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne. It was a creative enclave where he and his artist wife Doris nurtured a creative family of five children.

In 1944 his eldest son Arthur Merrick Boyd, along with John Perceval and philosopher Peter Herbst took over the studio space at Murrumbeena and established the Arthur Merric Boyd (AMB) Pottery.

Initially the younger Boyd traded off his father’s name and only later did Arthur’s fame eclipse Merric’s. The production of pottery for Arthur, and the other young Boyd siblings and his friends was not only a means of achieving an income, but also, importantly, helped them to establish professional careers as artists in other media.

AMB pottery closed in 1958 leaving a legacy of functional and artistic works produced, arguably, by painters rather than potters.

Object Connection – Qi Life Force

You know that feeling when you see something that not only takes your eye but you have to reach out and touch it – when an object has a magnetic attraction, we are responding to the ‘Qi’, the life force. What sets us apart as humans is our thinking and feeling that leads to manual ability which defines all things human over other species – our humanity is in our hands.

The Chinese say that when art and objects speak to us – like the first time I saw Arthur’s magical little dragon and I reached out and touched it – that was life’s force imbued in a pot, embodied within a magical green lizard reaching across time from the 1940s-50s asking to be touched it makes me happy every time I see it.

It’s alive with the creative power of Arthur – his gift of Qi.

Qi at Hatherley Birrell Collection

The happy magic of Qi and abundant creative energy is shared and experienced at Hatherley Birrell Collection.

– Jack Birrell

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Illuminations and Free Voices


Lighting Hatherley from 1835
It is amazing to think that artificial light at night is relatively recent. First there were candles or lamps that burnt wax or oil. Lots of candles would have been used at Hatherley, hundreds burnt every month, thousands of candles burnt each and every year… up until around 1860.

In August 1860 Launceston gained more than 25 kilometres of gas pipeline serving the first 132 shops, 60 hotels and public houses, 37 private dwellings, 9 public buildings, 6 places of worship, three printing offices and one theatre connected to the gas works. As well there were 123 municipal street lights, five marine board lights and and three private street lights.

Despite the commissioning of the council’s Duck Reach hydro power scheme in 1896 the demand for gas for heating and cooking continued up until the late 1970’s.

Hatherley is today a chronological study from early colonial to present day artificial lighting – of converted oil lamps, gasaliers, chandeliers made to run on gas, and electric lights. The glass lenses range from hand etched blown glass spheres, to european handcrafted cut crystal. One of the main lights in the Dowling Room is an ornamental gasalier is likely a McEwan’s ‘Elegant Ormolu’ with six gas lights featuring a pulley system to raise or lower the fitting.

The beautiful and intricate Ceiling Roses of Hatherley

A ceiling rose is a decorative element adorning the ceiling of a room often used to suspend a chandelier or light fitting and Hatherley displays a beautiful range of ornamental rose designs.

The rose has symbolised secrecy since Roman times. It promises secrecy, the rose suspended above a meeting table symbolises the freedom to speak plainly without repercussion, which goes back to Tudor times and lives on to this day.


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Illuminations and Free Voices
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Art of Hatherley – George Gittoes


Fluid & confident line work of George Gittoes

Fluid & confident line work of George Gittoes

George Gittoes – Art Not War
Recently we had the opportunity to sponsor the stay of famous war artist and peace prize winner George Gittoes and his performance artist partner Hellen Rose. What an amazing couple, after an unforgettable dinner and hours of conversation our lives felt enriched from their energy and passion. During their stay George created this inspired, amazing work of art. The piece is an illustration of George and Hellen’s experience at Hatherley Birrell Collection and features them both bathing in the volcanic carved rock bath surrounded by sunfish and artworks that hang in The Muse Garden Pavilion – Tom Samek, Picasso, Barbie Kjar…

George & Hellen viewing the private art collection at Hatherley House

George & Hellen viewing the private art collection at Hatherley House

Yellow House Jalalabad
George Gittoes the 2015 Sydney Peace Prize recipient and partner Hellen Rose are based in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where the pair run an artist collective, the Yellow House.

The Yellow House provides a safe space where artists working across all mediums can meet, work and create, safely away from the destructive forces they face in their daily lives.

All the artists of the Yellow House believe the best way to bring peace and positive social change is not with the weapons of war but with a broad range of creative media and artistic strategies. The Yellow House is solely funded from the sale of artworks and films by George and Hellen.

If you would like to learn more about the Yellow House visit:   

George & Hellen’s visit to Launceston 
George & Hellen were invited to visit Launceston by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery to participate in the Community Festival for Peace in July 2015
George & Hellen were compelled to visit Tasmania in preparation for the Community Festival for Peace, because at a time when everyone was talking about the Centenary of the First World War, Launceston was the only city in Australia to focus on peace, not war.

“The reason why I agreed to it and wanted to do it was I thought it was fantastic. It was one city, in Australia, that was doing a peace theme.” Gittoes said.

The Community Festival for Peace ran from July 10th to 12th in Launceston and was centred around using creativity to express peace and goodwill. “It was particularly relevant to me because I’ve been out to Uruzgan Province and Tarin Kot and I’d met a lot of the beautiful young Australian soldiers who’d spent 15 years in Afghanistan and I’d read with tears every time one of them had been killed and thought of their families.” 

Gittoes has said his experiences in Afghanistan shows clearly the positive power of creativity over the destructive power of weaponry.

For details on the Community Festival for Peace, visit 

Discover more about George Gittoes via his website

George Gittoes art diary

George with one of his diaries  

George Gittoes, Hellen, Artwork

 George explains his inspiration behind the work














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Luxury boutique accommodation

The Muse Garden Pavilion – Experience boutique luxury accommodation in Launceston, Tasmania.

A source of inspiration. Relax and breath into bursts of creativity in your own private garden area. Art filled and completely modern with origami inspired roof form, moon window, large contemporary glass bathroom and private deck with outdoor bath carved from volcanic stone.

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