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Moya Claire Dyring (1909–1967)

by Juliet Peers

This article was published:

Moya Claire Dyring (1909-1967), artist, was born on 10 February 1909 at Coburg, Melbourne, third child of Carl Peter Wilhelm Dyring, medical practitioner, and his second wife Dagmar Alexandra Esther, née Cohn, both Victorian born. Moya was educated (1917-27) at Firbank Church of England Girls' Grammar School, Brighton. After visiting Paris in 1928, she studied (1929-32) at the National Gallery schools, Melbourne, and shared fellow student Sam Atyeo's interest in artistic innovation.

Classical modernism engaged her attention in the early 1930s. She painted at the George Bell school and studied under Rah Fizelle in Sydney; Mary Alice Evatt and Cynthia Reed were her colleagues. For several months in 1937 she took charge of Heide, the home and garden of John and Sunday Reed, at Bulleen, Melbourne. The Reeds were pivotal both to her sympathy for modernism and her belief in congenial fellowship. She enjoyed something of the intense relationship with Sunday Reed that the latter would subsequently extend to Joy Hester. In June Dyring held an exhibition, opened by H. V. Evatt, at the Riddell Gallery, Melbourne. Less enthusiastic than the Reeds and the Evatts about her art, Basil Burdett wrote of her 'somewhat incoherent interpretation of modern ideas', although he did acknowledge that her work had 'audacity of colour and a certain monumental feeling for form . . . qualities rare enough in Australian painting'.

In August Dyring embarked for Panama whence she travelled by bus to New York, breaking her journey to view major galleries. She had intended to paint in the United States of America, but disliked the work of contemporary American artists and sailed for France. In 1938 she was based in Paris, taking advantage of Atyeo's contacts within the avant-garde. She studied at the Académie Colarossi, the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and with Andre Lhote, although by October she denounced him as a 'racketeer'.

In 1939 Dyring and Atyeo settled on a farm at Vence, France; inspired by memories of Heide, they grew fruit and flowers. Sam accepted a commission to decorate a house in Dominica, West Indies, leaving Moya at Vence. Evacuated to Australia via South Africa, where she painted and searched for tribal art, she then journeyed to Dominica and married Atyeo. They were not happy, neither painted and Dyring was ill. Evatt offered Atyeo work and Dyring accompanied him to the U.S.A. She viewed art, painted occasionally and claimed to have exhibited in Washington in 1943. After World War II Evatt found Sam various postings, while Moya returned to Paris to pursue a full-time career in art. They were to be divorced in 1950.

From about 1946 Dyring's art was more personal than innovative. She gained a considerable reputation among French regionalist and nationalist artists for her sympathetic appreciation of provincial scenes and life. Bernard Smith placed her in the French tradition of intimiste painters. In 1948 she leased and renovated an apartment on the Ile St Louis, which, as Chez Moya, became a centre for Australians who enjoyed her hospitality, cooking and practical assistance. She revisited Australia and exhibited in various cities in 1950, 1953, 1956, 1960 and 1963; the press carried her reports of Parisian cultural life.

Dyring held a solo exhibition in London in December 1949 and was in close contact with expatriate Australians, among them Loudon Sainthill, Donald Friend, David Strachan, Alannah Coleman and Margaret Olley. In 1961 she curated the Australian section of the Paris Biennale. She died of cancer on 4 January 1967 at Wimbledon, London. An apartment for visiting Australian artists was established in her memory at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris.

Select Bibliography

  • B. Reid (ed), Modern Australian Art (Melb, 1958)
  • C. France, Margaret Olley (Syd, 1990)
  • People (Sydney), 3 June 1953
  • Art and Australia, 4, no 4, Mar 1967
  • Herald (Melbourne), 24 May 1937, 18 Oct 1963
  • Argus (Melbourne), 4 June 1937
  • Bulletin, 9 June 1937
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 3 July 1950
  • Moya Dyring studio (Art Gallery of New South Wales files)
  • Reed papers (State Library of Victoria)
  • papers held by author
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Juliet Peers, 'Dyring, Moya Claire (1909–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 15 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


10 February, 1909
Coburg, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


4 January, 1967 (aged 57)
London, Middlesex, England

Religious Influence

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