Colour photograph of Sylvia Motherwell playing a pair of bongo drums at a party, wearing a pink 1970s-style maxi dress. She is being silly for the camera. Lindsay and Sylvia were a very active social couple who enjoyed music, theatre and social gatherings.

Sylvia Boyes (a South African-born orphan) and Lindsay Motherwell (a Melbourne-born drummer) met in Cape Town, South Africa in 1967 through their theatre connections. They fell in love but due to apartheid laws were forced to leave South Africa to marry in London. They subsequently relocated permanently to Melbourne in 1970.

Description of Content

Woman playing two red hip-height bongo drums. She is wearing a hot pink maxi dress with ruffled sleeves. One hand is striking a bongo, and the other is in the air in a performative pose.

Physical Description

Colour photograph


Statement of Historical Significance:
This collection provides a significant opportunity to represent political and personal freedom as a motivation for migrating to Australia within the international context of both apartheid in South Africa and the end of the White Australia policy in Australia. The personal narrative is well documented and the objects provide a material way to follow the lives of both Lindsay and Sylvia, both separately and where they coincide in South Africa and onwards together to Melbourne. While this is ultimately a love story, it plays out through the collection against the backdrop of apartheid South Africa, sixties London and an increasingly multicultural Australia.

More Information