Historical information

Geoff Davidson arrived at Dunmoochin around 1968 and began living and working as an apprentice to the potter Robert Main, who was working in a studio rented to him by Clifton Pugh on the Dunmoochin property. When Robert left, Geoff moved into the studio and began collaborating with Clifton Pugh on many projects for a period of 25 years whereby Clifton would decorate pots made by Geoff.

Geoff produce the ceramic panels for Leda and the Emu. He mixed and identified the glazes for Clifton, then fired the panels once he had finished painting. Three or four murals were produced in this way, one of which was purchased by Don Dunston (ex-Premier of South Australia) as a gift to his dying wife.


Dunmoochin derives its cultural and artistic heritage from the collaborative efforts of a group of artists who purchased land in Cottles Bridge in the early 1950’s. These artists (Pugh) pioneered one of the first artistic communes in Australia and created a lasting vision of how a community can gain knowledge and inspiration from living in a close relationship with nature.

Pugh had explored the ‘Leda and the Swan’ mythological themes previously during the sixties in etchings and paintings, although he was more interested in referencing the original myth as allusions to other truths. Pugh was drawn to the Greek myth ‘Leda and the Swan’ in which Zeus transforms into a swan to seduce Leda. Pugh Australianised the myth so that Zeus transformed into an Emu rather than a Swan, and makes a gentle satirical comment on the sexual behaviour of the Australian male, whereby he sees a parallel between this and the proud yet awkward movements and naivety of our national bird. This particular theme was prevalent in Pugh's work right through the 60s and 70s.

Leda and the Emu is a work by two prominent local artists (Clifton Pugh and Geoff Davidson) with a national and international reputation.

Physical description

Flat red background, black foliage. Leda is naked and sleeping with head resting in hand. Emu is to the left watching Leda. Drawing style is typical of Pugh’s work: linear, flat and gestural.

Inscriptions & markings

Signed 'II Clifton'