Lyndon Dadswell

Untitled (abstract figures)

Chalk and acrylic on board

Lyndon Raymond Dadswell was born on 18 January 1908 at Stanmore, Sydney. Lyndon attended Julian Ashton's Sydney Art School (1924-25) and East Sydney Technical College (1926-29). Trained under Rayner Hoff, Dadswell moved away from an early interest in commercial art to specialise in sculpture and modelling. In 1929 Dadswell left the technical college to work as an assistant to Paul Montford in Melbourne on the sculptural project for Victoria’s memorial to World War I, the Shrine of Remembrance. Dadswell produced twelve huge relief panels in Hawkesbury freestone illustrating all sections of the Australian armed services.

Returning to Sydney in 1932, he won the Wynne prize for 1933 with `Youth’ (AGNSW). Dadswell was only the fifth sculptor to win this prize in its forty-year history. With the proceeds he travelled to London in 1935 to further his studies, enrolling at the Royal Academy schools. Dadswell remained at the Royal Academy until 1937, when he returned to Australia to take up a teaching position at East Sydney Technical College.

On 29 April 1940 Dadswell enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Posted to the 2/3rd Battalion, he fought in North Africa and Greece. He was seriously wounded in Syria in June 1941; the injury permanently impaired his vision. In September he was commissioned as a lieutenant and appointed a war artist. He returned to Australia in March 1942.

In 1943 Dadswell returned to East Sydney Technical College (later the National Art School), where he became head of the division of fine arts in 1966. Due to his commitment to sculptural experimentation, his skills as a modeller and his belief in fostering the artistic growth of each student, the school became a nationally respected institution for sculpture training. His work was exhibited in Sydney and Melbourne. Dadswell’s contribution to Australian sculpture was three-fold: through his own substantial and varied body of studio work; through his activities and innovations as a teacher of two generations; and through his public role as a sculptor, and promoter, of major civic commissions. He died on 7 November 1986 at Elizabeth Bay and was cremated. His work is represented in the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery of Australia and most State galleries.