Part 1: Important Fine Art
26 November 2014


(1908 - 1986)


48.5 x 21.5 x 16.0 cm

edition: 1/5

bears signature and edition number at base: L.DADSWELL 1/5
bears inscription inside base: Crawfords Casting 86

$30,000 - 40,000
Sold for $36,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 37 - 26 November 2014, Melbourne

Estate of the artist
Private collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

Lyndon Dadswell originally intended to follow a career as a commercial artist, but turned to sculpture after working under Raynor Hoff at East Sydney Technical College in the late 1920s. He then became a studio assistant to Paul Montford, who was working on Melbourne's new Shrine of Remembrance. Dadswell was responsible for twelve large relief panels for the project, a series of works commissioned in 1929 which drew considerable praise and attention. He returned to Sydney and important commissions followed, while success in the 1933 Wynne Prize marked him as a major figure in Australian sculpture. He used the prize money to travel to England where he was strongly influenced by the organic modernism and truth to materials philosophies of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. He returned to Australia where he remarried just before the outbreak of war in 1939. Somewhat surprisingly, he enlisted for active service in April 1940, even though his age and marital status could have delayed the obligation for some years. His 2/3rd Battalion saw heavy fighting in the Greek, Libyan and Syrian campaigns and Dadswell suffered gunshot wounds to the head and leg in fighting against the Vichy French. Once sufficiently recovered, he accepted a commission as an Official War Artist, working from a studio in Heliopolis in Egypt that he shared with Ivor Hele and John Dowie. He produced a number of striking modernist pieces depicting Australian servicemen and women, made all the more convincing by his own experiences of the stress of battle. He left the Army in 1942 and returned to teaching and the practice of sculpture. His pre-war works and military experience made him the logical candidate for many memorial commissions after the end of hostilities.

As the cradle of Australia's heavy industry, Newcastle has always had a no-nonsense approach to life. It was therefore something of a surprise that the city chose to make its primary World War Two memorial in the form of a new cultural centre, which would combine a library, art gallery and conservatorium of music. The project was to be completed with the commissioning of a major sculpture to stand in the foyer of the new building. Tom Bass, Daphne Mayo, Paul Beadle, Wendy Solling and Lyndon Dadswell were invited to submit designs, with a payment of 25 guineas offered for their initial concepts. The latter three rose to the challenge and Lyndon Dadswell was declared the successful entrant in 1954. His work featured two figures, a young man and woman, who stand with faces raised as they look to an inscription on the wall above the entrance "'In minds ennobled here, the noble dead shall live'. Once the maquette was approved Dadswell set to work on the plaster, which would initially be electroplated with copper before being cast in bronze. The final work was cast in Melbourne at a cost of £2,350 and finished by the artist once it had been transported to Newcastle. Novocastrians have grown particularly fond of the work over the years and, in their usual plain-speaking way, refer to the piece simply as 'Him'n her'.