b. 1908-1986

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. Deborah Edwards, Senior Curator of Australian Art, Art Gallery of NSW.


Lyndon Dadswell in his studio. Rob Hillier

Lyndon Dadswell was one of Australia’s most important post war sculptors.

Dadswell undertook his early training in drawing and commercial art at the Julian Ashton Art School (1924-25) in Sydney. During this time Dadswell's interests quickly moved toward sculpture and modelling which resulted in him taking his training at the East Sydney Technical College (ESTC) (1926-29), later known as the National Art School. Here Dadswell soaked up the tutorage of Rayner Hoff, a young but very capable sculptor, fresh from the Royal College of Art in London. Hoff was an avid supporter of the direction British sculpture was taking at the time. He felt the approach produced sculpture which was more modern and had a better chance of reflecting the themes Australian artists were currently preoccupied with. Dadswell Leaves US

This strong connection to British traditions was shared by most Australian sculptors, including Dadswell until around the 1960's. In fact it was this concentration on British sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth that influenced Dadswell and pushed the development of his early work. He also cited sculptor Jacob Epstein and figurative artist Frank Dobson, both British artists, and Swedish sculptor Carl Miles as notable influences. 

The other large influence on Dadswell's work was his time in the Australian Imperial Force; he fought, became seriously injured and was then commissioned as a lieutenant and appointed a war artist after his recovery.

Once he returned to Australia he took up a position teaching sculpture on his old training ground the East Sydney Technical College (1937). This posting lasted four decades and saw him contribute to the development of other successful Australian sculptors Robert Klippel, Ian McKay, Paul Selwood and Ron Robertson-Swann. Dadswell's effect on modernist sculpture in Australia was perhaps most felt during this time.

Dadswell Untitled SteelPost 1950's shows a marked departure from his concern with figurative works into various forms of sculptural abstraction. Leaves US and Untitled Steel (displayed on this page and included in this exhibition) are both excellent examples of this migration towards far more modelled and built up pieces. The works of this period were often welded constructivist assemblages and are considered to be some of his most notable major works.

Over the next two decades Dadswell produced many public art commissions in Australia. Some of these include the Maritime Services Board building, Sydney (1952); Commonwealth Banks in Hobart and Sydney (1954) and Perth (1960); the Newcastle War Memorial Cultural Centre (1957); the R. G. Menzies Library, Australian National University (1964); the Jewish War Memorial, Maccabean Hall, Sydney (1965); and the Campbell Park defence establishment, Canberra ('The Tree of Life', 1977). Dadswell all but stopped producing work in the late 1970's due to failing health. He died on 7 November 1986 at Elizabeth Bay at the age of 78.

His work is represented in the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery of Australia, most State galleries and many regional galleries in New South Wales.










Build a sculpture based on Leaves US. You might like to start with an armature and build up the form with cardboard or paper mache sections.





Compare Leaves US and Untitled Steel – discuss the differences and similarities in technique, form and material.





Research the work of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth or Jacob Epstein.







Build a sculpture based on Leaves US. You might like to start with an armature and build up the form with cardboard or paper mache sections.





Dadswell made the comment below on art practice at the age of 46. Agree or disagree and use examples of other artists to help support your argument. There are so many techniques to master, material to experiment with, a knowledge to gain, that I don’t believe a sculptor could possibly feel fully experienced by forty. Most of your life is spent exploring these avenues and getting ready for your best work.




Visit the link below and observe Dadswell’s work from 1952 Maquette for the Unknown Political Prisoner International Competition. This work was created before both of the works in this exhibition. Analyse and discuss the progression from the earlier work Maquette for the Unknown Political Prisoner International Competition to Untitled Steel.







IMAGES: Portrait: Lyndon Dadswell in his studio. Rob Hillier. Lyndon Dadswell Leaves US c. 1955. welded steel. 81 x 51 x 15 cm. Gift of Lin Bloomfield under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Photo: Clare Lewis. Lyndon Dadswell Untitled Steel c. 1968. stainless steel brass liten. 92 x 53 x 13 cm. Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Small Sculpture Collection Purchase. Photo: Clare Lewis.