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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

What the tree saw: David Foster

2018
Jacqui Stockdale

inkjet print and oil on canvas, mounted with inset axe pendant (frame: 65.0 cm x 48.5 cm)

David Foster OAM (b. 1957) is the most successful competitor in woodchopping history. Foster started cutting wood with his father, George, at the age of ten, and with him won the World Double-Handed Sawing competition eleven years straight. With his brother Peter he continued this tradition for another decade. In due course, his son Stephen took over as his partner and his daughter Janelle became his personal trainer. Over the course of his career Foster has amassed more than 1000 championships including 186 world and 179 national titles. Well known for his charitable and community activities, including repeated participation in the ‘Giving Tree Walk’, the ‘big man’ was Tasmanian of the Year in 1995 and Tasmanian Australian of the Year in 2005. In recent years he has campaigned against family violence and the stigmatisation of people with mental illnesses, and in favour of marriage equality.

Jacqui Stockdale visited David Foster in his home town of Devonport and posed him beneath a tree at the local woodchopping arena. Stockdale recalls him observing that, if the tree could talk, it would tell of the four generations of Fosters who’ve chopped wood there. ‘David is a powerful, large man with a huge presence. I balanced the composition with an enormous tree that bears witness metaphorically to his family history.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds provided by the Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation 2018
© Jacqui Stockdale

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Jacqui Stockdale (age 50 in 2018)

David Foster (age 61 in 2018)

Supported by

Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation (6 portraits supported)

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

David Foster

'What the tree saw'

Portrait story

World champion woodcutter David Foster and artist Jacqui Stockdale.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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