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What the tree saw: David Foster
, 2018

by 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, Canberra
Commissioned with funds provided by the Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation 2018
Accession number: 2018.61