John Brady’s talent as a wood and ice sculptor has seen him create public artworks of everything from horses to cricketers.

Story +  Photos Jeanette Severs

John Brady has had The Man from Snowy River, Banjo and Slim in his hands; he’s competed alongside Bradman; and he’s spent time with RM Williams, Henry Lawson and Roger Federer. He’s shaped the dancing stance of an Aboriginal warrior.

John is from Fulham, Vic, and is one of Australia’s best-known chainsaw sculptors. As well as personally knowing the late Slim Dusty, he has depicted him and plenty of others in wood and in ice, such as actor Tom Burlinson chasing brumbies down the side of an alpine mountain. 

But it’s through his moving statuesque tributes to Australia’s defence force personnel and families that John has come to public attention. His longest enduring monuments are in a World War I avenue of honour along the Lakes Entrance esplanade. He carved out of cypress trees Simpson and his donkey with a wounded soldier, a woman and her children waiting, a soldier and a nurse. There’s also a fisherman, in tribute to the region’s history. That was 21 years ago. He still receives commissions for war memorials from all around Australia. 

“I suppose I always liked sculpture and I always wanted to do sculpture,” John says. “I did a few little things with clay but rather than add on, I wanted to be able to cut off. Stone was too difficult. It just turned out that wood was the ideal material and a chainsaw was the ideal tool. And you can do it fairly quickly.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #130

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2020