Dennis Adams

Dennis Adams

Dennis Adams (1914-2001)

Denis Adams was an Australian artist who had a passion for the sea. Born in Sydney in 1914, he grew up in the country – but visits to Sydney led him to the docks and the romance of sail, as he watched the few remaining sailing ships pass Sydney Heads for distant ports. His father was a retired seaman, and his head was full of his tales of life on board the ‘Last of the Windjammers’.

He was studying art at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, but really wanted to head off to London to study at the Royal Academy of Arts. His decisive moment came when he enrolled as crewman on one of Finnish ship owner Gustaf Erikson’s regular fleet of windjammers which loaded grain for Europe on the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia. He finally achieved his goal, as an ‘able-bodied’ passenger, meaning he was willing to work as needed on the voyage – but still paid 6 shillings a day! In 1935, he left for England, to study Art in London – and made good use of his time onboard, sketching & painting the everyday events of life on a sailing ship. Returning in 1939, he joined the war effort: along with other artists, he was part of the ‘camouflage squad, designing military camouflage – and in 1942, was sent to the Pacific as an official war artist. After the war, his artistic career continued, mainly as a maritime artist. He taught art at the East Sydney Technical College.

His art, which came to include bronze sculpture, is represented throughout Australia, with a multitude of public sculpture commissions for various war memorials, including many examples of bronzes & oils in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

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