Child of the Cedar

Tom J. Mourad is a craftsman, sculptor, and artist. His favoured medium is wood, which he shapes into a variety of different functional woodworks, as well as realistic, representational and abstract works of art. His creations range from antique-style furniture, intricately carved Gothic and Victorian columns, horse-drawn carriages, staffs for religious personnel, as well as staircases and balustrades.

Tom, or Toufic, was born in August 1946 on his forefathers’ land of Dweir, a small farm that lies between Tannourine and Haddath El-Joubeh in the northern mountains of Lebanon. Toufic, the son of Jamil Mourad and Latifeh Salameh, and the brother of four, spent his childhood winters in Haddath El-Joubeh and his summers in Dweir, Tannourine playing in the serene mountain surroundings.

In 1954 and at the age of 8, Toufic lost his father. He was sent to a boarding school in Beirut. It was there that Toufic’s interest in woodcarving commenced. Trained as a woodworker and a musician, Toufic became fascinated by the art of woodcarving and sculpting and sought lessons in the field from master of the craft, George El-Tawil. By the age of 20, Toufic had opened his own woodcarving business in Tripoli (North Lebanon) where he created his first individual sculptural designs.

TOm the Woodcarver

In 1969, at the age of 22, Toufic migrated to Australia where he eventually became well known as ‘Tom, the Woodcarver’. At first, Tom found much difficulty adjusting to the new lifestyle. Having to learn a new language and fit into such a diverse culture, it took quite some time before he could successfully utilise his woodcarving skills in the country. Tom opened his own woodcarving business in Balmain, Sydney, where he became acknowledged for his unique eye for detail in antique restoration and reproduction. He worked on numerous sculptures, antique reproductions and furniture pieces that have since been scattered all over the world.

Tom Now

His control and appreciation of wood sculpting has allowed him to branch out into staircase design and production in which he is able to create a utilitarian yet artistic blend of wood and iron.

To keep the public enticed with his unique fusion of contemporary classical to modern abstract expressionist art, Tom has held numerous solo and co-exhibitions in Lebanon and Australia, presenting his sculptures at such places as the University of Sydney’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies and Tannourine, Lebanon. He has also enjoyed being a member with The SculptorsSociety, with whom he has participated in several exhibitions across Sydney. His artistic talent was documented by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC TV) and Channel Ten, whereas a comprehensive investigation of his life and artwork was presented by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC TV). 

In one such interview, Tom was asked whether he has ever chopped timber specifically for the purpose of carving. To this he answered: “I would rather cut off my hands before I cut a tree down!”. As such, all of Tom’s sculptures are carved from dead tree trunks donated by family and friends.

Tom’s art continues to intrigue people of all ages. He aims to one day exhibit his work in a showroom located high in the mountains of Lebanon. Currently, Tom can be found carving his latest masterpiece at his Sydney-based gallery in Canterbury, where all enthusiastic artists and art-admirers alike can visit his fine works of art.

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