David McDiarmid

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David McDiarmid (1952–1995) was an artist, designer and political activist, recognised for his prominent and sustained artistic engagement in issues relating to gay male identity and HIV/AIDS.[1][2] He is also known for his involvement in the gay liberation movement of the early 1970s, when he was the first person arrested at a gay rights protest in Australia, as well as his artistic direction of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Melbourne[edit]

Born in Hobart, Tasmania,[3] McDiarmid later moved with his family to Melbourne, where he studied film, art history and illustration at Swinburne College of Technology (now Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology or RMIT) between 1969 and 1970.[4] In the early 1970s McDiarmid joined Melbourne Gay Liberation, later travelling back and forth between Sydney and Melbourne, where he helping to found Sydney Gay Liberation in 1972, he also helped edit and contributed illustrations and articles for their Newsletter [1]. His involvement with Melbourn Gay Liberation included designing an early t-shirt and badge. McDiarmid's involvement with Sydney Gay Liberation, a more radical and protest-driven organisation than the larger gay rights and support group Campaign Against Moral Persecution, or CAMP, led to his involvement in a number of their protests actions. One of these protests, outside the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Headquarters on 11 July 1972, protested the refusal by ABC Management to show a segment on Gay Liberation featuring Dennis Altman as part of the programme This Day Tonight; it was during this peaceful protest that McDiarmid was arrested, the first such arrest at a gay rights protest in Australia.

In 1973 McDiarmid met the artist and jeweller Peter Tully, becoming lovers for the following two years, and remaining friends and collaborators till Tully’s death in 1992.[5]

Sydney[edit]

McDiarmid and Peter Tully moved to Sydney in 1975, joining their Melbourne friend and creative collaborators Linda Jackson, who had moved there with her partner Fran Moore in 1973.[6] This period also saw McDiarmid, Peter Tully and Jackson collaborating with Melbourne fashion designer and retailer Clarence Chai and Sydney-based fashion designer and retailer Jenny Kee.[7] After his move to Sydney with Tully, McDiarmid was soon involved with Kee’s fashion store Flamingo Park in Strand Arcade, hand-painting fabrics for Jackson’s dresses.[8]

McDiarmid’s first one-person show, "Secret Love", was held at Hogarth Gallery, Sydney in 1976. The works included in the exhibition explored gay male life and sexuality, both in and out of the closet. The following year saw McDiarmid visited the United States, where travelled extensively on the east and west coasts between March to October; in particular the gay communities of the Castro in San Francisco and Christopher Street area in Lower Manhattan, New York. Following his return McDiarmid had his second one-person show, an installation called "Australian Dream Lounge" at Hogarth Galleries in December 1977.[9]

The first self-identified exhibition of Australian gay and lesbian artists, "Homosexual and Lesbian Artists", was held over the weekend of the 23–24 July 1978 at Watters Gallery, Sydney, in association with the Fourth National Homosexual Conference held at Paddington Town Hall in August. The exhibition included a series of McDiarmid’s drawings and collage works; he also designed the exhibition poster. Other artists whose work featured in the exhibition included Peter Tully, Sally Colechin and Vivienne Binns.

McDiarmid’s second one-person show ‘’Trade enquiries’’, was held at Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, in 1978, and featured collaged and offset printed works drawing on hyper-masculine images of American gay male visual identity: ‘clones’, lumberjacks and cowboys.[10]

New York[edit]

In June 1979, at the age of twenty-seven, McDiarmid settled in New York.[11] The move to New York coincided with the establishment of the black and Hispanic, gay underground dance club Paradise Garage, which McDiarmid was an early devotee. Paradise Garage also served as an inspiration for a suite of work to which McDiarmid gave the title "Disco Kwilts", produced between 1979 and 1981, which then newly produced available material holographic reflective Mylar sheeting.[12] McDiarmid continued to exhibit in the USA, including solo exhibitions at 'Childs/Dreyfus' in Chicago in 1979 and Club Zero in New York in 1983.

Throughout his time in New York McDiarmid continued to exhibit back in Sydney and supply painted fabrics to Linda Jackson. One of the first Sydney exhibitions that McDiarmid was involved with following his move to New York was the Art Clothes exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) (1980–1981), which also included works by Linda Jackson, Jenny Kee, Peter Tully and others.[13] McDiarmid was again included in a AGNSW group show in 1981 when he was included in their 'Harbour Bridge Show'.

In February 1983 McDiarmid exhibited at the Crafts Council of Australia Gallery in Sydney, the catalogue for which, included the following statement by McDiarmid: “I’m interested in popular culture. My work is in the intersection between folk art, women’s art (needlepoint, patchwork quilts) and contemporary materials, I use loud cheap and vulgar plastics to make ‘pretty Pictures’. (1982, n.p.)”.[14] The following year, 1984, McDiarmid was included in another group exhibition, 'The Leather Show', at the Crafts Council Gallery. In 1985 McDiarmid exhibited as part of the group exhibition 'Gay Mardi Gras Exhibition 1985: The Print Source', along with Peter Tully and Allan Booth.

Sydney[edit]

In 1987 McDiarmid was diagnosed HIV positive and decided to return to Australia. Back in Sydney McDiarmid devoted himself to producing art which raised awareness of the AIDS epidemic and empowered those who were HIV positive. In 1988-89 he was artistic director of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.[15] Later group exhibitions included 'Pink Summers', Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, Australian Film Institute Cinema, Paddington Town Hall, 8-15 February 1990.

External links[edit]

  • The Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives holds correspondence, designs, artists' books, posters, lithographic prints, ephemera, t-shirts, a costume, mixtapes, articles, photographs and books relating to David McDiarmid, including material donated by David McDiarmid, the David McDiarmid Estate and various friends.

References[edit]

  1. ^ “Design and Art Australia Online (DAAO) – David McDiarmid - Biography, Accessed: 17 January 2013
  2. ^ Penny Webb, “Rainbow aphorisms”, The Age, 7 November, 2012 Accessed: 17 January 2013.
  3. ^ - Biographical details – David McDiarmid, British Museum, Accessed: 17 January 2013
  4. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Relational craft and Australian fashionability in the 1970s–80s: Friends, pathways, ideas and aesthetics’, in “craft + design enquiry”, issue 4, 2012
  5. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Relational craft and Australian fashionability in the 1970s–80s: Friends, pathways, ideas and aesthetics’, in “craft + design enquiry”, issue 4, 2012
  6. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Relational craft and Australian fashionability in the 1970s–80s: Friends, pathways, ideas and aesthetics’, in “craft + design enquiry”, issue 4, 2012
  7. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Relational craft and Australian fashionability in the 1970s–80s: Friends, pathways, ideas and aesthetics’, in “craft + design enquiry”, issue 4, 2012
  8. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Relational craft and Australian fashionability in the 1970s–80s: Friends, pathways, ideas and aesthetics’, in “craft + design enquiry”, issue 4, 2012
  9. ^ “Design and Art Australia Online (DAAO) – David McDiarmid - Biography, Accessed: 17 January 2013
  10. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Chapter 16: America and the queer diaspora: the case of artist David McDiarmid’, ‘’ Transnational Ties: Australian lives in the world’’ (Canberra : Published by ANU E Press, 2008)
  11. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Chapter 16: America and the queer diaspora: the case of artist David McDiarmid’, ‘’ Transnational Ties: Australian lives in the world’’ (Canberra : Published by ANU E Press, 2008)
  12. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Relational craft and Australian fashionability in the 1970s–80s: Friends, pathways, ideas and aesthetics’, in “craft + design enquiry”, issue 4, 2012
  13. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Relational craft and Australian fashionability in the 1970s–80s: Friends, pathways, ideas and aesthetics’, in “craft + design enquiry”, issue 4, 2012
  14. ^ Sally Gray, ‘Relational craft and Australian fashionability in the 1970s–80s: Friends, pathways, ideas and aesthetics’, in “craft + design enquiry”, issue 4, 2012
  15. ^ “Biographical details – David McDiarmid, British Museum”