Alan Dimmick's studio archive 1977–2017 (4 stars)

A reflective exhibition exploring highlights of Scottish culture over the last four decades

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Alan Dimmick's studio archive 1977–2017

Images: Left: Work by unknown photographer/studio, (early 20th Century), courtesy private collection. Right: Alan Dimmick, 'Save Tramway', (2003), courtesy and copyright Alan Dimmick

Gazing across the two walls that house more than five hundred photographs by Glasgow photographer Alan Dimmick is akin to skimming through a personal scrap book of a city's entire culture. Witnessed first hand, Dimmick's lens moved through its underground that defined it as its habitués went on to change that city's landscape forever. As Dimmick's archive moves through four decades of gatherings and gigs, art openings, happenings and hang-outs, his studied black and white images capture a world off-guard and in motion, as his subjects pose for all they're worth, recognising the ridiculousness of the situation as they go.

Presented in defiantly slap-dash-but-not-really non-chronological order, here are several generations coming together to party, play, protest and perform both offstage and on as they make spectacles of themselves en route to making a scene. The images come in all shapes and sizes, and are as much about Dimmick being there in the thick of the action as he is just a step outside of it as an active observer.

Shown as part of this year's edition of Stills Gallery's ongoing annual Collection series of archives, and seen in tandem with photographer David Eustace's Works from a private photography collection of prints loaned from his personal collection, Dimmick's archive chimes with other excavations of assorted local scenes.

The rediscovery of photographer Harry Papadopoulos' iconic images of post-punk Scotland shown at Street Level in Glasgow in 2014 as What Presence! was equally vital. Dimmick's presumably ongoing collection arrives too just as Scot-Pop documentary films Lost in France and Big Gold Dream have been released. David Keenan's new novel, This is Memorial Device, meanwhile, reimagines a small-town music scene in an audaciously baroque fashion. As with all of those, there is a sense with Dimmick's work of times and places lost in a collective rites of passage captured in the most fleeting of long-cherished but half-forgotten moments that have now become the stuff of legend.

Stills Gallery, Edinburgh until 9 April.

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