By Angela Stretch
tangerine, nectarine, river,
the tang of it,
amber, even the buzz of flies.
The prolific and idiosyncratic oeuvre of Lesley Dimmick extends over a period in which Australian art underwent decisive and radical changes in conception and presentation the 1980s and 1990s saw a widening diversity in approach to art.
Dimmick has participated in and stood apart from the major art movements of the day. She persists in a figurative, yet lyrical, approach to art that eschewed pure abstraction but revelled in the possibilities of colour in the Cross – Kings Cross.
In 1989 Dimmick started working as Director of TAP Gallery (Taylor at Palmer – Palmer Street, Darlinghurst or more commonly referred to as Theatre, Art, Performance). She worked as a restauranteur at a nearby eatery before turning art facilitator at a three floor premises in Taylor Square, which acted as a pasta factory for many years prior. Four years later she shifted TAP into the Palmer Street locale somewhat ironically above a now recently vacated showroom for taps and other bathroom fittings.
With her signature red wild hair Dimmick steers her artisan boat with dogmatic passion. Her “open policy, artist-run collective provides a forum for emerging artists to exhibit and promote their work,” without any predetermined judgement of their artistic ability.
Artists everywhere have much to grapple with. Over the past two decades, preoccupations with experimentation, resistance, critique, subversion and utopian desire have communicated inner worlds rich in angst and debate. In more recent times the expansion fo the specifically visual into the realm of ideas and the need to interact with communities, together with the virtual colonisation of art practice through cross mediums and the moving image, have taken contemporary art from the margins to the centre, with all the losses and gains that this entails.
A new society requires a new art, and Dimmick saw the opportunity to forge a positive new link between culture and state. At the TAP Gallery Dimmick has fostered a thriving community that includes poets and artists from all persuasions. The artists in this colony are bound by their art under this common appellation except for their enthusiasm for new possibilities.
Dimmick has sustained her single-minded artistic vision through life-long contacts with persuasive and influential art movements. Her intimate friendships with the poets, artists and celebrity, shaped by her continued resistance to purely intellectualise art has gained her as many friends as critics. This rebelliousness against the definition of, what is art? is a wilful characteristic that runs in the family. Her grandmother was a singer in a Sydney swing band in the 1940s gaining notoriety for being the breadwinner of the family.
Lesley Dimmick & Edwin Duff, TAP Gallery
Its funny how we allot certain people places in our imagination, and then over the years, as each new morsel of information comes in, we ad it to the drawer we have of that person, never perhaps making anything anywhere near a complete picture, but gathering facts her and there that round person out a little. While in hospital as a young five year-old recovering from a minor operation Dimmick’s father gave her her first set of paints. She used them touch of the attention of family and friends. The fact that she was talented couldn’t have mattered less to her. It was simply a part of her like her fingernails and so what?
The people that drop in, loop round and jostle through the TAP of past, present and future are supportive of their community. Dimmick has her circle of regulars that flit around her like a moth to a flame, characters that dwell on the fringes of the Cross. The emotion, the colours, the textures is all there.
It was a sweaty Saturday afternoon when I tripped into the TAP in the twilight hours of a Saturday afternoon when artists were submitting their interpretative representations of the Cross for the fifth annual Cross Art Prize, 2006.
I met some of the stalwarts of club TAP including 78 year old jazz sensation Edwin Duff. Duff whose career spans fro the tender age of 14, has been singing with some of the finest jazz artistes from all points of the globe. His open homosexuality and strong sense of self has potted him in controversy and entrenched him in Sydney’s cultural history. Like many of Dimmick’s friends Duff holds an irresistible inimitability that would be hard to capture in the covers of a book or held dimensionally within a frame and he is quick to share his respect for Dimmick, “I love this woman and what she stands for.”
“It’s commonly understood now, that product is not the point. That it isn’t a question of doing art, it’s a question of making art of what you do and dimmick embraces this belief. Duff is also of that philosophy now on the cusp of launching a new album that incorporates anecdotal experiences in between songs. Energy is something both Duff and Dimmick have been able to sustain.
The TAP Gallery has helped many artists break into the competitive are world and at this time in Dimmick’s life, her trip has more specific purpose of inspiration up for design. Her vision has earned her no money in the impoverished environment but her experiments bear fruit in careers of all those that tap at her door. “Everyday brings something new and I am grateful for being able to live a life I love so much,” she said.
camera: sony cyber shot 3.3 mega pixels
Profile: Lesley Joy Dimmick
TAP Gallery, Level 1/278 Palmer Street Darlinghurst NSW 2010
paragraph three: In 1989 Lesley Dimmick had a studio in Darlinghurst and started working as Director of TAP Gallery in 1990. paragraph eight: Lesley Dimmick’s grandfather gave her a set of paints