The Collection Series:
Works from a private photography collection
Alan Dimmick’s studio archive, 1977-2017
The exhibition at the Stills Gallery consists of two contrasting halves.
Alan Dimmicks’ images from his studio archive consists of walls of images, 450 photographs of Glasgow life, taken over the last 40 years. People, places, portraits. The backs of people, birds on the shore, close details and broader sweeps. Some appear threatening, some banal, others amusing or sad.
Moira Jeffries says, in an essay that accompanies the exhibition, ‘an accretion of information…. four decades of social history……an accumulation and contingency……. the stories that haven’t been told, the histories that haven’t yet crystallised.’ (Jeffrey, 2017).
Dimmick said ‘It’s really always been people that have interested me most ‘(Albert Drive,2013) and ‘always have your camera with you [obviously] but also realise that images of quite ordinary things can be important in years to come, and keep your negatives neatly filed’ (Radcliffe,2012)
The overwhelming impression is of a snapshot of life, in all the grubby and fascinating details.
Photographs taken and added with permission of the Stills Gallery, Edinburgh.
The second half of the exhibition is a series of images from the private collection of Scottish photographer Davis Eustace which includes a wide range of photographs from the whole of the 20th century. Images that particularly caught my attention were the Annie Leibovitz portrait of Merce Cunningham, dancer and choreographer, from 1994, a very personal and intense image that contrasted with the Chris Blott image, ‘Farmer’ also from 1994, showing a man looking away to the distance which reminded me of August Sanders portraits of ‘types’ from the People of the 20th century series.
My attention was also caught by three Images of beautiful females by Fabrizio Gianni who said ‘I’ve never been a photographer. I was a fashion photographer. They’re two different things’ (Jamieson, 2015). I considered these in the light of the recent article by Jansen in the British Journal of Photography discussing the different ways of seeing and image making between women taking pictures of women from men’s images of women ‘In the patriarchy in which we live, photography is an expression of power. The photographic act is often viewed as an assertion of masculine dominance’ (Jansen, 2017). Although I agree with Jansen’s premise (and look forward to reading the whole book – Girl on Girl) I found these images wistful and playful rather than orientated for the masculine eye.
Salt Pan by Edward Burtynsky was one of the few colour prints on show. It shows an aerial view of a land that has been affected and changed by industry, the only sudden flash of colour is manmade, the rest grey, dead, alien. Taken in Gujarat, India in 2016 the series is an indictment on man’s treatment of our world. He says ‘(we) come from nature…. There is an importance to (having) a certain reverence for what nature is because we are connected to it…. If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves’ (Edwardburtynksy.com, 2017). Cotton, when describing Burtynsky’s work, says ‘Deadpan photography often acts in this fact-stating mode: the personal politics of the photographers come into play in their selection of subject matter and their anticipation of the viewer’s analysis of it, not in any explicit political statement through text or photographic style.’ (Cotton, 2015). The subtle colouring and detail drew me in and I found myself searching out the remaining images of the series.
Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of Flowers Gallery, London
Overall an interesting pairing, contrasting one man’s style and thought processes of image making with carefully chosen images from a single collector. The two men have contrasting styles of photography, Eustace is renowned for portraits of the stars, but also landscape and fashion while Dimmick concentrates on an area, Glasgow, and the city life in all its facets.
Well worth seeing.
ALBERT DRIVE. (2013). Alan Dimmick. [online] Available at: http://www.albertdrive.com/alandimmick/ [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017].
Cotton, C. (2015). The photograph as contemporary art. ed. London: Thames & Hudson, pp.86-88.
Edwardburtynsky.com. (2017). EDWARD BURTYNSKY. [online] Available at: http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/ [Accessed 11 Apr. 2017].
Jamieson, T. (2015). Fabrizio Gianni: From assisting Sergio Leone to high fashion photography, via Falkirk. [online] HeraldScotland. Available at: http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents/13211174.Fabrizio_Gianni__From_assisting_Sergio_Leone_to_high_fashion_photography__via_Falkirk/ [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].
Jansen, C. (2017). I’ll Be Your Mirror. British Journal of Photography, (May), pp.42 – 55.
Jeffrey, M. (2017). Fixing:The Archive of Alan Jeffrey.
Radcliffe, A. (2012). Photographer Alan Dimmick – interview. [online] The List. Available at: https://www.list.co.uk/article/41017-photographer-alan-dimmick-interview/ [Accessed 10 Apr. 2017].