The Collection Series is a truly wonderful exploration and depiction of flawed but genuine human character. There are scenes of beach holidays, parents pushing prams; old friends getting drunk together and off guard moments of affection between loved ones.
Alan Dimmick, while originally self-taught, later went to technical college to improve his photographic skills. This exhibition goes to show how in love he is with the art and craft of photography. He even took photos of people walking through the gallery during the installation of this exhibition. This adoration for his work radiates through each black and white photo that he has lovingly hand printed.
Well known for capturing moments of the Glasgow music scene and art previews, Dimmick is adept to being a watcher without intruding. 567 photographs are sprawled across two walls on a grey backdrop – ranging from the beginning of his career to his current work. Therefore, the viewer is not given a completed narrative, but rather fragments and glimpses into different people that Dimmick has come across. Nonetheless, this chaotic excess of visual information merged into a single display is thoroughly affective. The final product transforms into its own story of Dimmick’s investigation into human behaviour, under the drastic social and political changes within Scotland over the past few decades.
Especially look out for No. 431 – ‘Alasdair and Daniel, Kames Bay, Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, 1996’ and No. 287 – ‘Ross’ Dairy Building, Crow Rd, Broomhill, Glasgow, c.1977’ The first depicts two young boys cheekily glancing at one another, whilst they are half buried in the sand on a beach. The latter is the only print in existence of this image, as the negative has been lost or destroyed. Yet to the dismay of the gallery curators and assistants, Dimmick happily and haphazardly nailed this worn, old photograph into the wall. The image is particularly poignant, considering it depicts the destruction of a well-known Italian ice cream parlour in 1970s Glasgow and the building appears to be falling in on itself as if it’s smiling back at the viewer.
The only negative aspect of this exhibition is that there are not more photos to see. Once leaving the exhibition, delving into the thousands of photos Dimmick has captured over the decades is all you want to do.
After taking in the delights of Dimmick’s work at the back of the gallery you will discover a collection of photographs by well-known photographers, including Annie Leibovitz and Paul Strand. Their work offers a great palate cleanser to Dimmick’s hustle and bustle.
Something has to be said about the struggles this gallery is currently facing, with high running costs meaning it may have to be relocated by the end of the year.As the first photographic gallery set up in Scotland, it is very much worth the visit, whatever is on display.
The Collection Series: Works from a private photography collection & Alan Dimmick’s studio archive, 1977-2017
Stills Gallery, Old Town
Until 9 April 2017
Photo credit: Beth Wood