“I don’t paint pretty pictures. I love beautiful places but I am not interested in replicating what I see. The work is usually derived from landscape intertwined with social issues.” – Lesley Dickman
I posted on my photoblog a series of photos on the Melbourne Central Station concourse mural. This is quite an amazing large scale public art work that is highly decorative as well as having its intrinsic artistic worth. It is by local artist Lesley Dickman who works in Gembrook, Victoria, Australia. Today’s Art Sunday is devoted to this artist.
From 1964 to 1966 Lesley studied graphic art at Swinburne Technical College. She initially put her artistic ambitions aside to raise her family. Later in 1984, she obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Monash University, majoring in painting and then received a Postgraduate Diploma of Art Philosophy, at Latrobe University in 1994.
From the mid-1980s, the artist worked as a theatre set painter for 10 years followed by six years teaching scenic art at Box Hill TAFE. During this time Lesley continued her studio practice exhibiting in solo and group shows. Lesley has continued teaching and runs classes from Three Stories Gallery in Healesville on life drawing and painting, as well as teaching privately from her home studio. She had a 12 months residency at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne 2008 and in Open Studio Guildford Lane Gallery August 2009.
Although the body of her work is painting, Lesley’s relatively new interest in installation has evolved from previous studies in sculpture. Her “Salt and the Dress 1 and 2” installations were exhibited in 2008 and 2009 respectively and the third instalment of the series, was exhibited in June 2011 at galleries including Walker Street Gallery, Dandenong. Lesley’s mother worked as a dressmaker then moved into making costumes for television and theatre. This gave the artist memories of fabrics, patterns and the intricacy of the costume design process. This has clearly influenced the artist’s work (as is visible in the Melbourne Station mural, for example). For Lesley, dress is not only indicative of creative expression, but symbolic of feminine identity and external appearance.
The image above is from the Pathways Series (2006) and is titled: “Metal Man”. It is Pastel on Paper, 250 x 170 cm. This was part of the Solo show, “Pathways” in the Goya Gallery, Docklands, Melbourne 2006. I particularly like this work as it has that element of the “informed landscape” that characterises this artist’s work. The earth tones are a reflection of the harsh Australian landscape, and the title that refers to “metal” immediately brings to my mind rust. The “Metal Man” is contemporary man consuming the land with his voracious appetite, destroying and despoiling it, while he himself is consumed by rust, the destruction having a karmic element to it.
The artist says: “I think my most significant achievement is the fact that I have maintained a love and a passion for art, starting from as far back as kindergarten when I first sloshed my hands into finger painting. That experience has never left me and although practising art is a hard road to travel, I am still inspired and still see the possibilities for invention ahead.”