In the Studio with Christian Dimick

Tell us about your current studio space. How does it affect the work you’re making?

Currently I am in a studio space in the Wellington CBD that is shared with my partner Ruby Wilkinson and friend Trantham Gordon, who are both incredibly talented artists. Sharing a space with other artists is continuously invigorating. Entering the space at the beginning of the day and seeing their progress and diligence makes me excited. My studio is small. Currently I have been making a lot of small to mid-scale paintings for Parlour Projects' Cultivate programme; my studio size has been perfectly adequate for this, however making bigger works this year will be an exciting challenge. 

What’s the first thing you tend to do when you enter your studio for the day? Do you have a creative exercise or process that helps you begin your work?

Reading is normally the first thing I do, whether that be fiction, biographies or just the dictionary. I like to get my internal dialogue going before I start painting and reading always helps with this.

Can you identify a pivotal place or experience that you feel has had a particular influence over the current direction of your work?

I think a pivotal experience for me was a piece of advice I received in my last year at university. Throughout university I was trying to make work that was held together with various conceptual underpinnings, but in my last year my lecturer Simon Morris gave me reassurance that sometimes it's ok to simply follow the work and allow its content to come into formation through the act of painting. I think I really needed that advice; it has opened up the formal and conceptual content of my paintings.

When you have a day away from the studio where do you like to go?

I love the beach and grew up surfing with my Dad most weekends. This love for the sea has carried on into my adulthood so whenever I have downtime I normally go surfing, or just lying on the beach with Ruby if the surf is flat.
 Pariwhero aka Red Rocks is a particularly special place where Ruby and I love to go walking; it’s a place that reminds you how small you are, which we like. 

If you could collaborate with any artist within history who would it be and what project would you work on together?

According to my Grandma my Mum used to arrange bowls and vases of flowers all around our house and had a real talent for it. She passed away when I was really young but if she was still around I’d like to do some paintings of her flower arrangements. 

What drives you to devote your life and career to making art?

I think painting heightens my awareness of all that's happening within my life and allows me to break down ideas that can be too overwhelming or complex to talk about. I feel that painting has become compulsive for me, to remember minute details or situations in my world. I’m afraid of forgetting all of the little details and the language of abstraction in painting is the perfect way for me to document these. The impossibility of changing or correcting the past and the impossibility of reversing an action made within a painting - these two things interest me very much.

What’s the best arts-related advice you’ve been given?

Sometimes it is best to simply follow the work, and its content may come to fruition through the act of making.

What projects are you currently working towards?

I have recently completed ten paintings for the Parlour Projects' Cultivate programme. It was interesting for me to commit to a singular scale of painting (450mm x 350mm). My paintings normally vary in scale a lot in the studio, but by focusing solely on one scale, I began to develop a particular way of applying and removing paint, with a particular focus on the edges of the paintings.

My next step is to work towards an online solo exhibition with Parlour Projects, which I am really excited about. 
I’ve been saving a lot of discarded rags and canvas that I clean my brushes with; these are providing me with a lot of inspiration for new paintings. I'm intrigued by their abandonment in the studio and their tentative quality of gesture.

If you could place any piece of artwork from history within your home what would it be and where would you place it?

I think it would have to be Julian Dashper's photograph Untitled (Simone) (1987). I’d put it on the wall in our bedroom. It would be a good reminder that there's always something intriguing happening somewhere, and whatever that thing is, there’s probably more than meets the eye.

What are the main themes you seek to explore within your practice?

I think memory, intimacy and abstraction play a large role in the content of my work. When working on a painting, I usually centre myself on a person, place or time and begin to orbit around it. The painting tends to be finished when I feel I have painted myself out of the work and it begins to speak in its own terms. The works I am making currently feel somewhat autobiographical but I aim to make them open enough through abstraction, so that the viewer can find their own way into work and form their own connection to it.

In the Studio with Christian Dimick