Interview with Dale CHAPMAN

the ephemera interviews

In this series of interviews artists directly involved in ARIs and artist-run culture 1980- 2000 speak about the social context for their art making and provide insights into the ephemera they produced or collaborated on during this period. Artist ephemera includes artworks, photocopies, photographs, videos, films, audio, mail art, posters, exhibition invites, flyers, buttons and badges, exhibition catalogues, didactics, room sheets, artist publications, analogue to digital resources and artist files.

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BIO

Visual Artist, Educator, Noisemaker

As a youth Dale traveled widely in Australia with his family attending schools in Melbourne and Broome before ending up in Cairns. Days upon days spent staring out the car window, feeling the road’s corrugations, watching the undulating rhythms of fences and powerlines….

 

After working on boats and in bars he moved south to Brisbane. Studying Fine Art at Queensland College of Art in the early eighties Dale lived in Brisbane and was involved in the emerging art scene of inner city artist run spaces and studios. During this time he exhibited visual art and started making sound with friends. He also worked for a short but intensive time in Cairns with artists including John Douglas and Sue Ryan.

 

Arriving in Melbourne in the late eighties Dale continued his art making, working and exhibiting in shared studio environments in Footscray, St.Kilda and Port Melbourne. The art practice included exhibiting and curating shows in both ARI’s and alternative spaces including the exhibition “Local Colour”.

 

After meeting Rod Cooper in 1998 his soundwork started to be even more important and with that Dale started performing with Klunk. His visual art practices continue. This sound practice included building and performing with handmade electronic instruments (tone generators) and circuit bent toys. Most recently in a duo ‘The Drunken Boat’.


 

PA: 

1980’s Queensland/Brisbane Social History: What sort of world was this place for you Dale?

 


 

DC:

I arrived in Brisbane on the Sunlander, fresh from Cairns in early 1982, to study at the Queensland College of Art, which at that time was in Morningside. I didn’t know many people. I holed up in the People’s Palace in Anne Street, an old  Queenslander hotel,  for a week while trying to find somewhere to stay. I left Brisbane in August 1988. During that time I lived in many different houses with many different people.

 

It was an exciting time as an emerging artist. An exceptionally vibrant art scene. Things were happening there that hadn’t occurred before.

 

I loved living in Brisbane. But I’ve only been back twice since then.


 

PA: 

The Bjelke-Petersen Regime, “The Police State”, a unique 1980’s political backdrop how did it directly or indirectly impact upon you or not?

 


 

DC:

My first visit to Brisbane was in 1979. I stayed with a friend for a week before heading south. On my departure the police questioned me asking where I was from, where was I going to? I replied I was heading south. They said that they had seen me arrive, and good, you’re going, don’t come back!

 

The second or third week that I was living in Brisbane, went to a gig, it was either The Screaming Tribesmen or The Riptides, missed the last train and was introduced to the Roma St. watch-house.


 

PA: 

How did this political climate directly impact on your friends and peers if at all?

 


 

DC:

At least I had people to talk to in the watch-house. : )


 

PA: 

The Brisbane watchouses, yes so many untold stories there. Thanks Dale and the type of art work you were making during the 1980’s, media used, subjects and themes?

 


 

DC:

I was painting. Mainly acrylic on paper. Bits of compressed charcoal and the occasional canvas, but yeah, painting, drawing, flat art.


 

PA: 

Kinship: A brief biography?

 


 

DC:

Born in Melbourne. My family moved a bit. Lived in Broome for a time as a youth. Finished secondary school in Cairns. Lived in Brisbane 1982 – 1988.


 

PA: 

Are there other members in your family who are artists?

 


 

DC:

Dad was painting when I was young. I remember a large oil of ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ he had painted hanging around somewhere. Mum was always drawing and painting too.

White chairs !!!! In the early days. I don’t remember food, but I do remember dancing. I remember breaking my leg at a 4ZZZ do. But I don’t remember how. And; Roy Harper at 4ZZZ Joint Effort, Nico at 4ZZZ Joint Effort, Jonathan Richman at Easts and The Residents at Easts supported by the closesthing…
Dale Chapman

 

PA: 

Is there one particularly vivid memory or event from your childhood when you knew you wanted to become an artist?

 


 

DC:

Shane Merry was the father of a childhood friend, Simon. Shane had a studio out the back of their house and to me it was a source of amazement, wonder and possibilities. I used one of his old oil covered palettes, smeared some paint on it and signed my name. It was my first ‘real’ painting.


 

PA: 

And your direct experience of Higher Education at QCA?

 


 

DC:

I was there from 82 -84. I had a ball. Fuck! It was art school! Studio C! I did have a crush on teacher Pat Hoffie and one time I couldn’t speak for days.


 

PA: 

Where did you hang out Dale?

 


 

DC:

White chairs !!!! In the early days. I don’t remember food, but I do remember dancing. I remember breaking my leg at a 4ZZZ do. But I don’t remember how. And; Roy Harper at 4ZZZ Joint Effort, Nico at 4ZZZ Joint Effort, Jonathan Richman at Easts and The Residents at Easts supported by the closesthing.


 

PA: 

Your artist influences at the time?

 


 

DC:

Hmmm.This is difficult. There were so many. Jeanelle Hurst was one. Adam Boyd. Hiram To. That’s three. But there’s also Shane Kneipp, Hollie, Julia Bell, Leanne Ramsay, Donald Holt and the list goes on ….


 

PA: 

2015 marks the 40th year anniversary of the Institute of Modern Art, tell me about the role the IMA played in your own personal experience Dale ?

 


 

DC:

The IMA was an essential part of my art education both as an art student and as an emerging artist. Young Contemporaries , a group show of Brisbane artists curated by Bob Liguard and Peter Cripps  in 1986 was particularly important.


 

PA: 

Tell me about any direct measure of support, patronage and interest from established Brisbane/Qld galleries/institutions you received during this early time in your career? Did it help? How so?

 


 

DC:

Thank you to all the people who bought my paintings and said nice things to me.

remix dale chapman studio 1987
Photo: Dale Chapman- remix dale chapman that studios 1987

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