David McDiarmid (1952-1995). Studied film (& design*) at RMIT. Australian artist and outspoken Aids activist. Looked at love, art and life in the age of HIV. By 1994, more than 3380 people had died in Australia from AIDS-related illnesses (SMH 26/11/1994 ARTS p7). The AIDS epidemic was the focus of McDiarmid's creative output.
McDiarmid also collaborated closely with the Australian designer, Linda Jackson. He was art director of the Sydney Mardi Gras workshops from 1988 to 1990 and worked in mixed media, experimenting with new materials and technologies eg holograms and computer graphics.
His designs for the highly effective ACON Safe Sex posters and postcards in 1992 established him as one of Australia's most outstanding activist artists. His art and graphic designs were core to the war against intolerance and prejudice against gays and against people with AIDS. As the death toll from the AIDS epidemic rose, his work became defiant, graphically explicit and humourous. McDiarmid worked to build an identity and to improve the self-esteem of members of the gay community in Sydney, as well as helping many at the same time cope with the crisis of death and dying in the age of HIV. He himself died of AIDS on 25 May 1995.
* Ted Gott, Curator, Museum of Modern Art at Heidi, Victoria is undertaking research into the life and work of David McDiarmid.
Compiled by David McDiarmid