About the artist
Born in Hobart, David McDiarmid lived and worked in Melbourne, Sydney and New York in the 1970s, ‘80s and early ‘90s. In 1972, McDiarmid helped start the Sydney Gay Liberation organisation in Sydney, working on their newsletters, publishing and protesting.
He produced his first key work Secret Love series (1976), of thirty-two collages mapping Sydney’s gay zones and venues, sexual codes and queer iconography. Challenging and provocative, the work was shown at Hogarth Galleries at the time when gay male sex was still a criminal act in New South Wales. He kept exploring camp and gay identity in his work, like the Australian Dream Lounge (1977) installation, and in his New York series Trade Enquiries (1979), Disco Kwilts (1979) and Kiss of Light (1990–91).
On return to Sydney in 1987, shortly after his HIV-positive diagnosis, McDiarmid worked as artistic director at the Sydney Mardi Gras and made posters for these events as well as education posters for the AIDS Council: some of his best-known works. A number of series produced at that time reference the stigma and negative attitudes in the mainstream towards AIDS/HIV-positive community.
His Ren and Stimpy Aphorisms, Gothic Aphorisms, and the best-known, Rainbow Aphorisms tackle both the stigma from the mainstream and the complacency from within the community.