28 Jan 2010

biopic 02 chapter 4

Barrie strode into into the studio with unerring accuracy and announced he was feeling "brand new." He hadn't taken anything and he wasn't reborn. Sure, he was reading from the script, but his words weren't slurred. He'd been distributing the Big Issue since 5am and was fired-up, for once he hadn't doused the flame at dawn. Barrie was alight; articulate, focused and funny - Barrie was sober.

"Jus' wan can," he proclaimed, as proud as Punch, "all weekend, jus' wan can!" Barrie had started reducing his alcohol intake a couple of months before the diagnosis. Since our last session he had faced the challenge head-on and squared-up to sobriety.

We made certain of the occasion, only too aware that this could be one of those fleeting moments - a glitch on the timeline.
  On our last encounter Barrie revealed the catalyst that spurred him to try heroin. Inspiration came when watching Trainspotting. The image of Ewan McGregor; enveloped, comforted and protected by the carpet, was so seductive he needed to experience it for himself. The next day he bought the kit, shot-up, OD'd and woke in A&E. Unperturbed, he re-calculated the dose and spent the next ten years between penal and pavement purgatory. He has been clean for two years now - alcohol wont be so easy to kick.

Barrie recalling that moment.

At the end of the session we took another touch. No change - cell mates not soul mates.

25 Jan 2010

Hung Parliament?

Hung Parliament?

Calder Road, Edinburgh

Is tha' a doughnut, or a meringue?
No, it's a Cameroon, wi nae filling.

22 Jan 2010

biopic 02 chapter 3

 Barrie was still reeling from the news. Putting the bomb back in it's shell will test his mettle to breaking point. He has formulated a plan, of sorts, beginning with the exorcising of his chemical demons. Reprieve from his sentence would take more than Dutch courage.

 In the sanctity of the studio he could reflect and offload. Barrie's history is scored into his face and scarred into his psyche. He can't disguise or escape from his past. Peeling back the layers was like heaving tarpaulin - beneath each baneful story lay a darker episode.

  It comes as no surprise to discover that Barrie is from a secure and loving home - originally from Hamilton where he can no longer show his face without the authorities being alerted. As a kid with a penchant for Cosworths and XR's, Barrie took great joy in testing cars to their limits; without the owners permission. Now he reminisces at the steering wheel of his XBox whilst coming to terms with his new mode of transport - the wagon.

21 Jan 2010

biopic 02 chapter 2

 We arranged to meet at 1pm; enough time for Barrie to get into town after a routine health check. This was to be our first venture together in the studio and already it seemed like our inaugural session was on the rocks. His call to reassure me he'd "be there" was barely coherent over the panic. 
 I met him on the steps of the studio, twisting in disbelief. A borderline condition had breached the safety barrier and he was awash with fear. Barrie was drowning. He couldn't confide in his pals and the prospect of breaking the news to his partner - his life-line, terrified him. Barrie scrubbed at his face in a desperate search for answers. An innocent man wrongly condemned; he couldn't put the sentence into words. 
 After spinning all the positives out of the air the stranglehold of uncertainty loosened enough for Barrie to breathe. It was getting late, we hadn't started shooting and with an hour left left on the clock I suggested we called it a day. Barrie was devastated by the idea, he needed to take control and refused to be put on hold. He asserted, insisted and before he could plead I plugged in the flash. 
 I couldn't deny him his moment.

Chapter #1 of the new Biopic put to bed - restless nights...

19 Jan 2010

Studio for Hire

Barrie had committed himself to the project; body and soul. I'd set him up and wasn't going to let him down. With purpose in my stroll I set-off in search of a studio to hire.


Daniel and his brother Mircea were fishing from opposite banks of Sauchiehall Street. Baited with copies of The Big Issue they reeled in the public. Mircea wouldn't let me go till he got his hug - his grip was so tight I thought he'd squeeze a diamond. 


I'd struck gold on my first outing - maybe rubbing a Roma had brought me luck? Skyline Studios, only five minutes walk from Barrie's pitch, is a neatly worked out space - ideal for portraiture. Skyline is photographer John G.Moore's baby. John is busy promoting 'Spirit,' a book of contemplative photographic studies of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, with proceeds from the book going to charity. John knew of Barrie, liked the project and offered the space free of charge - he's a generous spirit, so he is. 

John (G.Moore)

15 Jan 2010

biopic 02 chapter 1

Barrie Greenan- biopic #2
For the past 3 months I've been seeing Barrie around. We met on my first incursion on the world of Glasgow's Big Issue vendors. He instructed me to place my hand at arms length and, like an inmate on lock-down, withdrew to the confines of his comfort zone. 
 Barrie is one of the founding vendors and has been selling the magazine from the outset. His reckless sincerity and infusive resolve inspired the public to nominate him for Vendor of the Year. On the night of the awards I reveled in Barrie's abandoned display of pride and joy. In that instant I knew I was looking at the subject of my next Biopic.

It has been seven years since the publication of Biopic. Iggy Pop set a precedence and established the template for a series of photo essays. Without the support of a publisher my intention to produce a sequel had been put on hold - till now. In a rare moment of clarity it dawned on me that I could circumnavigate this obstacle and publish the series over the internet. More importantly, I'd found someone who had inspired me to restart the process.

With apprehension I handed Barrie a copy of Biopic and asked him to carefully consider my proposition. Was he prepared to submit himself to potentially painful public scrutiny? Why? He needed no time to deliberate; I hadn't accounted for the impact my request would have on his self-esteem. Recognition was reward enough, he wasn't just being photographed - he was being acknowledged.

I told him to sleep on it.

8 Jan 2010


Javier De Frutos © Gavin Evans
 At the peak of the suicide season the dance world martyred it's integrity. In October '09 The Sadler's Wells commissioned 4 acclaimed choreographers to give 'their own original response to the famous challenge that Diaghilev once issued to Jean Cocteau: “Surprise me!”' Javier De Frutos (above) rose magnificently to the challenge and boy did he deliver. True to 'The Spirit of Diaghilev', Javier's homage to Cocteau; 'Eternal Damnation to Sancho and Sanchez' divided the dance world. Critics and audiences were vocal in their unbridled praise and indignant outrage. The moral right obsessed on a scene where a fictional Pope (Roberto 1st) rapes a choir boy- a scene derived from Cocteau's musings. Javier's choreography is renowned for his provocative sensuality, dark humour and visceral beauty- every movement has reference and purpose. With a raft of predatory Bishops resigning from the church the timing seemed perfectly tuned! Javier was given no option other than resign his post of 'associate artist' at Sadler's. Had the dance theatre submitted to the patrons' demands and sided with the ballet hooligans?
 The extraordinary rendition of his reputation continued when his, now scandalized ballet was cut from the BBC schedule. The arbiters of public taste and morality had decreed the piece too shocking to broadcast pre-watershed and the dance theatre offered no defense. We were spared the spectacle when, on the 18th of December, the BBC broadcast the show in its censored entirety.
 On the 23rd December Javier was summoned to a meeting at the BBC. It was presumed that the Corporation would be equitable and discuss broadcasting 'Eternal Damnation to Sancho and Sanchez'. Instead, Javier was informed that the BBC would have never have purchased the piece had they known that the set consisted of illustrations of erect penises. Javier respectfully pointed out that these weren't the imaginings of a depraved choreographer; they were reproductions of drawings by Da Vinci and Jean Cocteau!
 Every artist expects the full support of his commissioners, management and contemporaries. Instead of insisting that the show was broadcast in it's entirety, the dance theatre sanctioned the BBC's decision to censor Javier. The press never sought an explanation from Javier or gave him the opportunity to put forward his defense. The perpetrators and supporters of this action should be outed for their collusion in the slandering of Javier's reputation. As for those choreographers who silently watched on as their colleague was publicly berated- they too should be noted for their complicity.
 The public vilification of Javier is a warning to all artists. To stop the pernicious erosion of our rights we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder and be counted. Demand to view the infamous performance- it would be reprehensible if Sadler's were to profit from releasing it on DVD. What about the Freedom of Information act- Javier owns the copyright?

footnote- The BBC broadcast the opinions of BNP leader Nick Griffin without our consent or approval- that's shocking.












1 Jan 2010

Home Truths

  The decision to return to Scotland was taken in the fall of '99 as an epidemic of idolatry was twisting the face of portraiture out of recognition. A coterie of cuckoos had migrated behind the lens; actors, designers, super models, rock stars, and their fledgelings all flocked to get in on the act. The cult of celebrity spawned unchecked ego's that pimped photography and mocked erudition. The contempt and conceit of the Noughties was depicted through their ersatz eyes, portraiture was bankrupt. Probity and subjectivity were carrion for the magpies. My propensity to puncture inflated egos and prize the persona out of the celebrity sealed my fate. I had no choice but to fly the coup, my last editorial commission was in 2005 - below. 

 Ten years on the view from the 5th column is spectacular and the scene is impregnable. This outpost is mired in contradiction - I'm at home and in exile. The captains of Scotland's cultural industry are a tenacious cabala - a decade later and still no phone call, commission, invite...nada. My aspirations to lecture were dashed by the principals of photography, I couldn't impart my experience without an arbitrary degree. Promises of guest lectureships never materialised. 

 Erratic provisions continue to come from south of the border. Collaborations with extraordinary talent pushes boundaries and fuels the journey. Doubt is momentarily gagged by recognition from renowned artists who entrust me with their vision. It's time to take hold of the wheel and charter a new course. A powerful sense of humour will be our protection and Santo Pepto-Bismol will comfort us on our journey. Let the Fujiama Mamas* set the sail as 'Come Hell or High Water'* blares over the Tannoy. Vamos a hoy!

Barry Adamson

2009 was the year of 'Homecoming Scotland' - the promotion of Scottish culture abroad, cynically timed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. For the past three months I've been privy to the plight of some of Scotland's homeless. For the vendors of The Big Issue

All they can do now is hold tight and wait to see if the government honours it's commitment to provide all of Scotland's homeless with shelter come 2012.
'Homecoming' was a painful anathema- a reminder of severed bonds and embargoed kinship. They were unanimous in their contempt for the baneful title and the merits of the celebrations. Homelessness was off the agenda and they were barred from the party. Ex-pats were courted with Golf 'n' Malt served-up with an extravagant display of fiscal pyromania. 2009 wasn't a time for home truths.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.