26 Mar 2010

It dawned on me as I heaved my way through the rain and commuters that something was amiss. An ad for a ‘creatives coffee morning’ seemed such an incongruous concept I had to investigate. It was 8am (in the morning) and something didn’t ring true - if there were artists attending, they too must be wired or frayed.
The auspicious location - a restaurant in a converted banking hall, had been commandeered and turned into a make-shift boardroom. The tables, like the breakfasters, were tightly nestled together as speed dating serial-net-workers conspired over croissants and cappuccino. Their cursory glances in my direction hissed ‘impostor,’ I was as welcome as a piece of gum on a Gucci mule. Our suspicions confirmed I beat a retreat, leaving the tryst to connive.
Conclusion: 1. the word ‘creatives’ is a collective noun, 2. a ‘creative’ is not an ‘artist,’ 3. trust your intuition, 4. keep 8am sacrosanct.

 I hightailed it to the West coast to meet Barrie outside the Glasgow Art Fair. I was curious to know what he made of art and the art world - someday he too could be hanging on a wall. The fair had all the fun of a clearance sale at a Scottish Home show – armchair art without the furniture. It was hard to see the wood for the trees, barely enough on view to kindle any enthusiasm ‘fer ert.’ 

Barrie was drawn to street art, excited by images that triggered his sense of nostalgia and moved by themes that pulled at his sympathy strings: isolation, depression... He established early on that he couldn't see the pointillism of photo-realism - the pursuit of surface perfection didn’t sit easy.
 One of the first (of the many) Peter Howson paintings on display reminded Barrie of “skipperin’ homeless.” The appeal of a Tunnock's Teacake was soured when he discovered it was yet another photo-realistic rendition.
 The Magic Art bus, moored in George Square, wasn’t the joy ride it promised. The converted London Routemaster was festooned with Beatles memorabeliart and a painting of Celtic soccer legend Henric Larson performing an over-head kick. Barrie wholeheartedly endorsed the subject matter but the reason for its inclusion went over both our heads. We agreed on one thing: returning his MBE was John Lennon's finest moment - rock'n'roll.

Richard Demarco

The highlight of the day came at the D.E.A.F (Demarco European Art Foundation) exhibit. Professor Richard Demarco CBE, OBE, HRSA, FRIAS, RSW, HRWS (his business card credentials); co-founder of the Travis Theatre, artist and maverick impresario, took an instant shine to Barrie- much to his bemusement.


Demarco marshaled Barrie to a print of the German artist Joseph Beuys at work in Barlinnie Prison. He then proceeded to enlightened Barrie on the history of Beuys (Demarco’s protégé) and the artists work with prisoners, before asking him straight out if he’d been inside Barlinnie Prison! His blissfully unabashed blurt was met with magnanimous refrain - Barrie bit his toungue. First impressions count in a society that makes arbitrary judgments based on face value.* Defaced and devalued by a delinquent, Barrie is vilified and condemned to masquerade as a criminal. On the outside rehabilitation's a two-way-street.

From nowhere Demarco proclaimed Barrie to be an ‘artist’ - another protégé? Seizing the moment Barrie got out his Big Issues while Richard took the photo opportunity to purchase a copy from the artist – performance art?

I left Barrie At Queen Street Station as he pitched-up to make an honest living.

* the divisive nature of photography is complicit in reinforcing this prejudice.

23 Mar 2010

biopic 02 chapter 8

 Barrie wears his heart on his sleeve and conceals a painful secret beneath the cuffs. His arms and wrists bear the scars of a life lived on a knife-edge. Lacerations intersect his skin like wires on a telegraph pole - sending out SOS’s in all directions. The legacy of lesions are testament to his remarkable resolve, but society sees it differently - so he covers up.

 Deliberate self-harm remains one of the most misunderstood and maligned mechanisms for coping. Self-injury, like anorexia and bulimia, is a social taboo; shrouded in secrecy and held in contempt. Issues surrounding alcohol and drug abuse, the acceptable face of self-harm, aren’t accompanied by nefarious overtones. Society cruelly scalds and disenfranchises those who inflict hurt on themselves. Some take the view that the condition is one of selfish or nihilistic attention seeking. Others deride their actions as feeble or pathetic. Cutting and burning gives the self-harmer a momentary sense of self-determination and control of their life. Self-harming is a symptom of a desperately low self-esteem – sufferers seek only our compassion and support. 

 Barrie’s self-harming peaked while serving time for joy-riding - his crime of passion. After ‘lights out’ was when Barrie would release the pressure. His self-esteem was so low, and his rage so great, that he protected the other inmates by turning the blade on himself.
 Barrie has kicked his addiction to crime and heroin - straight for 7 years, clean for three. Now he’s digging deep in his battle against alcoholism. Barrie ended self-harming seven years ago but has never permitted himself to celebrate or take strength from his prodigious achievement- cutting free.

19 Mar 2010

Bristol Old Vic

Tonight's BBC's Newsnight Review panel gave Tom Morris's reworking of Romeo and Juliet an enthusiastic critique. The play, titled 'Juliet and Her Romeo,' is Tom’s first production since taking stewardship of The Bristol Old Vic. The cash-strapped theatre had an all-in budget of £1000 for publicity shots which included; my fee, travel/ hire costs, and licensing/ reproduction rights. Their press and marketing departments exploited the images to full effect.

My photographs are being used in: the press, on-line, on tv, iPlayer, for marketing, front-of-house posters, catalogues, programmes, flyers, posters, ad boards and billboard ads.

15 Mar 2010

On the Saltmarket you've got to side-step the soused alchies and gouchin gangrels as they dance the sidewalk tango. Half-way along there's a wet and a dry filling station - their first stop when re-fueling.

Mark sits like an endangered species stuffed in a display case for it’s own protection - as the CCTV tapes testify. For many of his customers Mark is their first port of call before embarking for oblivion. His box is a toll booth - hard cash is fed through the hatch and hard liquor is dispensed for the journey.


Fortified wine, lager, spirits and heavy flow from behind the barricade while undisturbed bottles of tomorrow’s vintage plonk gather dust in a glass cabinet. Mark has been confined for eight years but it's not a sentence, he loves the view of life from his watch-tower.


George’s general store keeps the Saltmarket troops fed and fragrant. He provides the locals with their basic provisions - fags, mags and messages. George is the king of his emporium and a lynchpin of the community. He needs no perspex for his protection but every corner is covered by CCTV. Everyone get his personal touch - a gallus mix of Glesga charm and guile.

14 Mar 2010

An example of when the virtual world infiltrates the real - the unexpected and unintended consequences of social media;

email 1

  Hi Gavin my name's Gemma, I'm Barrie’s niece. I would really like to meet up with him, I haven't had any contact in about 3-4 years. If I was to go down to Argyle St would I be likely to see him? I'm happy to see someone is doing something to help him,* he’s a good guy. Reading you're blog has really touched me. I would appreciate it if you could find the time to get back to me as to where I could find him.
Thanks Gemma :)

email 2
  Hi Gavin, just to let you know I met up with my uncle Barrie earlier today, he’s looking great, I really enjoyed spending time with him, I’ve realised how much I’ve missed him. I'm meeting him again through the week or weekend, I’m glad to back in touch with him, thank you.

Correspondence reproduced with the express permission of Gemma – (Biopic) Barrie’s niece:
* Barrie is helping himself

10 Mar 2010

Barrie in Print

'Gavin Evans has immortalised icons... the acclaimed photographer... the result of the pair's time together, during which Barrie has been fighting an alcohol problem, is a unique collection of raw and compelling images...'

The Big Issue Magazine 8-14th March, 2010

The Big Issue Magazine has flagged-up the Barrie sessions but makes no mention of biopic and the iPhone app. Still, it's a start!

9 Mar 2010

Pierrot Bidon

Pierrot Bidon 01/01/1954 to 09/03/2010

I received a text message notifying me that Pierrot Bidon had taken his final curtain call. He was just 56.

My introduction to Pierrot took place in '88,  somewhere on the outskirts of Copenhagen. A Bouinax (metal clown), like a legionnaire delivering the damned messenger, led me  across a strip of wasteland to his HQ. Pierrot’s place; a traditional roulotte Gitane, was a cave on wheels. I perched on a milking-stool like Hopper listening to Brando's brand of wisdom. Through the dark I could make out his ghecko eyes and re-tread toes.

The whiskey I brought as an offering brought us closer - quicker. He poured out his story as we sank the bottle, a bidon... Pierrot’s formative years were spent acquiring his skills on the streets of Le Mans before running away with the circus. For 10 years he travelled and performed the tight-rope with a horse troupe, before breaking with tradition and creating the now legendary Circus Archaos. Archaos broke all the rules, Pierrot did the unthinkable - he made circus contemporary and cool.


Since the disbanding of Archaos in 1991 Pierrot went on to influence the circus world further by establishing Circo da Madrugada, Circus Baobab, The Circus of Horrors and La Grume.
 Pierrot was more than an impresario and ringmaster, he was the father of modern circus and a father-figure to his performers and crew. Like a contortionist he bent backwards to organise my shoots and find me 4star accommodation; usually a damp sleeping bag in a wet caravan! Pierrot was a fixer par excellence!

Ana and Pierrot                                                                   Ana and Pedro

Pierrot leaves behind his wife Ana, his two sons; Pedro and Antonio and his wonderful legacy. Circus Oz, Cirque De Soleil, the residents of Las Vegas et al, owe a great debt of gratitude to Pierrot's innovation and trailblazing.

Vive les Clowns!

8 Mar 2010


There’s a new manager at the helm of The Big Issue distribution office. Dougie is charged with boosting revenue and morale. He is enthusiatic and keen to glean any info I might have picked-up along the way. After half an hour of reeling out my observations Dougie was reeling from information overload.


Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of an urchin burying herself into a Romani. My efforts to coax her from his shadow only made her withdraw deeper into his coat-tails. With her brother’s reassurance she stepped into the open. I had to kneel to catch her name as she whispered “Gabriella”. Just turned sixteen, Gabriella was ready to learn the ropes and follow in the steps of her family vending the Big Issue. With pride she lifted her head and, my hand.


I accompanied Andy to his pitch at Glasgow’s Queen Street Station. Andy’s story is a sobering reminder of how vulnerable we all are to becoming homeless. A car crash had left him and his girlfriend unable to work due to the injuries they sustained. They couldn’t pay the mortgage... The money he raises goes towards the renewal of his professional driving license, not board. Tonight he’s skippering – sleeping rough.


Ivaylo stands outside Buchanan Galleries like a municipal sculpture on it’s pavement plinth. He’s 69, from Bulgaria, warm natured and shivering. In his wonderful, thick Slavo-Scottish accent, he tells me he’s been in here for eight years and he truly ‘loves’ the Scots. Eight years skippering - I cant help feeling that he’s pitched his love on a one-way street.

5 Mar 2010

biopic 02 chapter 7

Barrie turned up with a new cut, a benign cut - a hair cut. The scars on his head were now sharply revealed. "The two on the top were when I went through a windshield, the other was from a paving slab," the consequences of joyriding and betrayal.

It had been another one of those somber weeks that seem to shadow Barrie: his terminally ill friend passed away sooner than expected and yet another died from gambling - Anthrax Roulette. I'm amazed that his spirit hasn't been ground away by the constant knocks. Barrie assured me that (somehow) he's been attending AA and keeping a grip on the wheel, and reality.

We finished with another touch shot. This time he took my hand and pushed it to his outer limits. There was the merest of contact, but contact nevertheless. The previous touch was just an alcoholic aberration. He couldn't remember me taking the shot and was affronted to learn that he'd shaken my hand. “Oh aye, ah’d had a drink” were his mitigating circumstances.

You can’t kid a kidder, kidda.

2 Mar 2010

bird 02

"My eyes are blue, my hair is brown and wavy. Currently, I possess all of my teeth. I shower regularly and am without fleas or ticks - always a plus. I’ve always been vaccinated and am housebroken. Hard to believe but true. Easy going and slow to anger, that’s me."

In Search Of: Females