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.