27 Feb 2010

Viral Junkies

Overheard conversation on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Woman, 50+ on her mobile phone, oblivious;

"Hey hen, 'am gonna git rid o' this phone, ken? Aah had seven messages askin' if ah'd kenned where oor Billy wez? Someone wez stabbed and shot ootside Jock's Lodge... Aye! Ah was watchin' 'Dancin' on Ice!' Summut o'er cocaine... cowards... got nae balls... think they're gangsters... the wee shites. They're takin' plant food, it makes 'em go raj. Aye, plant food, they call it methlydome... methanome... summut like methadone, ken? The junkies an' the halfwits... shud put 'em on an island; all the bams together, aye! Wha' hen? Aa'm goin in a tunnel"

At the Saltmarket the word on the street is 'anthrax'. A tally of ten users have died tortuous deaths in Scotland from injecting heroin laced with the deadly bacteria. Dealers in homeless hostels and on the street are knowingly pushing the infected drug on their prey. Terrified addicts are turning to, and being turned away from, the methadone clinics. Some are choosing, in desperation, to break the law, knowing they'd be guaranteed the substitute in prison - "on the island..."

Music on the streets and in the schemes of Glesga is spread virally by lo-fi not wi-fi.  Phone-to-phone via Bluetooth is how the sounds are shared. The tune doing the rounds is Forehill Boys MC Kaii's 'Anti Screw Crew.' What would the woman on the train say? "All the bams together, aye!"

20 Feb 2010

View from an anti-fascist march, Edinburgh

17 Feb 2010

biopic 02 chapter 6

As the Pyramids of the M8 disappear from view I can't help thinking what lies ahead. The last time we met, Barrie had taken the wagon on one of his joy rides. It's cut and dry; he knows he has no option but to jack-in the booze. I don't condemn or judge him for his lapses - they're temporary. I'm not his social, case or care-worker, but naturally I care. Last orders have been rung but he's not ready to throw in the towel, not just yet and not without support. The best I can do is listen.

 Barrie was edgy and frayed - news of a friend diagnosed as terminally ill was compounded by the recent death of another from anthrax. I weighed-up the situation and decided to cut the session short.
  Barrie can't break the cycle alone - although he is giving it his best shot. When the wagon breaks down you need the assistance of an expert recovery service - something I can't provide. In the Saltmarket, only 50 yards from the Big Issue office, stands an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting house. I introduced Barrie to some familiar faces and accompanied him to an open meeting. 30 minutes in and he needed out; the speaker's story resonated too deeply.

You can lead a horse to water...

14 Feb 2010

Professional Photographer blog review

A Unique Blogging Voice

'We are not great fans of blogs here at PP. Too many of them start off with vigour and humour and end up as just a list of latest shoots. This can definitely not be said of our favourite blog of the moment compiled by Edinburgh based photographer Gavin Evans. Always a strong and independent voice, he uses his blog to rail against the world of commercial photography, promote the concepts of free thinking and dissect and illustrate his own personal photographic vision. His approach is not for the faint hearted but his passion and commitment to his cause make it an unmissable read. Be careful you might just get hooked!'

8 Feb 2010

biopic 02 chapter 5

 Barrie kept the appointment; determined not to let me or himself down. He entered the studio like a crash survivor stumbling from a wreckage. Barrie thought he could be drunk at the wheel of the wagon. He believed that he could pull the wool over my eyes, but his eyelids gave him away - they weighed down like a Buckie Monk's foot pressing on a grape.

 I've seen him drunk and rattled but never somnambulating shit-faced. It was painful to watch as he performed the hula - without the hoop. Conversation is in Desperanto, the Wegian vernacular slowed to a monotone slur.
 His boozin' buddies are his worst enemies, they'll fight to the bitter end to keep the marriage going. The only way he can move forward is to divorce himself from them and the culture. It is going to be tough; his brides are pernicious bunny boilers fueled by their faith in the spirit. 

 The lens was an empty optic and the only way to fill the stupoured voids was to play music. The soundtrack to Barrie's life is Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon.' I didn't have the LP on my iPod but I did have 'Comfortably Numb.' Barrie skipped with anticipation as I scrolled down the playlist. He held himself close and swayed like a father caressing his child. Word perfect he whispered the lyrics as if the song were a lullaby to an orphaned youth.

Once again I asked Barrie to take my hand and put it in the frame. This time, for the first time, he took my hand... he touched. I was under no delusion, we hadn't made a breakthrough. This wasn't the moment when we'd crossed the barrier - the drink had deceived him into dropping his guard.

1 Feb 2010

bird 01


"I'll be 45 Christmas. I was born in Texas, Irish decent, brown hair, blue eyes, 195 lbs. I've been incarcerated 16 years, the last 8 on death row. 
With each year I seem to be losing parts of me I need the most. In the beginning the loss didn't seem so much, I felt like I was able to adapt rather than change, now I'm changing. My sense of humor and easy going ways are being replaced with a cold and hardened heart. Maybe it's inevitable or maybe I just need someone to help me keep a grip. I'm reaching out hoping to find someone willing to reach in. I'm not seeking romance nor a fair weather friend, I need someone solid."

In Search Of: Females

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.















24 Dec 2009


Wisdom from The Bard:
'Address to the Toothache'

My curse upon your venom'd stang.
That shoots my tortur'd gums alang,
An thro my lug gies monie a twang,
Wi gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi bitter pang,
Like racking engines!

A' down my beard the slavers trickle,

I throw the wee stools o'er the mickle.
While round the fire the giglets keckle,
To see me loup.
An raving mad, I wish a heckle
Were i' their doup!

When fevers burn, or ague freezes, 

Rheumatics gnaw, or colic squeezes,
Our neebors sympathise to ease us,
Wi pitying moan;
But thee! - thou hell o a' diseases -
They mock our groan!


Of a' the numerous human dools -
Ill-hairsts, daft bargains, cutty-stools,
Or worthy frien's laid i' the mools, 

Sad sight to see!
The tricks o knaves, or fash o fools -
Thou bear'st the gree!


Whare'er that place be priests ca' Hell,
Whare a' the tones o misery yell,An ranked plagues their numbers tell,In dreadfu raw,
Thou, Toothache, surely bear'st the bell,
Amang them a'!

O thou grim, mischief-making chiel,
That gars the notes o discord squeel,
Till human kind aft dance a reel
In gore, a shoe-thick,Gie a' the faes o Scotland's weal
A towmond's toothache! 

My teeth grieve for these tombstones. Beauty, youth and esteem are cannibalised by the toothless gurn. These cankered pusses can only savour the memory of a steak or apple. Balanced meals are off the menu for those who can't chew. Life sucks.

Q: What's got fifty legs and two teeth? A: The queue for a 'script.'

The punchline (25 people queuing for a methadone pre'script'ion) hits below the belt- it's the sugar that makes the acidic medicine and the gumline go down. 
 Dereliction of dental care is the catalyst for a spectrum of remediable and chronic illnesses. The symptoms of neglect are rooted in poverty, diet and phobia - in parts of Glasgow men are condemned to a life expectancy of just 54 years. Teeth are a crude litmus test; when the paper turns red society is at risk.
 So many of The Big Issue vendors I meet endure the torment of wracked mouths, gum gouging and bodged extractions. Vendors in Glasgow universally complain that access to free care is fraught with pit-falls - there's always a loop-hole ready to ensnare them.


  The counter-point to this rueful passage came when a vendor told me of a clinic providing free dental care buried somewhere in the catacombs of Edinburgh's Cowgate. Working from a surgery at the back of a converted chapel were a pair of Santos Dentistas. Dental surgeons Adam and Ania man the post at the Edinburgh Access Practice two days a week and provide free dental care to anyone unfortunate enough to qualify for their services. Both apportion their days between victims of the poverty trap and patients with blood-born viruses. Ania also works one day at a psychiatric hospital carrying the torch for Mary Seacole. Against implausible odds they are heroically plugging a septic health service. "If you're on benefits then you're entitled to free dental care" they conceded. And there was the rub; to qualify for benefits you need an address - a home!

 Neither break the rules, they'll treat anyone who needs their care out of hours.


You'll find Santa on Christmas Day working at the emergency dental clinic- ask for Ania.

Kamikaze has had another visitation from the "tattoo spirit". A sacred patch of virginal terrain on his ink-etched torso had been consecrated by another of my images. His chromium skirl, framed by the motto 'C'est la Fuckin' Vie', roars out from the encroaching crevice like a chrome Leo the MGM lion.