12 Apr 2010

biopic 02 chapter 10

The day started with an interview - Scotland on Sunday magazine wanted the full SP on Barrie and the biopic Big Issue project.
 The shoot took place in a vault sandwiched between Skyline’s studios 1 and 2. Barrie is no stranger to claustrophobic spaces; for years he was conditioned to sleep in cells, bins, boxes, bridges...

 I took advantage of the setting to review a 4 thirds digital compact for Professional Photographer magazine.

8 Apr 2010


Malcolm McLaren- one of the most revered and reviled figures in British music and fashion is scamming it upstairs. He'll have something to discuss with my old man - he was too was robbed of life by mesothelioma.

I met Malcolm at the beginning and the end of the 90's. True to form he was the cocksure bastard we all loved and loved to loathe. On our first encounter he wore a cape and brought a crook - the perfect twisted-metaphor.

In ’99 I shot Malcolm for Time Out magazine - he hadn’t lost any of his abrasive charm.

2 Apr 2010

biopic 02 chapter 9

  The trip to the art fair brought things in to sharp focus. Even among the art-going middle-classes Barrie is not immune to derision and antipathy. There’s no disguising the public's fear or suspicion of his altered state. If his disfigurement had been caused by a genetic disorder or defect at birth, society would be bound by political correctness to accept or at least tolerate him. His is a case of identity theft – disenfranchised and relegated to the criminal status of his perpetrator. Barrie would willingly submit himself to the surgeon’s scalpel to gain acceptance.

Make Poverty History G8 Rally Edinburgh, 2005 (photo © Kamikaze)

 In 2005 I commissioned a knitter to knit me a pair of candy pink SAS balaclavas. The War on Terror was being fought on the home front and paranoia was at a peak - no one was above suspicion. I had the idea to employ them in everyday scenarios – parodying the pervasive hysteria of the time.

We associate hooded masks with violence or intimidation – the same way society views Barrie’s disfigured veneer. Beneath the balaclava could breathe a terrorist or freedom fighter, foe or amigo.

Barrie is a luchador who can’t jump the ring and hide in the audience. Lucha Libre Barrie puts on a brave face - his resilience gives diamonds the rub.

Touch – the Barrier is still up.

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

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.