27 Jan 2011

Triumphantly

William, The Maxwells front man.

William was mid band-practice at the Maxwell-Collins household. He broke the flow to welcome me and announce that in a fortnight he'd be supporting his father at the Shepherds Bush Empire. His band, The Maxwells (named in honour of his mother's side of the family), will be performing their first gig in front of a crowd of over 1000 but he ain't fazed.

Grace

It has been a long while since I've felt the warmth of this fiercely matriarchal household. The volume still reaches fever pitch and there's no room for the sentimental or superficial. Under Grace's stewardship the Maxwell-Collins juggernaut careers ever onward and upward with more laughter and less falling. If ever there was a motivation guru in the making then Grace is it.

Edwyn

Edwyn had been busy producing bands in his studio and working on his upcoming exhibition 'Nature Punk' showing at the Idea Generation Gallery. It's great to see Ed being creative on all fronts, giving as good as he gets and receiving the critical praise deserves.





This intimate image is one of triumph over adversity. Being with Grace and Edwyn puts things into perspective- money isn't the be all.

20 Jan 2011

Make Believe

The Office, Gordon Lane, Glesga

“I’ll have tae call you back, the police wanna word.”
It was a beautiful evening in July but on the west coast conditions were taking a turn for the worse. Barrie was being interrogated in The Office (Gordon Lane) by the boys in blue.


 An hour later he called me back. “You’ll never faaken believed it...” Curiously, every time he says "you’ll never believe it," I almost always do.
 Barrie had responded to cries for help coming from the lane. His fellow drinking compatriot Scott was being attacked by Cyclops, a monocular blade wielding thug. Cyclops threw away the knife at the sight of an oncoming Barrie before making good his escape past two bicycle mounted police responding to the incident.
 The police arrived on the scene to find Scott berating Barrie. Barrie thought the knife had landed on an air-conditioning unit so they made a spectacularly failed attempt to find the evidence. Scott couldn’t lift Barrie- he was recovering from a recent groin operation. The two inebriates were unable to stand tall, let alone scale the dizzying height of the unit- almost 4 metres from the ground. The police charged Barrie with lifting a pole off the air-con unit with the intention of using it as a weapon.
 Barrie was furious “Pole? Wha’ pole? There was nae pole.” In the eyes of the police Barrie was better off the streets and out of sight.

Glasgow Sheriff Court
 August 2010. Glasgow Sheriff Court. At the first trial the evidence, the pole, could not be found. Nevertheless, the judge postponed the trial and served Barrie with a curfew order- off the streets by 7pm. This only served to prevent him from evening visits with his two daughters who were suffering from meningitis.

Toilets at the court- the blue lighting prevents addicts finding a vein
 October 2010. Court Room 16. The second hearing was delayed- as usual. At one o’clock the court went into recess for lunch and Barrie’s lawyer suggested that I wrote a letter of commendation in case he was found guilty. I left Barrie and Scott to their liquid lunch and headed to a nearby cafe. When I returned Barrie was alone. He looked up at me and groaned “You’ll never faaken believe it...”
 The dynamic duo were life-saving while I was busy composing. A widower floated by them, face down, as they were taking refreshments by the banks of the Clyde. Without hesitation Scott dived into the black waters and retrieved the wouldbe suicide victim. The prosecuting witnesses (the police) were watching on as the event unfolded and escorted Scott to the hospital to have him checked out for hypothermia. Back in court Barrie’s lawyer confessed that this was a first in all his years of practice at the bar. The judge had to agree and the trial was adjourned- again.


November 2010. The morning of the big day and Scott downed a bottle of cream sherry, in one, to steady his nerves. Barrie’s lawyer couldn’t call a soused Scott to stand as witness- Barrie was on his own. In Court Room 16 the Procurator Fiscal produced evidence- a metal pole with Barrie's name attached. The police witness couldn’t identify the object as the 'weapon' from the crime scene! The pole, as he recollected from his notes, was wooden not metal. The Procurator Fiscal requested that the trial be adjourned for 45 minutes while they tried to locate the actual evidence! Three quarters of an hour later and- you’ll never faaken believe it! A wooden pole turned up, again with Barrie’s name on it. It was his word against theirs. Was Barrie implying that the police were committing perjury? The judge had no alternative other than to find him guilty of a ‘very serious’ crime.


 January 2010, sentencing day, Room 15, Glasgow Sheriff Court. I arrived in time for Barrie's lawyer to pass my letter of commendation to the judge. The judge peered over his spectacles at the room of assembled guilty and asked ”Is Mr Gavin Evans in court?” Barrie turned to me from the dock and I raised my finger. “Ah, the smartly dressed man at the front!” The heads of the condemned turned my way. “Mmm... Photographer in Residence with the National Theatre of Scotland,” he was impressed. In giving his verdict the judge summed that Barrie was indebted to his referees and, despite the serious nature of the crime, he would commute the sentence from a custodial term to one of 18 months probation.
 Without letters of commendation from 'professionals' could Barrie be serving a sentence in Barlinnie for a crime of fiction? You'd better believe it!

19 Jan 2011

Skippering


Barrie showed me to where he used to 'skipper'- sleep rough. For a couple of years he slept on the beam of this bridge over the river Clyde. As if to prove the point there is a duvet hanging there like a ghostly reminder.

Extract



In July I was approached by Dundee Health Services Unit. The unit was in the process of compiling the largest survey of the dental health and well-being of Scottish homeless people to date. 853 took part in a questionnaire and dental health checks- Barrie was one of the original interviewees for the project. A picture of the characteristics and needs of this group of people has been built up from the results. The next stage of the project is to; develop an oral health initiative for homeless people, offer assistance with finding a dentist, making and attending appointments and so on.
 The unit requested permission to use one of the 'biopic' images for the cover of the report. The reproduction fee was obvious- teeth for Barrie. Barrie and I had agreed long ago that our last photographic session would be when he could smile without stigma or embarrassment. The unit gladly agreed to this reciprocal arrangement. The end is nigh.




7 Jan 2011

Breaking with Convention


The sense - producing human machine works on the basis of a very simple law:

We cannot see all the phenomena we can think of,
and we cannot think about certain images we can see.

The power of the sense, which cannot be reproduced in words or images,
belongs to the world of human feelings, as inner side of every image or word.

The sense we live in - the sense behind the one we believe in - is a vehicle which can be used for our journey or abused for the journey of someone else.



23 September 1993
Dear Mr Evans,

I am writing with reference to the reproduction of one of the
photographs from your recent exhibition published in the Sunday
Times Magazine of 29 August 1993.

The British Red Cross has a special responsibility for monitoring
unauthorised use or misuse of the red cross emblem and of designs
closely resembling the red cross emblem within the United
Kingdom. This is part of the price we pay for the privilege to
use the red cross emblem in our work.

I realise that the photograph in question does not replicate
exactly the red cross emblem. However, the red cross used might
be said to fall within the statutory provision prohibiting use
of designs closely resembling the red cross emblem without prior
authorisation from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
(Section 6(2)(b) of the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 - copy
attached). Perhaps more importantly, you will understand that
the image is rather stark, with disturbing connotations, running
counter to the meaning of the red cross emblem and the
humanitarian objects of the International Red Cross.

As you may be aware, the red cross emblem is the internationally
agreed symbol of protection during armed conflicts. It is used
to safeguard the wounded and sick and those who seek to help them
in a totally neutral and impartial way. If the red cross is
used for other purposes, no matter how insignificant or
beneficial they may seem, its special significance will be
diminished and potentially lives may be lost.

I also enclose a leaflet which may help to explain more clearly
the restrictions on use of the red cross design. Similar
restrictions apply in most other countries.

Whilst respecting fully your freedom of expression as an artist,
I feel obliged to bring the special significance of the red cross
and the legal restrictions on its use to your notice and ask for
your understanding and co-operation.

I should be most grateful if you would kindly take the above
comments into account when producing future material.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and support.

The 'enclosed leaflets'

 The above warning was received when I was promoting my first, and last, commissioned exhibition 'dis'. I was astounded to find I had unwittingly broken the Geneva Convention. dis was a collaborative project that investigated the 'power of information'- a subject popularised by the introduction of Wikileaks. The image at the center of the controversy explored the appropriation of symbols and how sentiment or meaning could be changed or perverted. To the right a Lucky Strike cigarette packet is cut to reveal the word 'lust'. Lucky Strike claimed to change their branding from green to red during WW2 to save on copper used in the printing process. This was convenient propaganda; in reality the green graphic didn't appeal to female smokers. To the left is the image of a man broken into the shape of the Sanskrit symbol for good luck- the svastika. The svastika has had it's meaning irreparably changed by association with fascism. The positive '+' symbol that the body hangs on is corrupted by the negative connotations of the swastika. The '+' is on a black background though, not white and is also proportionately slimmer than the Red Cross logo. This incident clearly illustrates the value and sensitivity of information.

 The Glasgow Pavilion's Christmas pantomime production of Robin Hood has now fallen foul of the Red Cross rule. The character of a nurse wearing a uniform with a red cross has too broken the Geneva Convention. This has turned a pantomime into a farce. I thought that the choice of Jim Davidson as lead actor was enough to break any conventions of taste.


A friend slipped this pamphlet into my hands when I told him of the Red Cross's attempt to expurgate the project.

24 Sep 2010

Showmen

The showmen have pitched-up on the Meadows. These fairground folk are fair folk- don't call them travellers- they are showmen. Under the stewardship of father and son team, John and Jordan Evans (no relation to me) are bringing all the fun of the fair to the Edinburgh locals.


John Evans

 
Jordan Evans


Sheldon Evans


Sheldon Evans Jnr


Greg Hickey


Tanya Hickey
 
Nyla Hickey



The world of the showman is a family affair.

11 Sep 2010

Take Your Pic


Mementos from the motherland.
Dreams can come true- take your pic.
 

8 Sep 2010

Ar Chaos on the Thames

A retrospective of the world of legendary French circus Archaos was launched tonight as part of the Mayor's Thames Festival. My work is the centre piece of the show but I couldn't afford the fare to London to give a first hand account of the audience's reaction. I'd have liked to meet the old performers again and recollect the days of diesel fumes and cunning stunts.
 The following is a selection of press/ publicity cuttings featuring my images:

The Guardian on-line

The Independent
The Stage

Mark Borkowski's Blog

Guardian paper
Free Art London

Coin Street



Thames Festival on-line









8 Aug 2010

iPhone app

The iPhone app is working and is the model for the Big Issue 'biopic' app. With the support and coverage of the magazine it is hoped that the app will attract sponsorship which will in turn go towards funding a Big Issue Foundation in Scotland.

You can download the app by entering www.m.gavinevans.com into Safari and then adding the app to your 'home screen'.


1 Aug 2010

A Fare Cop

Sunday Herald Magazine

 I was between interviews for the post of Photographer in Residence with the National Theatre of Scotland- grilled by photographer David Eustace before being roasted by Roberta Doyle, Head of External Affairs. In the interlude I'd arranged to meet Barrie who was accompanied by vendors Scott and Rab. We were on our way from the Big Issue office in the Saltmarket to their pitches when police appeared from out of the blue and pulled us aside. The boys were drinking on the street- an offence in these parts of Glesga. Barrie shrugged off the incident- he'd amassed a pyre of fines. The belt around the policemen's waists drew my attention. The usual tools dangled; telescopic truncheons, cuffs and mace- nothing out of the ordinary. It was the taser and pistol that jolted my senses. Armed police handing out tickets to alcoholics- a sobering thought.

It's a fare cop!


9 Jul 2010

biopic 02 chapter 11

Barrie appears better. The swelling from the beating has subsided but the whites of his eyes tell their own story.













8 Jun 2010

Appleby and Pomegranate



Pre Appleby Gypsy gathering, Teesside
I’d planned to celebrate my birthday visiting Appleby Fair with Barrie. For years I’ve had the intention of attending the UK’s biggest gathering of Gypsy travellers. Barrie was glad of the invite and the chance to escape Glesga for a day or two. The night before we were due to leave I called him on the phone to firm arrangements. He was distraught, he couldn’t face living and the thought of the trip was the furthest thing from his mind. A couple of weeks ago he was been beaten within an inch of his life- another case of mistaken identity. Three men muscled their way into his home and taught him a lesson he couldn’t comprehend. None of my cagoling could permeate, let alone lift his depression. Barrie was drowning his sorrows in a sea of discount lager. The phone dropped from his hand and he went silent. All I could hear was the white noise of pedestrians and Tannoys- he was slumped in the entrance of Central Station.  
 I found him the next day roaming aimlessly in the rain. In the car he broke down. If asked him, if he had the choice, where would he want to be right there and then? It was my birthday and we were going to make good. His sister’s home in Hamilton sprang instantly to mind- the sanctity of the family nest. By the warmth of his sister's hearth he regained his strength and complained about his aching shoulder. Barrie had fallen down a flight of stairs the week before while attempting to cold turkey- the shock to this system resulted in a fit. Pulling on a shirt was agony. His injuries spread over his back like the flesh of a peeled pomegranate- back in the car.



After an hour at the local A and E Barrie appeared with his arm in a sling- he had fractured his shoulder.


 
We'll try again next year.



30 Apr 2010

The Plaid Truth


Terry (Gilliam) gave my kid a pearl of wisdom, he warned him to “stay away from men in plaid.” Mindful of Terry’s caveat we (the Afro-Celt contingency of the family and me) set course for the Kingdom of Fife. Cousin Kate was getting hitched and the Kirkaldy clans would be on parade.


 Sure enough, the picture-perfect setting overlooking the Firth of Forth was awash with plaid. Here plaid is ‘tartan,’ skirts are called ‘kilts’ and furry fanny-packs are ‘sporrans’. This brazen contravention of norms doesn’t emasculate or feminise the wearer. Scots aren’t tough, they’re hardened - tempered by the squalls that gnaw beneath the hemline. It is on these occasions that I’m reminded of my Anglo-Saxon roots - to be in the pants-wearing minority still feels curiously alien.
  This was the perfect opportunity for some recreational ‘touch.’ For months I have been focusing on the gated comfort zones of the homeless and the vulnerable. Today could see my hand penetrating personal space and making contact – touching.


Kate and Isobel bride and mother


Brian and Bill groom and father


Julie and Dawn handmaidens

Darren and Ross


Liz and Molly


Margaret and Ruth sisters


Sulaima and Omar siblings


Chantalle and Natasha


Finlay and Skye




The contents of their sporrans.














Now I come to think of it, when Terry gave his advice he was wearing a poncho- a plaid poncho.