Trained as a fine artist and art historian, Gavin is a writer and creative project organiser.
Across his diverse output, he is interested in how the social worlds and aesthetic preoccupations of visual artists can be connected, sometimes in surprising ways, to those within popular music, queer culture and performance.
His latest book No Machos or Pop Stars is a detailed cultural history of the subversive influence of UK art school on popular music culture, telling the story of how fine art painters and performers became post-punk and pop music pioneers. He is currently researching a related volume which will tell the hitherto untold story of the roots of 1970s US rock music performers in the art and theatre milieu of the queer underground.
Gavin has written widely on queer art and culture, showing how LGBTQ+ artists have challenged us to think again about how aesthetic judgements are routinely linked to social ones. He has published essays on artists and performers Oreet Ashery, Joe Brainard, Mel Brimfield, Shirley Clarke, Samuel R. Delany, Jason Holliday, David Hoyle, Kiki and Herb, Larry Rivers, Andy Warhol and others.
He often works collaboratively with other authors and artists on creative projects, including as co-director of research project Performance Matters and of feature film This Is Not a Dream and compiler of the post-punk album The Art School Dance Goes On. With writer and curator Heike Roms, he is currently developing a new research project exploring regional histories of UK art education.
Gavin was formerly Professor of Visual Cultures and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London and Attenborough Chair in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Sussex. He is currently Professor of Fine Art at Northumbria University, Newcastle.
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