Touching People in ‘Ordinary’ Life

Martin from the company he founded, The Machine Zone which seeks to raise awareness of gambling harms through the arts, seen here at Dundee Repertory Theatre’s dark comedy about gambling. The play’s co-written by somebody who’s spent 20 years working in the industry. Read about The Bookies here.

Proudly wearing his Big Step hoodie, Martin’s a veteran of the Big Step walks in Scotland, most recently walking between Edinburgh and Glasgow, visiting football grounds along the way.

The Big Step itself is a living art form. Like Ernest Hemingway said of writing, it’s one per cent inspiration and 99% perspiration. And blisters and aching legs! It marches through communities of every kind, raising awareness and making friends along the way.



Most of us don’t spend our lives attending to public health messages. We’re busy watching TV and films, listening to and making music, reading, enjoying company, maybe going to see a play.

So it’s in these sorts of things we learn and think about life. Heartbreaks, family drama, the many ‘social issues’ of our time, our happiness and sorrow. Everything.

Artists of every type have been dealing with these things for thousands of years. When it comes to something like mental health or addiction you’ll find it all in soaps, novels, paintings, songs, plays, human interest stories in newspapers and so on. When a writer like Jimmy McGovern writes a play about gambling it reaches millions, gets people thinking and talking together. An organisation like Fast Forward uses theatre and film to educate thousands of young people.

More modest in scale, we’ve produced a film One Last Spin. By a great stroke of good fortune the singer-songwriter and musician Amanda Lehmann recorded a song with the same title as the film after watching it. She continues to promote the issue with radio interviews. You can read about how the song came into being here.

The Arts are a PART of It All

Things like harms from gambling and drugs such as alcohol  are very complex issues. There are no ‘silver bullets’  to find soulutions. There are important things happening at ‘higher levels’ in statutory services such as Public Health and the NHS, professional medical associations, academic research, politics, lobbying for much more and better treatment, and lobbying for independent evaluation and design in education. 

There is brilliamt work being done at grassroots level – from a few individuals to those who have formed important organisations.

The Third Sector plays a big part such as Scotland Reducing Gambling Harms which has given us immense support. 

With so much involvement from so many places, we’re not advocating the arts as a ‘cure-all’. Far from it. There are many long-established movements working to integrate the arts and health. Our own work is infinitessimal in comparison.



A Wish

Sculptors, painters, scriptwriters, poets, musicians, songwriters, novelists…

You are invited to put your souls into exploring gambling. Dostoevsky did it with his novel, The Gambler. You can too!

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