For months I have been haunted by a latent presence on the streets of Edinburgh. Cigs.
Not since the Caves at Lascaux has man witnessed such mesmerising treatment of bare stone, such bold purpose. In ancient Pompeii, the artisan tiling his mosaic could not have hoped for greater dexterity of hand and symmetry of line.
I have been tracking down this elusive talent for some time now. I believed initially that his base of operations was in Leith but then I witessed the scene below on a drive to North Berwick one day. Who knows his dastardly reach?
Nobody knows exactly where Cigs comes from. What scant records there are show that as a young apprentice he did mottling work on the famous mural of Erich Honecker kissing Leonid Brezhnev on the Berlin Wall. Latterly he sprang up in Paris where he made the murky subway system his subterranean workshop. He also worked with Richard “Richie” Morando aka ‘Seen’ in The Bronx for a few months in 1996.
West Bowling Green St
But it is the subversive ‘Edinburgh Series’ that Cigs is most lauded for. These surgical vignettes are to be found all over the Scottish capital, from Tollcross to Torphin, striking fear into the hearts of the city’s elite.
Cigs is a wraith, a shadow, a Mr Hyde, a Moriarty. His lurid crest is as familiar to me as the lines on my palm. He’s in my head.
Damn you Cigs!
Once I thought I had caught him in the act. I was walking back from a night out and took a shortcut round the back of the University. Turning down a gloomy alley I saw a hooded figure addressing a virgin wall some distance away. I took my chance and approached.
“Cigs you fiend,” I shouted, “Cigs, is it you?”
The figure twisted round gracelessly. It wasn’t Cigs. It was a drunk man vomiting whilst simultaneously trying to urinate.
“Dinny smoke mate,’ he said, before resuming his wretch.
Who are you Cigs? Are you a force for good?
Perhaps there is a little bit of Cigs in all of us. The unending urge to make our mark, to be seen, to be remembered. But as the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus once said “Our sins are more easily remembered than our good deeds”. For Cigs the price of fame is the life of the nameless fugitive and absent visionary.
What next for Cigs? Rumour has it that Cigs will soon be making a feature length film (working title “Exit Through The Butcher’s Shop”). And a major retrospective at The National Galleries of Scotland is also in the offing, where Cigs’ work will be shown alongside Jack Vettriano’s, among others.
If you spot any of Cigs’ work around the city do feel free to take a snap and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If I get enough I will post the entries in another section on this site.
If you are reading this Cigs, drop me an email. I always protect my sources.