Behold The Man

‘Behold the Man’ is a social photographic art project. An exploration of mind, body and soul through a two-year collaboration with Alan Dainton, a homeless beggar battling addiction.

The images, interviews and videos that Marksteen made with Alan were brought together to create a limited edition book and an exhibition. The objective of the project was to create awareness around the topic of addiction and homelessness, whilst exploring the nature of charitable giving.

Behold the main photo 1

The Big Cold Turkey Foundation supports youth at risk of suffering, either from their own addictions, or from the addictions of those close to them. As a founding partner of the Foundation, Creative Director Marksteen Adamson has always sought ways to increase awareness of the issues surrounding addiction. After meeting Alan Dainton, a homeless man living on the streets of Cheltenham, Marksteen had the idea of documenting some of Alan’s daily life over several months.

With Alan’s agreement, the two of them collaborated on Behold The Man, a study of Alan’s world and the challenges he faced as a homeless beggar battling addiction.

Behold the main photo 3
I am
I choose
I take

The images, interviews and videos that Marksteen made with Alan were brought together to create an exhibition and a limited edition book. The overarching idea for the book was to make something beautiful and significant out of the dirt and chaos of Alan’s world.

Location info 1

Contained in the book is the thesis for the project as well as latest Home Office figures on drugs and homelessness in the UK. The back page is embossed with Alan’s signature and the cover unfolds to become a poster.

The high production values are deliberately juxtaposed with the subject matter. The aim was to make readers feel slightly uncomfortable that so much effort has been devoted to what most people would deem a hopeless case of addiction and disregard for society.

The exhibition ‘Behold The Man’ was launched at The Wilson – Cheltenham’s museum and art gallery. Visitors were invited to contemplate three huge portraits of Alan, displayed in a triptych, each representing a different state of mind. A documentary video showed scenes from Alan’s daily life, adding depth to his story. Visitors had the opportunity to help Alan and those in similar situations by purchasing the supporting book, posters and postcards. The money spent was converted into gold plastic coins which could be used to vote on three charitable options:

- Sustenation:
Proceeds would be given directly to Alan.

- Intervention:
Would go towards one year’s rehabilitation for Alan or someone similar.

- Prevention:

Would fund projects concerned with youth at risk or in recovery from drugs and alcohol.


The project has received generous donations from the public while increasing awareness and interest around the topic of homelessness and addiction. Votes in the coin drop were overwhelmingly in favour of ‘Prevention’. This money was therefore donated to the local YMCA.

Alan16 1

Two weeks after the exhibition, Alan decided to stay off heroin and is now in sheltered accommodation in the Cheltenham YMCA. He is working on a recovery programme.

If my story helps just one kid stay off drugs, it will have been worth it.


Alan Dainton

of the deaths of homeless people were caused by drug poisoning in 2017

ACMD Report 19th June 2019

people were recorded by the BBC as sleeping rough in 2020

BBC News

increase in drug-related deaths of homeless people between 2012 and 2017

ONS 2018