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  • Writer's pictureHarri Lane

This is the story of the true origin of the iconic 'Psychadelic Sun' (or how I like to refer to it; Damp Water Spot) as I have come to understand it. Like I talked about last week - when Bobby Gillespie went to Paul to commission some work for Higher Than The Sun he didn't let him listen to it - as he thought it may influence his work. Clearly going off of the name, Paul included an interesting looking little sun within the painting. The smaller story there was that Paul had allegedly been lying on the floor under the influence of LSD staring up at the Creation Records office ceiling where he had noticed a damp water spot and been immediately inspired. Bobby specifically really liked the sun and it's inclusion so he and a graphic designer cropped specifically the sun and redesigned it as pop art. When he's asked about it in interviews - he refers to the colour and style as similar to 'soap powder packets'

It's been said a lot at this point, but the design is so incredibly identifiable and iconic. Even if you don't know Primal Scream or Screamadelica - you've seen this album cover. It was one of only 10 album covers to be immortalized as official stamps in 2010 alongside greats like Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie.

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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Leda Green

This is a guest column written by Alexandra Leda Green (@miscellanea_arts on Instagram), a very talented artist who is contributing to the project.

When I heard about The Damp Water Spot project I was drawn to the idea of getting to see multiple artists from a variety of disciplines draw inspiration from the same source. I think a lot of us are interested to see an artist's quirks made identifiable by the use of a universal subject matter as in the popular ‘draw this in your style’ challenge.

But with this project the challenge is much more multi-faceted, I want to respond to what I see in Paul Cannell's work in my piece, not just translate it into my style. For example, Cannell’s bold, expressive mark-making shows incredible artistic bravery I often struggle w ithin my own work which tends towards smaller tightly rendered pieces. I hope to express these larger marks while also working with my detail-oriented strengths, to channel Cannell’s style and techniques while avoiding simple pastiche and retaining my own voice in the mix.

In my preliminary collecting of repeated motifs and colours, I quickly became aware of just how much the psychedelic sun symbol dominates any search result on Cannell and his art, to the point where it began to seem like an entity in its own right.

In response to this, I started sketching and imagining the symbol inhabiting 3D space as a character of its own, one which developed more naturalistic features under the bold mark-making.

It functions as a literal representation of the art having a life of its own transcending its creator while the inclusion of the more human features is a reminder that there is a still a person behind the art obscured despite or even because of the symbols prominence. To me, it's in creating this art and exploring Cannell's techniques that I can attempt to scratch the surface of who he may have been or at least what he means to me.

After accruing as much imagery of Cannell's work I could, I’ve developed an interest in the recurring colours which don’t immediately jump out when looking at Cannell's works, the subdued blues, greiges, ochres and mauves which help the primary reds, blues and golden yellows pop. Thematically these oft present but less striking colours fit with my 'man inside the sun' figure who is present but not always seen.

The alternative version used for the single release of Higher Than the Sun pulls these tones front and centre cementing it as the specific variant of the symbol I will be drawing from the most.

With my concept starting to take root I'm experimenting with using oil, acrylic and whatever else I can get my hands on to try and capture those textured brushstrokes I was so enthralled (and intimidated) by. I like to create images that suggest at a wider narrative or world so I plan to craft an environment of mark-making by layering my brushstrokes on transparent acetate sheets bringing Cannel's motifs into a 3d space. My sun figure to be part 2d paint on acetate and part 3d clay to try and blend the line between a painting and physical space.

Alexandra Leda Green is an insanely talented artist and I am extremely excited to see more from her. For more of her work - visit her Instagram at @miscellanea_arts

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  • Writer's pictureHarri Lane

The most well circulated story about Paul and his involvement with the music industry in my experience would have to be how he came to meet Primal Scream. It's obviously of importance - as It's part of the larger tale of how the iconic imagery for some of their sleeves came to exist (most notably Screamadelica of course). In my research generally about Paul and more specifically for this project I've watched a lot of interviews with those involved in Primal Scream's success.

In a surprisingly large percentage of these interviews - Bobby Gillespie (of Primal Screa m fame) sits as he is interviewed by some sort of music radio show. They work through some questions and inevitably reach a question discussing Screamadelica's iconic imagery.

Chances are that Paul will only be briefly mentioned, but on a few occasions - Bobby will tell some form of the story I am about to tell, which has been corroborated by multiple parties (including Paul).

Paul was close friends with a man who ended up being a drummer for the band Flowered Up. This drummer would sometimes visit Paul's house and gaze in amazement at some of the paintings he had been working on (in Paul's words; He’d come round the house a few times and be freaked out by the paintings and stuff'). According to Paul, as soon as Flowered Up needed a sleeve - Paul was the man to do it. It was through working with Flowered Up that Paul met Jeff Barrett - formerly of Creation Records (Primal Scream's label) who had set up his own label called Heavenly Records (Flowered Up's label). Paul worked with Heavenly for about a year before somehow being introduced to Alex Nightingale (Primal Scream's manager) and making a transition over to Creation Records. I've stopped myself before I start to talk about Paul's studio at the Creation offices - because that's what I'm going to be chatting about next week.

But that's basically it - an overcomplicated simple story full of namedrops, but that is all it took from Paul to go from an unemployed painter to the creator of one of the most iconic pieces of music industry imagery of all time.

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