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  • Darren Penney

quasi hip cockney drawl

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

This is a guest column compiled of writings by Darren "Des" Penney, known most relevantly to Paul's story as the manager for the late 80's / early 90's band Flowered Up. He is undoubtedly one of the people who knew Paul the closest and his insight has been incredibly valuable.

I liked Paul instantly. I liked everything about him. The way he spoke and the sound of his voice, a nasaly, quasi hip cockney drawl. A kinda stoned Lou Reed doing a cockney accent. His no nonsense 'don't give a fuck about fashion' image. But most of all was the fact that he had a good heart and a passion that was, to me, instantly infectious.

Phobia by Flowered Up

As soon as I'd met Paul and seen some of his work I wanted him to do artwork for Flowered Up exclusively. We were releasing the bands second single entitled 'Phobia' that sonically and lyrically evoked paranoia. Paul had a piece of work that just fitted. A haunting, disturbing and nightmarish painting of faces and rats. We used the full painting for the artwork of the 12" sleeve, full colour. Paul suggested that we use the negative for the 7" sleeve and though the same piece it took on an even darker feel, more jagged yet still as beautiful. Paul would direct the video for that single too where he experiments with some animation. Paul was in demand.

As any artist would be at this stage he was happy at the recognition and very busy. Paul had Punk ideals and was very sceptical of anything mainstream particularlyregarding art, music and fashion. He wanted to know 'why' you liked his work and wanted to use it. But he wanted to be an artist, a painter and soon sleeve work became a novelty to him and it's understandable as

he could do what he saw as 'popart' with his eyes shut. He felt it prevented him being taken seriously as an artist.

Paul Eating © Russell Underwood

After about a year in a drug wilderness following the demise of Flowered Up (sometime in '93) I turned my attention to managing Paul as an artist. I couldn't quite understand why he didn't have representation and was the natural and obvious move for us both. He was becoming increasingly disillusioned with painting and drawing and had retired from record sleeve work after doing a sleeve for Moe Tucker, one of his musical heroes. For him it couldn't get any better than that. Paul wanted to front a rock n roll band.

Many of of my struggles with life in general were mirrored in Paul's. Drugs and mental health

were the most obvious and probably recognisable to other people around us. They serve

each other rather too well.

We shared much in common in regard of the music and art we enjoyed hearing, seeing and

feeling. Our shared sense of humour really enjoyed hanging out and would love to delve into

the dark and barbed recess of each others imaginations.

As far as I was concerned our friendship always outweighed our business relationship and I

feel it was the same for Paul. I don't believe that was a negative for his standing or potential

as an artist because I'm convinced that his career was still yet to flourish be it with me or with

someone else. I would have stepped aside immediately if I thought I was holding him back or

he thought the same.

Kind, honest and generous he was a man that needed to love and be loved and he would

have that over commercial success given the choice. He didn't crave adoration and enjoyed

selling his art to people that bought it because it was his art, a Cannell piece, especially if he

felt the piece in question was shit.

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