This is a guest column written by Marceline Smith ( www.marcelinesmith.com ), whos interview with Paul has provided the majority of what we know about him and his character at that point in time. Her contributions to this project have been immense and we are extremely grateful.
As a teenager, I was a huge fan of Creation Records and that must have been how I came to discover Paul’s art on record sleeves for Primal Scream and The Telescopes. I was fascinated by the details, texture and colours and as I was studying art and photography at a local college, I thought Paul would be an interesting subject for my A Level Art project.
I wrote Paul a letter via Creation and he eventually sent a reply and an interview was arranged at his studio there. I was 16 years old and living in a small town in the North East of Scotland so going to London by myself was quite a big adventure. The Creation office in Hackney was a little less rock and roll than you might imagine if you’ve read Alan McGee’s memoirs but it was still pretty thrilling for me.
Paul’s studio was on the top floor and a delightful mess with paintings, drawings and sculptures everywhere. He was a little intimidating but very friendly and spent a couple of hours answering my questions but also challenging me with questions and taking an interest in me personally. I’d just left school and was starting to figure out my path to art school and beyond, so it was amazing to have an artist I admired take me totally seriously. He gave me lots of great advice and encouragement. It’s all so long ago now but I’ve never forgotten that.
I was really sad to hear of Paul’s passing, even though we didn’t keep in touch and it inspired me to dig up the interview tape and publish a fuller version online (http://www.diskant.net/features/paul-cannell/). I’m so glad that I recorded our conversation and kept it though all my house moves so that his words are still available.
If you were wondering about my art project, I called it ‘Untitled’ after many of Paul’s works and the examiner gave me a bad grade because he thought the title was “bleak”! I’ve since made a living as a writer and artist but that still annoys me.