Paisley has played a really important part in my life and my art... I describe myself now as a Paisley artist because I feel that I truly am, and that’s a huge privilege.
I am excited about the Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture bid because Paisley has played a really important part in my life and my art. It has helped shape me as an artist and I know that it can do the same for other people.
My home country is Poland but I moved to the UK in 2005, originally to Manchester before later settling in Paisley.
I didn’t know the town of Paisley was related to the Paisley Pattern. I’ve known and loved the Paisley Pattern all my life – I remember wearing it in high school. But it was only when I moved that I made the connection.
In 2014, I was made redundant and had to choose between moving back to Manchester or staying in Paisley. For family reasons, I wanted to stay in Paisley as it’s a smaller, more family-friendly community to be in than somewhere the size of Manchester. But I had to think about what I wanted to do with my career.
I decided to go back to my artistic roots. It was a difficult decision to take but I decided that if I never tried, I’d never know…
I got some really valuable advice from Business Gateway who told me about the UK City of Culture bid and the bigger strategy for Paisley. I was then able to get a space in the InCube business start-up hub as one of the first group that moved in during July 2015.
InCube was a huge help in getting up and running. They were able to put me in touch with so many influential people, such as the chief executive of the Cultural Enterprise Office at Creative Scotland.
InCube was also a quiet place to work away from home – yet at the same time, you were sharing the space with other creative people so there was a lot of encouragement and positivity.
In my experience, people rally round to support you here when you’re trying to do something a bit different. The Chamber of Commerce was another great support in setting me up with lots of networking opportunities. And Margaret Scott at UWS, who works with the 2021 bid team, was another great help.
When I was looking to stage my first exhibition, Margaret and the principal of the university, Crag Mahoney, took me round the new atrium space and offered it as a venue. I was delighted – it’s so bright and spacious that it was absolutely perfect!
I also got the chance to speak at an Inspiring Women conference at the university. This was a huge step for me. It was the first time I spoke publicly about taking the decision to be a full-time artist and the challenges I faced.
I’m a big supporter of the Paisley 2021 bid. I describe myself now as a Paisley artist because I feel that I truly am, and that’s a huge privilege. I wasn’t born here but I know enough about the history, the textile heritage and the potential of the town to know it should win.
I’m working now with a team of specialists from UWS on an exhibition which is really going to challenge and provoke people – watch this space!