My Story

As Paisley waved off its bid for UK City of Culture 2021, the bid documents themselves were all given a unique twist.

Artists, designers and groups with links to the town were invited to design bespoke front covers for the documents.

Bound with thread donated from Coats, the company to whom Paisley’s fortunes were tied and which is still a global force, each has its own Paisley inspired design.

As they are handed over to the judging panel of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport who organise the competition, we can reveal the inspiration behind some of the 25 covers.

Read Dominika Zurawska's story below.

Painter Dominika Zurawska has one of her portraits hanging on the wall of Madonna's New York home and also counts singer Paloma Faith among her celebrity fans.

But the artist, who works from a shed of the garden of her Paisley home, says that being asked to design a cover for the town's UK City of Culture bid is one of the most exciting projects she's been involved in.

Dominika moved to the UK from her native Poland in 2005  has lived and worked in Paisley since 2010.

She returned to her first love of painting after she was made redundant from her job at a casino.

The 35-year-old, whose works starts at £1,500 for the smallest pieces, up to £10,000, says she is inspired by strong women like Madonna.

She tracked down her musical heroine through her personal assistant in America after painting her portrait - and was thrilled when she asked for the work to be sent to the star's Big Apple residence.​

Dominika said:  “I was a big fan of Madonna, not only as an artist but a woman. When she came to play Glasgow in 2015 I got tickets and I decided I would give her a portrait I had painted of her.

“I only got as far as her security but I emailed her right hand women and she came back to tell me Madonna loved how I expressed myself and asked if I could send the painting to her. I did it because I wanted her to know she was a big influence on me growing up.”

Many of her paintings – including her Paisley 2021 front cover, show women with horns, which she says is a symbol of strength. The subject on her bid cover has horns decorated with Paisley pattern – the design that symbolises the town and which she has loved since her teens.

The artist, who has held shows all over Europe, including in Barcelona and her native Poland, says the help and support she has received from Renfrewshire Council's business incubator programme InCube.

The mum-of-one initially set up a business plan to set up a school for children and adults to use art as a form of therapy, with the secondary part just to sell her work but added: “There was so much interest that after a month I changed the business plan to put my paintings as the main focus. I still haven’t opened the school as there was no time.

“I think the City of Culture bid is amazing. I lived in Manchester before and when I decided to move to Scotland as my husband was working in Stirling, I went for Paisley without knowing anything about it. When I was in High School I used to love wearing Paisley pattern decorated clothes but I didn’t know what it was called. It was only when I walked round the town that I put the things together.

“After I was made redundant it was in Paisley that I met all the right people to create my business and make it successful. I got loads of support from InCube and the University of West of Scotland.

"I think Paisley has what it takes to win."