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 Mariam Syed's story below.

Textiles designer and weaver Mariam moved to Glasgow from Pakistan 11 years ago. She was inspired to create her front cover from the colourful children’s prayer mats she designs.

Mariam, 33, said: “Muslim children are introduced to praying the age of seven and when my son turned that age I want to get him his own prayer mat. But the only ones I could find just had a picture of a mosque or the Kaaba in Mecca where we go on pilgrimage. The colours were dreadful, just really dull and I thought my son won’t like this.”

When mum-of-two Mariam did some research, she realised there were no set guidelines and so decided to design her own.

She added: “It just has to be a clean piece of fabric, that’s the only requirement apart from any imagery like faces or animals.”

She naturally looked to her native Pakistan for inspiration and added: “The funny thing is that when I lived there I used to think the colours were garish and loud. But after coming to Scotland everything here seemed a bit grey. I missed colour so much.

“I used wool for my cover because it’s sustainable and will last forever, I still have a prayer mat given to me by my grandma so it’s something we keep on passing on. My kids Essa and Raed love them.

“I was delighted to be asked to take part in the project because I didn’t know anything about Paisley until I got support from a group called InCube that’s based here and helps new creative businesses.

“They taught me that my art should be run like a business that has to make money. Before I got so scared about that side of things. I just love the fact that everybody is so committed in Paisley. This town and people are amazing, there’s so much going on and if they win I think so many businesses like mine will benefit.

“There are so many opportunities.”