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 John Cairns' story below.

Video maker John Cairns admits he had a love hate relationship with his home town until time away from Paisley made him realise what was on his own doorstep.

The 24-year-old drew inspiration for his front cover from one of the town’s most famous vistas – Church Hill.

He said: “I moved to Paisley when I was eight and live here until I was about 23. I’ve had a weird relationship with the town. Initially I rejected it but I’ve grown to love it over time. The more I met people from abroad that weren’t from here, they would always describe it as a beautiful place and that made me look at it differently.

“I love the old buildings and Paisley Abbey.”

John was experimenting with digital painting when he came up with his front cover.


He said: “I was using tools  I hadn’t used before, a tablet and a video pen. I used photo shop and Google street view as a source, out of curiosity really.

“I was never really great at painting at school and never managed to find a way into it although I always loved the medium. I used the ‘squares’ technique you get taught in art where you divide the canvas into sections.”

John zoomed in and did small dots of paint at a time – and admitted that he was stunned when he saw the finished result, looking up Church Street,  for the first time.

He said: “It took about 25 hours and I remember zooming out at the end, having not looked at it all and there was an actual thing there, not just blotches of colour.”

John moved into oil paintings after that , but now does mainly film and photography.

He says that having is front cover selected it like having a stamp of approval from the whole town.

He said: “I was delighted when my picture was used because I’m my own worst critic and always assume that people will hate what I do.

“I think the UK City of Culture bid is bringing people together and that’s a good thing. It can show the world what Paisley is capable of. It’s a real motivator to do things and contribute to a bigger cause.”