Sunday, February 18, 2007


Paul Burwell - an artist of some repute who lived round these parts - died on February 4. Now, I don't profess to move in the circles that Paul moved in, nor do I really know anyone from that corner of the arts world, but the man did provide me with one of my most memorable gigs during time spent as a regular correspondent for the Big Issue. I interviewed Mr Burwell when he launched Hull's Toot (Totally Out of Tune!) festival in 1999, but not before he had taken to the River Hull on his fantastically unseaworthy steel drum laden boat from which he fired off a thousand and one pyrotechnic devices, whilst beating the drums. I seem to recall that one of the explosives miss-fired and produced an enormous cloud of black smoke. Naturally, then, when I got to corner him seconds after he'd clambered back on to dry land, Paul was covered from head-to-foot in a thick layer of soot and looked more like a miner who'd just endured a lengthy stint down t'pit than an artist. Paul, rather than ask for five minutes to get cleaned up, offered me his hand, which I took, and covered me in soot too, before dragging me off somewhere less-noisy (difficult, as this was a festival of the 'sonic arts') for a very funny chat that demonstrated that I was in the presence of an unconventional one-off, a total eccentric and, thankfully, a man that was completely unpretentious about his work. I saw him at a few events subsequently and could never fail to stifle my laughter and always checked to see if he'd managed to rid his skin of that exciting evening's firework-induced filth. A shame, then, that he's died, as it means the world as a whole is one enormous personality less. People that did really know Paul have left some tributes here.

Have spent this sunny Sunday morning enjoying the back catalogue of The Cure - something I've been keen to do since I muttered during The Brits the other night that Brandon Flowers from The Killers occasionally tries to sound a bit like Robert Smith and also connected to the way my hair is starting to resemble Smith's wayward barnet. Anyhoo, I have mentally reaffirmed that Pornography's a very good album, and noticed that our two cats seem to like the band. Meanwhile, with Rank getting to the stage where other people are taking a look it at, it's time to turn my attention to getting some of my addled thoughts down on paper for the Truck commission. So that's the next few weeks taken care of, if not the bills.

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