Listen to the Caroline Cook BBC Interview with Paul Colsell or read an edited transcript on how the mural will make a difference from challenging passers by with a message of generosity, whilst also being an opportunity to support charity.
Paul Colsell is the 82-year-old artist who will paint a Charley Mackesy-inspired mural in the city centre this summer. BBC Radio Devon featured the mural on the News at Seven on Saturday 29 July 2023 with Heidi McCann followed by a upbeat conversation about kindness with Caroline Cook.
BBC News report on the Exeter Kindness Mural
“Work starts this week on a mural in Exeter City Centre inspired by the best selling book ‘The Boy the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ by Charlie Mackesey. Over £5,000 was raised by locals for the mural, which will feature the question of the story – ‘What did you want to be when you grow up?’ And the answer, ‘Kind, said the boy.’
“The Oscar winning Illustrator has given permission for his artwork to be used on the side of the Crossline Building on Heavitree Road and even made a donation. Scaffolding goes up midweek for repairs to the wall and then artist, Paul Collsel will start the mural.”
Caroline Cook BBC Interview with Paul Colsell
Caroline Cook: Kindness is such a lovely word. It’s also a very good quality to have. It’s one that we often try to teach our kids our grandkids our nieces our nephews. And kindness is the inspiration for a mural which is about to be painted on a wall on a busy road in Exeter. The man who will be doing it is local artist, Paul Colsell with me this morning. Hello, Paul, how are you? Lovely to have you with us. Thank you very much. And what an amazing idea. Tell us more about the building you’re working on and why you’re doing this?
Paul Colsell: Well, I just happened to come across somebody who worked in the building. And they were telling me what a scruffy old building it was. And it’s an important road out of the centre of Exeter, Heavitree Road. And everyone goes past these shabby old walls. “I’ve always dreamed of having the mural there, it would be lovely.” And I said, “Well, I love painting big scale things. I’d like doing scenery and murals.”
She said, “Well, let’s do it? And what should we paint on it?” Well, this book had just come out. I don’t know if you know it, ‘The Boy, the Mole, The Fox and the Horse‘
Caroline Cook: It’s one that’s so comforting to so many of us actually, anyone who knows that the book by Charlie magazine, it’s beautiful.
Paul Colsell: Well that’s right. It really struck a chord. And I thought, well, because it was so fresh, you know, and everyone was talking about it. I said “Why don’t we get a picture out of that?”
And she said, “Oh, yeah.”
So I I sent a message to Charlie Mackesy who did the book. And I thought you know he’s going to talk about royalties and hum and haw about conditions. And he just wrote back saying, “What a great idea! Tell me how it goes!”
So that was a green light. Then we found out this building was Grade 2 listed so I had to get Council permission and that involved doing all sorts of site plans and a 14 page form and everything. Anyway, they’re enthusiastic in the end. And then we set up crowdfunding to raise money, but we’re still raising money because the door is rotten. And we need more than we thought for just the scaffolding and redoing the plaster work. So still going on. It’s called Exeter Kindness Mural and donations welcome. Anything leftover goes to charity.
So one of the things behind the wall is a soup kitchen for the homeless which seven different organisations in Exeter do, one each night. The homeless come along for a meal or get clothes or sleeping bags and things like that. Or chats, comfort generally. And so it’s a really positive area for Exeter.
Caroline Cook: It couldn’t be more appropriate really. That’s amazing.
Paul Colsell: Yeah, well you know, there’s so much negativity around and, and cruelty, I think a nice big wall with this massive picture, it’s 500 times bigger than in the book. So it will be great to see it finished. And we hope to paint, well, we’re still struggling getting the tradesmen together, because nobody likes doing quotes because you know, you have to stick to it. And nobody knows what’s going to happen once you start working on the wall. You know, the whole thing might fall off.
Caroline Cook: I was gonna say, because you mentioned the plaster, I imagine there’s quite a lot of prep involved.
Paul Colsell: Yeah. Scaffolding and then and then redo the render. And nobody knows what’s out there. Because it’s, you know, nobody’s been up the top.
Caroline Cook: It could be quite a job, definitely. And I know you’ve done quite a few murals and see you are familiar with some of the challenges. How long do you expect something like this to take?
Paul Colsell: Well, it’s a fairly simple picture. You divide the wall up into squares, you know, one metre squares, and then do one square at a time, by eye from, the grid on the book, and then do one square at a time, so you never get too far distorted. And if the weather’s good, it should be done in two weeks, the actual painting.
Caroline Cook: That’s true, actually. Yeah, like the colour scheme is quite simple, very beautiful, but quite simple. It’s a really busy area, there. Heavitree Road is going to have a lot of passers by. And so hopefully it’s going to be a lot of joy to people kind of, you know, feeling a bit glum on their way to work.
Paul Colsell: Yes I hope so.
Caroline Cook: And kindness is a concept. What does that mean to you?
Paul Colsell: Well it’s so basic, isn’t it? I mean, Jesus tells everyone to be kind, you know, it’s in the Bible. It’s one of the great Christian virtues, one of this fruits of the Spirit. And it’s a beautiful thing. I mean, everyone responds to it. You have to be kind to children, and you have to be kind to animals and there’s just never too much of it, is there?
Caroline Cook: Can’t agree with that more, absolutely Paul couldn’t say it better myself. We cross everything for you that so that you can get all that that prep done and all the people to help you that you need. It’s a listed building as well. There’s always complications and challenges with these things but impressive that you can do that within two weeks. We wish you all the best. We think it’s a great idea, Paul, thank you very much.
That’s local artist Paul Colsell and we really hope that that mural is successful on that busy road in Exeter and if you haven’t ever read ‘The Boy, the Mole, The Fox and the Horse‘ by Charlie Mackesy’ do, because it’s beautiful. It’s really cheering, it will make you feel better. Hopefully, so will that mural very soon.