Controversial Preston resident Jam Imanirad has created a mural in style of Gaudi on the outside of his council house. But he didn’t stop there, oh no...
Jam Imanirad has spent 11 years turning his unloved Community Gateway flat into a den of art.
So unusual is the property in Harrington Street, Preston, with its multitude of lights, mosaic tiles and decorations, that it will soon be featured in a Channel Four Documentary called Britain’s Best Council House.
The 66-year-old former reporter and teacher has recently attracted media attention after a row with his landlord about additions to a communal garden outside the flat, and says the house and the garden are “part of the same picture.”
He said: “It is a painted canvas that is half on the outside and half on the inside. Half is shared with the public and the other half is kept inside my home.
“My motive? I have asked myself this question many times and I have found that there are multiple reasons. First of all I work much more with the right hemisphere of my brain than with the left part which means creativity is not something to be taken for granted but a necessity to keep me alive. But the most important reason was because I felt like I owe something to the people of Preston.
It is a painted canvas that is half on the outside and half on the inside
“Making a nice communal garden and art work on the wall for the people in this city was my way of saying thank you for all the kindness and generosity I have received. I felt like an alien at first but these people embraced my feelings, they shared their resources and they shared their love.”
Jam said before he travelled to Preston to study at the University of Central Lancashire, all he knew was a tale of Queen Victoria closing the curtains of her train as she passed through, in order not to see the poverty and misery of the people.
He said: “This was not a very positive picture in my head from Preston especially after living in large and crowded cities including Los Angles, Washington DC, Hollywood, Vienna and Tehran. But when I came to Preston, things changed.
“I fell in love with Preston. People can say bad things about Preston as much as they like. Some call it ugly, some call it a deprived city, but I don’t care, I love this place to bits and I feel very fortunate to live here.”
The artwork has been inspired by two of Jam’s favourite artists, Antoni Gaudi from Spain and Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser from Austria.
Jam met and spoke to Hundertwasser when the artist was in Salzburg, working on the facade of some tired buildings.
Jam said: “I loved the way that he could use his imagination and bring it to reality.
“There are elements of a child’s mentality that make it so innocent and we have no option but to love it.”
Another example of Jam’s work can be seen on the wall of Coco’s in Friargate, Preston, depicting musician Bob Marley.