Artist Mohammad Barrangi’s large-scale murals come to the streets of Leeds

We’re working with Leeds-based, Iranian-born illustrator and printmaker Mohammad Barrangi to bring four large-scale paper murals to the streets of Leeds, as part of the city’s year of culture, LEEDS 2023.

Unfortunately, due to bad weather recently, we’ve not been able to complete the install of Mohammad Barrangi’s fabulous exhibition of murals in 2023. But, don’t worry, we’ll be picking this back up in early spring 2024 when the weather is a bit warmer and drier.

Drawing from the aesthetic of Persian miniature painting and informed by his lived experience of exile and disability, Mohammad’s practice is deeply rooted in the exploration of migration, travel and freedom. Often combining Western and Eastern imagery, he creates work inspired by his heritage, Persian myths and stories, and his experience of seeking sanctuary in the UK.

The series, Last Dream, will be on display in locations across the city that trace places of meaning to Mohammad’s present life in Leeds. Beginning in a bus stop in West Park – the area in which the artist lives – the exhibition journeys via ten poster drums, across Headingley and the city centre, to a piece on Mabgate – marking the artist’s route to work – and culminates at East Street Arts’ cultural hub on St Mary’s Lane, where Mohammad’s studio is situated. Despite being shown in the city that Mohammad now calls home, the temporary nature of the paper murals, which will weather when exposed to the elements of a Yorkshire winter, is a stark reminder of the instability and fragility of the artist’s past.

Through his work, Mohammad creates an imaginary world that reimagines stories of Persian folklore – a wonderland in which the animals found in Iranian iconography coexist with humans; speaking and understanding each others’ language. The female figure is a recurring presence, rooted in the powerful influence that the artist’s mother had on his life and his belief that “all heroes are women”. Illustrations of birds in flight, which represent migration and freedom, are also a key theme in his practice.

A family trail will be available to download from our website or to pick up from locations around Leeds in December. Gather your friends and family and use the map to help you discover and explore the Last Dream artworks.

Helen Moore, Public Programme and Engagement Lead at East Street Arts, said: “Mo is an incredibly exciting and well respected artist but, more importantly, he’s part of the East Street Arts family. He is one of our valued studio holders in Patrick Studios, where we get to see the creation of his stunning artworks on a daily basis; and he is the artist behind ‘Living in a Wonderland’, the beautifully crafted and extremely popular family room in our Art Hostel. So, we’re absolutely thrilled to be working with Mo to share his powerful work on a larger scale and to a larger audience in the city he now calls home.”

Mohammad Barrangi said “This project is very important to me because Leeds is very important to me. I am so happy to be able to share my artwork with the city, just as the city has shared itself with me. I also want to invite you to visit Iran by looking at my artwork – my work is about my life and comes from my soul; it’s a combination of Eastern imagery and stories, merged with elements from classical Western paintings. I am grateful to East Street Arts for the opportunity to welcome you into my world.”

Emma Beverley, Director of Programmes at LEEDS 2023, said: “We can’t wait to see Mohammad Barrangi’s new murals unveiled. This is the final edition in a series of three new murals as part of East Street Arts’ award-winning ‘A City Less Grey’ programme, which we have had the privilege of partnering on for LEEDS 2023. Mohammad’s mural, along with the other amazing artist contributions for A City Less Grey, will provide a special legacy from the year of culture that residents and passersby will be able to enjoy for many years to come.”

The murals are the latest in East Street Arts’ award-winning ‘A City Less Grey’ series which brings new and unique artwork to the streets and neighbourhoods of Leeds. Mohammad’s artworks sit alongside pieces across the city including Add Fuel’s Burmantofts Pottery-inspired mural ‘ECHOES’ on Mabgate, and Rhian Kempadoo-Millar’s ‘Reflections of Carnival’ mural in Chapeltown which celebrates the rich history of Leeds West Indian Carnival, both of which were also commissioned as part of LEEDS 2023.

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