An Iranian artist is coming to Durham this month as part of a campaign to highlight his country’s culture – and save its only private gallery in existence.
Hassan Meshkinfam has been invited to exhibit his art at Grey College, which is part of Durham University, and talk about his struggles to keep open the unique visual art museum he founded in his hometown of Shiraz.
The Meshkinfam Museum of Art features treasures such as paintings, photographs, sculpture and calligraphy by Iranian artists from over the past 200 years.
It is the first, and only, private art museum in Iran, and Hassan runs it without outside support.
The 59-year-old, a well-known painter and photographer in his country, shows contemporary art there too, including his own work.
Among the examples he will be bringing over to Durham will be illustrations inspired by late Iranian poet Nima Yushij, who is said to have been the father of modern Persian poetry.
The work will be for sale to raise funds for the museum and the artist, who also teaches painting, said: “I am delighted to be invited. The exhibitions at Grey College have gained an international reputation over the past few years and I look forward to meeting people interested in finding out about Iranian culture.”
He has been invited by Henry Dyson, keeper of fine art at Durham University, who said: “As well as being a wonderful artist, Hassan Meshkinfam is dedicated to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Shiraz, a city regarded as the cultural capital of Iran.
“The Meshkinfam Museum is a unique and monumental effort by him, reflecting his dedication to the art and cultural identity of his homeland. Sadly, it will close unless finances are raised.”
The museum costs £100 a week to run. The average wage in the country is £200 a month so Mr Meshkinfam charges the equivalent of only 20p entry.
Mr Meshkinfam will give a free talk in the Grey College senior common room at 7.30pm on February 19 and his exhibition, The Poetry Inspired Years, will be open on weekends and by appointment mid-week from February 15 until March 2.