Pensioner who spent funeral savings to plant suburban oasis has now created Britain’s best council house filled with mosaic walls
A pensioner ordered to stop gardening after creating a suburban oasis for neighbours has turned his talents indoors – and turned his home into Britain’s best council house.
Former teacher Jam Imani Rad, 66, spent 35,000 of his own money transforming the area outside his home into a communal garden.
He installed statues, trellises and stone structures for neighbours to enjoy – but fell foul of his housing association who said he had no permission for the mini oasis.
Undeterred, Jam decided to do up his flat and has filled it with stunning mosaics and bright colours.
His home in Preston, Lancs., is now in contention for Britain’s Best Council House when he takes part in a Channel 4 programme of the same name in the new year.
Jam, who has spent 11 years on his interior decorations, said: “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.
“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.”
Jam‘s artwork has been inspired by two of his favourite artists, Spanish designer and architect Antoni Gaudi and Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
He met Hundertwasser when the artist was working on buidlings in Salzburg, Austria.
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.”
Jam arrived in Preston to study at the University of Central Lancashire, but admitted all he previously knew about the city was a tale about Queen Victoria closing the curtains on her train as she passed through the city to avoid the poverty and misery of the residents.
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.”
Jam has also created a mural of musician Bob Marley in Friargate, in Preston city centre.