In November Guido Van Helten and Fintan Magee travelled to Tehran, the capital city of Iran. This was the first time foreign artists had been commissioned to work in the country. The work marks the 50th year anniversary of the opening of the Australian Embassy in Iran and the project unfortunately started on the day Donald trump’s sanctions came into place, marking new tension between the US and Middle Eastern country.
Mural artwork in Tehran has been prolific since the revolution of 1979. Many of the murals in the city address political themes and are often propagandistic. Murals of fallen martyrs, images from the Iran-Iraq war and portraits of political leaders sit alongside contemporary and conceptual public murals. The artists aim in this work was to subvert some of the Iranian mural traditions and instead focus on painting from the life of everyday working people.
For the work the artists explored Persian Carpet making, it’s distribution and its symbolic place within Persian culture.
This mural is based on images of two carpet repairmen working in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar. Persian carpets are famous world wide for their quality and craftsmanship. Then men work 8-10 hours each day rethreading and stitching old and damaged carpets, the repetitive work requires incredible hand skills and speed. This painting pays homage to the dignity of hard work while putting a human face to an important aspect of craft and culture in Persia.
The painting ‘The Carpet Repairmen’ also act’s as a broader metaphor for working life in Iran. Decades of economic sanctions and blockades on imports and have meant that people have to be resourceful in the country. Reusing, repairing and recycling products has become a necessity. Showing the resilience of the Iranian people and how life goes on in this hospitable, welcoming and ancient culture.