A DARLINGTON businessman can be revealed today as an accomplished Kurdish artist who fled Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime.

Fine artist and sculptor Mariwan Abdullah came to the UK to avoid persecution after his illustrations for a political newspaper attracted the ire of government forces.

Speaking about his past, he said: “I fled because I was an artist and then, if you were not with the government, there was a problem and I wasn’t – I was the opposite.

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“At the time, it was very bad for people with all of the fighting and it was very difficult for my friends and family.

“My art is inspired by it – I do it for the people and it’s about hope, making a nice life and allowing other people to have a nice life.”

Mr Abdullah, 32, now runs the Longfield Road Car Wash in Darlington and hopes to establish himself as an artist in the town where he settled three years ago.

However, he says cramped living arrangements and a lack of creative spaces in Darlington have left him without a suitable place to work and struggling to get a footing in the North-East art world.

He is now urging the town’s council and residents to get behind its creative community and do more to support the arts.

He said: “I’ve exhibited my work all over the world but not in Darlington. I was on the waiting list for the Arts Centre but now that’s closed and I have no place to put my work and no space to do it.

“It would be great to have a big community art gallery in the town centre because art is for everyone and the town needs to do more to bring the arts to everybody.

“I’d like to share my work, meet some like-minded artists and find somewhere that I could do my work for a couple of hours a day.”

Mr Abdullah works with a variety of mediums, creating striking and colourful pieces with recycled material including soap, wax, wood and metal.

Anyone who would like to contact him about his artwork or who could offer him a space to work in for around five to ten hours a week can email sculpture78@gmail.com