calling myself – ARTIST

Nazanin_photoStepping fully into my artistic path has been quite a journey these past few years. Since starting full-time teaching in 2007 followed closely with major life events of marriage and children, my art practice felt like it was a thing of the past. I had no proper studio set up and whilst I always kept art journals even that came to an end.

The turning point…
In 2014 we moved out of our apartment in Dulwich Hill and into a beautiful home in the Hawkesbury. As I was packing away my art things I realised that despite thinking I had nothing to show for myself for the past 7 years I discovered that I had in fact produced a sizable collection of works, in-between marriage, teaching and babies! So I decided to have my first solo exhibition before we left the trendy Inner West. In August, despite the mayhem of moving, I put together a survey show of the major bodies of work I had created since University called Reflections at the StirrUp Gallery, Marrickville. I remember sitting in the gallery surrounded by my artworks; by the output of my inner workings; by the stories that have shaped all the work I have done; by the beautiful way that the artworks I created related so specifically to times and places in my life and I knew then that I needed to bring art back into the foreground of my life. Maintaining my practice needed to be on top of the ‘to do list’.

I recall in this transitional period of ‘sorting myself out’ as an artist I still struggled to tell people that I am an ‘artist’, like many artists I know there is a reluctance to take on board the title. However, meeting Monica Davidson from Creative + Business was the catalyst for a real shift in self-belief and creating my identity as an artist. She was also my business mentor for a while and my time with her really helped to form a solid foundation for the work I wanted to step into. I love how the universe answers your call!

In 2015 I made a conscience decision to take a sabbatical year off teaching and focus my attention on balancing my art making with motherhood. And what a year it was! I was a finalist in the Blacktown Arts Prize and the Hawkesbury Art Prize. I was also a member of the Macquarie Towns Art Society and participated in many exhibitions with them. I had several other group exhibitions, one in Rome and quite a few around Sydney (see my CV for details), I established the Iranian Women Visual Artists Collective- Australia  (IWVAC-Australia) and launched the collective with an exhibition at 107 Projects called In Transit. We had a shared studio in Cre8tiv Studios, St Leonards where we worked and had regular meetings. We were involved in the Crows Nest Festival, ran open studio days and workshops. Doing all of this with two toddlers in tow! I set up a ‘kids corner’ in the studio and we all got creating together.

2016 has been insane! I went back to teaching part time and artistically speaking the year started with a joint exhibition with a dear friend Negin Chahoud, Spirit Sisters, followed by the Iranian Art & Craft Exhibition | Norouz Celebration in March which was a sold out event and attracted over 1000 people of the 4 days. It was such a huge project that I curated as part of Art Month Sydney and it was picked up by SBS World News!. Then the second IWVAC-Australia group exhibition Fragmented. I was awarded a 6-month residency with Blacktown Arts Centre which started in June and in-between I helped start a new collective called Blacktown Studio Artists Collective and we launched with an exhibition called Blank Slate at the Blacktown Tourist Information and Heritage Centre. I was in the Women’s Art Prize, and the Other Art Fair. To finish off the year, if that was not enough, I had the opportunity to work closely with one of my favourite artists, Hossein Valamanesh for the Iranica Australasia Conference: Mirrors of Iran: Reflections in a Transnational Context, at the Art Gallery NSW- another sold out event! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than this, the Minster for the Arts, Hon. Troy Grant visits my Blacktown Studio as part of the launch for the Western Sydney Arts Funding scheme for the next 2 years!

Fully accepting myself as an artist and creating space in my life to keep my artistic practice alive and my work with various collectives and organisations, panels, conferences and re-connecting with past mentors such as Jan Fieldsend, Nick Vickers and John Cheesman, and the support of Monir Rowshan from Balcktown Council and the Art Centre staff has really set me on a path I could have never imagined.  And now I have the privilege of a structured mentorship with Debbie Mackinnon, Director of Me Artspace for 2017!

What’s next….. a little bit of resting time with the family and then I welcome 2017 with open arms, open heart and limitless energy to create, and to connect with an even wider audience. Stay tuned!

art is my talking stick and my healing wand

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