Painting the promise of a new future as a tree adorned with hope is how Iranian-born artist Hadieh Afshani can best describe her new roots in Australia and the journey that brought her here.
Despite the repressions of a remembered past and an uncertain present, there is a glittering positivity in her work – one that she believes speaks for so many who have been displaced by geography, culture and politics.
The Queensland College of Art Doctoral candidate and lecturer will display a collection of oil paintings and drawings spanning three years of her work in an exhibition at the QCA’s South Bank campus from May 20.
Hadieh describes herself as a “woman with an eastern-poetic view of my experiences” and says she started to explore her life through art from an early age.
She then used this visual diary of work to continually reflect upon and build her story – one of immigration, people, place and emotion.
“The feelings involved are not merely about a journey from one place to another,” she explains.
“In reality it becomes a journey of identity, replacement from the familiar and the process of finding one’s self in a new and unknown place.
“What I find truly incredible throughout this journey is the part within our human psychology that keeps us hopeful despite the time of loss and great change.”
Since leaving Tehran and arriving in Australia in 2006, the 31-year-old completed a Master of Visual Arts at the QCA, followed by an Honours Degree, and is now working towards her Doctorate while she lectures to fellow students in Fine Art.
This world seems a far cry from the family of engineers she was born in to, yet she saw a creative side to her parents that she believes is now deeply in her blood.
“In their spare time my mother painted and my father was a poet, but I think they always viewed these types of things as hobbies, so when I expressed my desire to become an artist they encouraged me to consider engineering instead!
“But they saw that it was my passion and have supported me even though it may not make as much sense to them as it does to me,” she says.
As a practicing artist, it is within Australia that she now sees a real hope and a “more productive future” than the one on offer in her homeland of Iran.
Of course, immigration to a completely new culture is not without its challenges, but Hadieh explains her recipe for success in a few simple, yet profound words.
“People are people everywhere – so if you are honest, positive, humble and do the best you can – you will be welcomed anywhere you go.”
Hope Tree: An exhibition by Hadieh Afshani will run at the Queensland College of Art Project Gallery, located on the ground floor of the Webb Centre at 140 Grey Street, South Brisbane, from 10am to 5pm Tuesday 20 May to Friday 30 May.
Hadieh will also present a hands-on watercolour workshop for beginners at the Queensland Art Gallery on Sunday 18 May from 11am – 2pm, drawing inspiration from the now running ‘Transparent: Watercolour in Queensland 1850s -1980s’ exhibition.
For more information visit the QAG website.
MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Marino, 0418 799 544.