I’m Zohreh from Tehran, Iran. I came by boat, arriving in Australia in 2013. Being an artist in Iran could be dangerous, as I wanted to work outside the frames set by the Government, and this, combined with my choice to not to wear the hijab, caused many problems for me.
I studied translation at university and I was a flight attendant for Iran Air for seven years. I was fired from this job when a government minister on our flight saw some of my hair was showing from under my hijab. I became depressed. I also did an exhibition that showed the female nude and this got me into trouble with the government. I had to leave to Iran.
I was in detention for 18 months, where I painted murals on the walls in the detention centre. This helped to pass the time and keep me happy.
When I was very young I was not very good or interested in art – I got good marks in all other subjects except art! But one day when I was copying a picture of flowers for an assignment, everything suddenly clicked for me and a love of painting was born.
Painting makes me feel great. It is everything for me.