Elnaz Nourizadeh on growing up in Iran, ceramics and moving to Melbourne.

When did you start the ceramic journey, and any reason why? Did anyone inspire you?

I am unsure if my ceramic journey started with my ceramic classes when I was 12 or before. My dad bought a piece of land in Hamedan (the city of potters in Iran) when I was 5. Once he went there, he bought me a bag of clay and I started to play with that bag of clay on our house balcony. That was when the ceramic seed was planted in me.

My parents were both creative. They had their own business, making unique handmade lampshades. My inspiration was seeing them working with their hands and creating something beautiful from simple materials like fabric and metal rods. Even though I didn't realise it then, I can see how they worked hard and achieved much. They inspired me to spend time on what I love.


Elnaz Nourizadeh Studio

Did you have a side job when you first started, or has it been all ceramics from the get-go?

I started to work when I was 18, even though it was very unusual for a girl to work at that time back in Iran.

I used to teach math privately to two elementary students after school. I also helped my parents before the new year when they had a large number of commissions. My parents always paid us for our time. When I was 22, I started to teach at my ceramic mentor's studio after getting my wheel throwing certificate.
That was the time I started to spend most of my time making and teaching ceramics.


What brought you to Melbourne, and how long have you been here? Do you like it?

Melbourne is exceptional; I absolutely love it.

My partner moved to Brisbane in 2011; he was my boyfriend at that time. After he finished his master degree in Brisbane, he asked me if I would like to move to Australia. As I didn't know anything about Australia, I searched for ceramic markets in Australia, and I found out about the Warrandyte pottery expo. So, I told him "If you move to Melbourne, I will come". He found a job in Melbourne and moved; we married; in less than a year. I moved to Melbourne in 2013.


 How was the support for your ceramics at the beginning?

Very strong from my parents' side and painful from others.

In the beginning, it was effortless as everyone was thinking that it was only a summer art class and they loved my work. I won the first prize in a council art show in my last year of secondary school. As I grew up and spent more time in my mentor's studio, my friend started to show reactions. Travelling alone around the city, especially some of Tehran's suburbs, was entirely unusual for a young girl to go. After a while, all negative vibes started to grow in our family.

However, my parents were supportive; we couldn't win the flight to study art and continue my pottery. I had to choose a math field in high school and studied industrial design at university.


Pottery aside, after speaking to you on our video call, I noticed you have a beautiful aura. So, what keeps you grounded?

In short, I love listening to audiobooks, stand-up comedians and walking in nature. I'm interested in relationships and connections between things, anything.

I would like to describe myself as an Experimental based person, not a results base. That helps me to pay attention to details and stay grounded. I can see everything is a harmony of matters working together. Life is not about me or anything else. I firmly believe attention is the most valuable thing we have in life, not time. So, my aim is to pay attention as much as I can to anything.


What are some groovy places/suburbs you like to visit in Iran?

Iran is a beautiful country. I'm not sure how things have changed after these years. I would like to go to Hormoz Island and Tabriz one more time, at least in my life.


What are your favourite Iranian dishes/recipes? 

There are many, but the top two are:

  • Kou Kou Sabzi, which is a kind of thin frittata only with herbs and egg 
  • Khoresht e Bademjan is an eggplant stew.

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