Finding Community: Mahla Karimian

Mahla Karimiyan

“When I was in detention I met a lot of good artists and good friends. They were really good supporters. That’s why I could start doing artwork in Australia in a nice way, in a really positive way […] They supported me a lot even when I was in the detention centre, they brought me a lot of stuff[…] But it was hard to find the right community, because I didn’t know anything about Australia. It was completely different, different language, different place, different people, different cultures. I had to learn about it a lot.”

As a part of our Creative Lives project highlighting the work of CALD artists, Melbourne-based photographer and painter Mahla Karimian spoke with Margaret Mayhew about the support she needed and encountered while she was in detention when she arrived in Australia. Originally from Tehran, Mahla depicts traditional Persian stories through Persian miniatures etched onto scratchboards. Mahla discusses the challenges she has faced in the arts sector in Australia, and offers suggestions to create opportunities for artists from diverse backgrounds like herself.

Video by Maylei Hunt, a social documentary photographer specialising in dance and portraiture with a community and arts focus.

Interview by Margaret Mayhew, Melbourne-based academic and artist. She has a PhD in Gender and Cultural Studies as well as undergraduate degrees in Science, Visual Arts and Art History. She is a teacher, trainer, speaker, and community engagement expert.