I was born in Tabriz, Persia on the 11th June 1941 and christened “Roswitha”, because my parents liked the name, “Christine”, after my paternal grandmother, and “Leila”, my Persian name.
In 1949 my mother, my siblings and I joined my father in Sydney. Initially we lived in the slum area of Surry Hills in a terrace house together with three Maltese guys, before my father purchased a double block of land in Wahroonga where we built a house, the whole family being involved.
We lived in a hut my father had built from packing cases in which European cars were transported to Australia. It was a simple existence - cooking on an open fire and bathing in the creek with an occasional bath at neighbours’. My sister and I both went to a convent school and after leaving school I joined a photographic studio. Some years later I took up the study of pottery.
After completing my studies, I worked for a year at a pottery in Mittagong before joining a potter in Suffolk, England. I then worked in a pottery in London before returning home via a field trip with the Smithsonian in Pakistan.
My father had died and my mother was very ill with cancer. After she died, I purchased a dilapidated terrace house in Paddington which was regarded as a slum in those days, but I liked the location and could see its potential. I built a pottery there with a gas kiln in the back yard with the help of an Australia Council Grant, which served me well for many years.
To supplement my income I was teaching pottery, first part time and later full time, first at St George TAFE and later at the National Art School, where I eventually became head of the Ceramics Department. At the same time I was developing my skills as a potter with regular exhibitions.
When I came to St George, all the kilns were broken, so another teacher and I built a series of woodfiring kilns in the yard. I learned all about wood firing during this time and fell in love with the results. While teaching there and later the National Art School, I would fire many of my pots in the woodfiring kilns, so that when I was planning to retire, I realised that I needed a larger studio than the one in Paddington so that I could continue firing with wood.
I purchased a house in Botany and set up a large studio with three kilns - woodfiring, gas and electric. As well as the spacious working environment, it has a bespoke showroom.
As well as my passion for pottery, I have taken up choral singing and sing with a number of choirs both in Sydney and overseas. I love to travel and generally plan my overseas trips around a singing event as well as visiting my niece Monica who used to live with me as a teenager and is like a daughter to me.
Dr. Pedram Khosronejad | Adjunct Professor
Religion and Society Research Cluster | Western Sydney University
Fellow | Department of Anthropology | Harvard University
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