Since migrating to Australia from Iran in 2014, Sorayya Shemirani has put down deep roots through pursuing her passions for sport and community. She tells of how a chance encounter with an art course has opened up new horizons, and connected her with her past. 

My name is Sorayya Rasouli Shemirani and I was born in Iran. At the age of 11, I was involved in a car accident that put me in a wheelchair with a T12 spinal cord injury.

I grew up in an artistic family, surrounded by colour, arts and crafts. My mother had a passion and a gift for it, but other than a little knitting and sewing, it was a world I never shared with her.

As I was maturing into who I am today, my mother was my inspiration and she patiently taught me and encouraged me to do what brought me joy in life. I finished high school and completed a Certificate IV in Accounting, working many years in that profession.

My real passion has always been sport. I was ranked number one in Iran for disabled swimming in backstroke, and was ranked second for wheelchair racing in the 100m and 400m. 


In 2014, I migrated to Australia and settled in Geelong. I was joined by my husband the following year. I tried to enter the world of accountancy in Australia but my Iranian qualifications and experience were not recognized.

I regained the qualifications I needed and have kept busy volunteering around Geelong and getting involved in projects with the NDIS and the Barwon Disability Resource Council.

My love of sport never left me. I continue to swim, and joined the Geelong Table Tennis Association where I have been an active member for five years. I am also involved with a dance group.

In 2019 I was introduced to the Rosewall Community Centre in Corio, where many activities, courses and workshops are offered. There was an art course available and I decided to join. To my complete amazement I was totally engrossed and could not get enough.

The arty juices that flowed through my mother were now flowing through me. I immediately felt a real connection to my mother. I discovered a new love – painting with acrylic. I started learning abstract painting and submitted work to an exhibition held at the Rosewall Community Centre.


When COVID-19 struck, I continued painting at home. This hobby filled my time and made it easier for me to cope through the long, lonely days of isolation.

In December 2020 an article about me was written in Humans in Geelong, a group on Facebook, and through that article I received a great amount of positive feedback. I am happy to say that because of that exposure I was able to sell one of my paintings. I have now completed a dozen or more paintings, and won’t be stopping anytime soon. 

Currently I am at home, with a private art tutor who assists me with different techniques, colour mixture methods, and other painting practices.

With her worldly artistic knowledge she’s suggested that I have an art exhibition one day, so that I can share my art with others. Her belief in my newfound artistic flair has given me confidence.

It started as hobby – but now I am thinking it could turn into a living. Fingers crossed.

  • November 7, 2022

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