Profile: Born in Uganda, Shahira moved to Vancouver with her family in 1970. While at High School in 1975, she took a Ceramics class and during that one year, spent many hours after 3pm in the pottery classroom, learning and developing her love for clay. At the end of high school, she stopped her pottery and moved on to other interests, education and travel: She did her Bachelors degree in French at Simon Fraser University and then went to live, work and study in Paris, France in 1982. At the end of 1982, she returned to University to become a French Immersion Teacher.
After practicing her profession, teaching Grade 1 French Immersion at Ross Road Elementary in North Vancouver for only a year, she moved back to Africa (this time, Kenya) with her husband, Zul Tejpar, where she worked for the Canadian High Commission as an Immigration Officer for 6 years.
After the birth of her first son Aadam, Shahira moved back home to Vancouver and soon after gave birth to her second son, Rumi. After many years, she took up pottery again and through that, she found her inner artist.
She has now been “potting” part time for the past 12 years (since 1996), unwinding from her other full time life of Immigration Consulting, parenting, sports, etc. At present, she is a member at Aberthau, a pottery studio (in the West Side, near Jericho Beach), where she focuses mainly on “wheel” thrown, functional pottery.
She travels frequently, plays competitive, A Level squash, in the City League and Tournaments and recently represented Canada (for Women’s Squash) in the Golden Jubilee Games, held in Kenya. She also loves to cycle, wind-surf and ski. Occasionally, she paints with acrylics.
She has exhibited and sold her pottery at various exhibitions and venues in Vancouver, such as the Roundhouse Community Centre, the Burnaby Arts Council, the Aga Khan Education Board, the Surrey Arts Centre, the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, private sales & the Bean Town Coffee House in Dunbar, Vancouver.
She has appeared on CBC Radio Canada, CBC Television’s “The Hour” with George Strombolopolis and Chanel M’s “Hello Ji”, either for her pottery, other interviews or for her views on Immigration .
She strives for balance in her life, trying to be “fully engaged” with her children and family, work, sports and fitness, community and faith, and last but not least, her artistic endeavours.
Artist’s Statement: “Pottery is a form of therapy…..it is a wonderful release and escape from the fast-paced, technologically driven, day to day trials and tribulations of work, and doing the ‘have-to’s’… it gives me great pleasure to momentarily escape into childhood and simply play with earth, bringing form to a mound of clay, creating perfect and sometimes not so perfect symmetry….A ball of clay, like the planet earth, spins on its axis (the wheel), and from it, rises a multitude of possibilities, of all shapes, sizes and colors. If handled incorrectly, it flops and disasters happen. But, if nurtured, the ball of clay transforms into a thing of beauty, with shape, purpose and grace.”
“Occasionally, I incorporate Chinese brush painting into my pottery, but now, having done an Arabic calligraphy workshop, I would like to incorporate more Arabic and Gujerati script and calligraphy into my pottery, as decorative features, thus reflecting more who I am…a pot pourri of cultures, languages, influences, ideas and values.”
Artist Short Form at this site: SP-T
Simerg Gallery of Shahira Patni-Tejpar:
Shahira Patni-Tejpar: “Chai Time” and “Lapis Lazuli Free Fall”