News People Syrian refugee carves out dream job in Sydney

Syrian refugee carves out dream job in Sydney

Avedik Bayramian
Avedik Bayramian's silversmith shop was destroyed during the Syrian civil war. Photo: ABC
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On the bustling streets of Aleppo in Syria, the name Avedik Bayramian was a hallmark for quality craftsmanship in silverware.

He comes from a long line of Armenian silversmiths stretching back to his great-grandfather.

But for nearly two years he has struggled to find work in his highly-specialised field in Australia after arriving as a refugee from the civil war.

Now, he has landed his dream job, working for the last traditional manufacturing silversmith in Australia.

“I was lucky to find this job which I love,” Mr Bayramian, speaking through an Armenian interpreter, said.

“I am so thankful to Dennis.”

Dennis De Muth is the owner of W.J. Sanders, a company founded by an immigrant British silversmith in 1911.

Mr De Muth was quick to appreciate the skills of the man he called “Avo” when he knocked on his door looking for a job.

“His work is absolutely beautiful,” he said.

“He will bring new skills. We’ve got one new apprentice and two older apprentices and he’ll be able to teach them new things.”

The rambling Sydney workshop is crammed with antiques and pieces of silverware awaiting restoration.

On one bench sits the partially engraved bowl that will become next year’s Australian Open tennis trophy.

“You can see the repousse work on that, that is very much the type of work that Avo does,” Mr De Muth said.

silversmith close up
Silversmith Avedik Bayramian honed his craft at his uncle’s workshop in Aleppo in Syria. Photo: ABC

Importance of passing on skills

From the age of 14, Mr Bayramian honed his craft working at his uncle’s workshop in Aleppo.

In 2002, he opened his own shop, only to see it destroyed as the city came under siege.

The family fled to Beirut before settling in Australia as refugees.

“You have no idea how difficult it is to leave our life behind and come here with nothing and find a job,” Mr Bayramian said.

“But when someone loves their work, they work hard and they will succeed.”

His younger daughter, five-year-old Lourd, is already showing signs of following in the family tradition.

“I can see that she is very talented with designing. That’s the first thing you need in this trade,” Mr Bayramian said.

Standing at his workbench, Mr Bayramian is a study in concentration.

His new boss is happy that this master craftsman’s skills will be handed on to a new generation.

“It’s really important that this business keeps going and that people like Avo teach the young people.”