Select public comments on the exhibition
Some of the more poignant comments clearly reveal the exhibition's ability to stimulate wide responses from a diversity of individuals within both the broad Australian and international communities.
"Effy Alexakis'...series of documentary portraits of Greek subjects,
either born in Greece or Australia, exploring their experiences of
migration. Each photograph is succinctly captioned by Alexakis'
collaborator, Leonard Janiszewski, and consistently reveals the complex
realities of transmigration.
There is a consistent humanity in Alexakis' photographs, coupled to
outstanding craft. Her photographs are never of the subject merely
placed against an appropriate background. Quality of light appears
crucially important to this photographer, as is her sympathy for the
body language of her subjects. There is also a little of the great
Magnum photographer Constantine Manos in her capacity to embrace the
Greekness of herself and her subjects. Manos struggled and ultimately
succeeded in coming to terms with his ancestry in his book A Greek
Portfolio. Alexakis ploughs a similar field with equal dignity."
Sydney Morning Herald, Photography Critic, NSW
"The photographs and interviews form a poignant account of the effects
of return migration on cultural identity, and the difficult decision
these people have had to face in deciding where home is. Many of the
people Alexakis and Janiszewski interviewed have spent their lives
searching for a 'here and there'."
Australian Centre for Photography, NSW
"Wonderful! Very moving - and real connection between photographs and
text. Whole human lives framed and captured...brought back memories for
me of Kythera, the haunting beauty, the sadness of the rocks and
stones, part of which went into my novel Messages From Chaos.
Susan Johnson, NSW
"Once I arrived at In Their Own Image, I drifted past a sea of Greek
faces, fixed in photographs; I was moved to tears. After two hours of
looking at the devastation and pleasures of migration and what it means
in particular to be of Greek heritage in Australia, I was emotionally
exhausted...People who came here believed in hope, to an extent that
most would never understand. The exhibition is a testament to this...it
makes us look into our own and our parents faces...Having been born
here and never having lived in another country, I still can't say I have
found my home."
Alexandra Pitsis, Real Time, Art Critic
"It is wonderful photography. Very heart rendering. It adds a lot to the phrase "Who am I?"
A. Conway, NSW
"I cried. What has been expressed in words by these people is exactly
what I feel from within. Absolutely wonderful to see it all captured so
brilliantly in pictures and words."
Anastasia Potiris, SA
"This fascinating exhibition should be seen by everyone (whether Greek or not)!"
K. Dalton, WA
"With tear-filled eyes I went from photo to photo, story to story and I re-lived the migration. Thank you for that experience."
Helen Galanis, SA
"Wonderful exhibition. Moved me to tears. Thank God for the Greeks in
our society. I don't think we realise the pain involved in migration."
Margaret Cloonan, WA
"I had to stop and think and reflect about Greek culture in Australia
and Greece - great. This was a wonderful medium to present ideas and
images about our Greekness which I was able to relate to. Well done!"
Giorgos Galanis, SA
"Bringing my mother here reduced her to tears after translating the text
to your accompanying fabulous photos. Shared experiences and familiar
stories. She asked only one thing of me....Please don't forget!"
Kaliopi Konas, NSW
"A simply enlightening experience. So incredibly worthy of praise. I
do not know where to begin. Moved to tears by some of the people and
their incredible life journeys. i never thought it would be possible,
it has made my passion and respect for Greece stronger and brighter.
Thank you to all those people who shared their stories and journeys with
us. They awoke every sense in my body."
Emmi M. Kedakis, NSW
'Encore! Absolutely fantastic exhibition! The portrayal of the Greek
contribution to our Australian society helps us all to appreciate one
another - our trials and our strengths, and enables us to live in
Al & Jasmine Antonious, NSW
"A breath of fresh air. Refreshing cultivation of transitory facts of dual cultures."
Anastasia Toumbas, WA
"Appreciated the photography in particular. It brings home the dilemmas
of migration - 'missing out' in the new country and grieving for the
Edith Hemriel, SA
"The photographs show the irreversible issues of migration - the loss
and grief etc., how some people cope really well and how old people
still retain strongly those past dreams and hopes."
"I found I was able unable to see it all 'in one hit' because
emotionally it was too overwhelming and I had to end up seeing it
piecemeal, 'bit by bit'. I loved it."
Arthur Giannopoulos, SA
"A very poignant exhibition. Some very clear images of the lives people
have lived which are captured in their faces. There are some I won't
forget: Ilias Fountis and his wife Anna, Nicholas Pappas, Ekaterina
Karvouni, Cassie Kostopolous; just to name a few which held my
attention. I got a shock of the hardship many people still living or
having returned to Greece experienced. The photos are full of conflict.
I was also impressed by the funeral photo and the depiction of the
ghost towns. I was impressed with the whole collection and hope to
return to see it many times. Please excuse the length of this comment,
but I received much from viewing this collection - many memories
Corola Berger, SA
"It's a fine line between 'being' and 'becoming'. It's sad that so
often politics or religion that prevents us from living the life that we
all should be entitled to. Thank you."
David Richards, SA
"Thank you, thank you, thank you wonderful people for putting us up on
the wall in positive images instead of always identifying Greeks with
'Classical' images or 1821 heroes!!"
Olga Karatsinidis, SA
"A powerful visual story!"
L. Baver, Singapore
"A fantastic and deeply moving exhibition. I have often yearned for
something like this. The photos are inspirational! The exhibition is a
credit to all who contributed."
Elly Symons (nee Agrotis)
"Congratulations! This is my second visit...I just had to bring my Year
11 Modern Greek class to see it. Thank you for giving us all the
opportunity to appreciate the contribution."
"A soul-searching experience. Thank you. My father and other relatives in the prints. I love Australia and I love Greece."
Mary Livissianas, ACT
"Excellent and very moving. I think many migrants have had and are
having the same experience. Very interesting to look at the three
strands - those who decided to stay in Greece, those who decided to stay
here, and the effects on the original islands."
Claire Souleles, WA
"Learn more about Australian history every day. Great Exhibition!"
Karen Hindmarsh, England
"EVA! What a GREAT STORY you have told! I hope it inspires further works."
Elizabeth Tsiprou, NSW
"This truly great exhibition is dispelling many myths."
Nick Andristakis, NSW
"A brilliant exhibition - has made me feel very emotional too - and has
helped me identify some of the struggles my Greek-Australian parents
have faced, and that I too continue to face in defining my cultural
Helen Kargelos, NSW
"My grandfather migrated from Kastellorizo in 1913, but when he died I
was too young to have known his stories and their meanings. So, for me,
it is interesting, poignant, to read/see expressions of experience of
searching for what is Greek. Some of my identity is Greek, I suppose,
but very buried. It is interesting to see an exhibition which deals
with these themes."
Damian Lucas, WA
"A really nice display and a nice way to find out about the hardships
and good things that go with the migrant life. I've tried it myself - to
live and adjust to a European country after being born on this side of
J. Neare, WA
"Splendid and timely for cultural and academic reasons."
Dr Nina Mistilis, NSW
"What a sight! I wish my father was here to see it. He died two years
ago at the age of 90. He was one of the first Kazzies here in Sydney.
His name was Con Elliott. Thank you for a lovely exhibition."
Irene Dimarchos, NSW
"Absolutely brilliant exhibition! The photos and corresponding
notes/words/stories tell us so much about the Greek contribution to
Australia. As a Skip (British-Australian background) married to a
Greek-Australian it has shown me something of a heritage she and all
Greek-Australians can be very proud of. Well done!"
Paul Gildin, NSW
"Brilliant. It's captured the essence of Greek migration and settlement experience in Australia."
Martina Simos, WA
"Wonderful collection of photos and images reflecting the culture,
together with the many stresses that have been placed on this culture. I
believe it deserves all the publicity it can get! Well done
organisers! Great Vision!!!"
Jane Graynor, SA
"A wonderful exhibition. Splendidly presented. Congratulations!"
Julie Marcus, NSW
"I must say that the curators and the State Library have produced a most
beautiful presentation of one of the most fascinating and wonderful
cultures ever to grace the earth. It is a culture that has no equal and
is beautiful in every aspect. The State Library should be proud that
they have introduced such a beautiful perspective on Greek-Australians
to the public, who may not have had the privilege to witness anything so
C. McDermott, NSW
"Wonderful exhibition. Learnt more in this exhibition than from other sources. Helps to understand a immigrant's life."
H. & D. White, USA
"Great to see the Greek spirit overcoming adversity."
J. Dowling, NT
"Wonderful over-view of Greek life in Australia, and such a massive
display of photographs - it must have taken years to collect!"
R. Collins, NT
"Great! At last a true picture of Greek migration - very moving! Hope it is permanently housed here!"
Sofia Zimopoulos, SA
"Revealing! Exposing the cross-sections of different Greek 'cultures'
in Australia. Was concise and astonishing. Well done people!"
Peter Thiris, WA
"Beautiful people. God bless the Greeks, Aboriginals, all races that
make this country great! Goodwill to all men and women - reconciliation
towards an enlightened 2000!"
D. Jarro & M.V. Jambadgee, SA
"Was amazed at how long the Greek influence has been in Australia. What an indictment on us (that) they still feel alienated."
R. D. Johnson, WA
"I spent close to an hour looking at the photographs. Never have seen
any race which has such a rich culture and social diversity. It made me
think. Congratulations on changing my perceptions of such a large
Hesham Rastan, SA
"So - it is acceptable for Greeks to racially vilify - 'Nicholas Pepper
Taifalos' (photo and caption). As an Anglo-Saxon Australian I strongly
object to his quotation being publicly exhibited."
Cynthia Lomas, WA
"Excellent photos - the feelings expressed are identical to those felt/thought by all non-Australians living here."
Barbara Quinn, WA
"It's great to see such recognition paid to the Greeks - having such a
large percentage of the community. This is what Australia is about -
Multiculturalism and diversity!"
Saghar Aberfeyler, SA
"Interesting to see the early Greek-Australians. Hadn't realised that
so many had played a part in Australia's past - my grandfather among
Julie Cardiff, NT
"Poignant - the feeling of loving two countries and having to choose only one."
S. Economou, WA
"An emotional experience for an old Aussie."
Helen Smith, WA
"Excellent. Interesting isn't it? I wonder how many Anglo wog bashers
can be so sure they don't contain a drop of ethnic blood."
Tony Mansfield, SA
"Australia open your eyes - we are truly diverse. Appreciate this or perish! Excellent exhibition challenging stereotypes."
"I am not Greek but have lived on/off in Greece for 17 years. I am
still adjusting to living in Australia and it is very moving to read
about others, who although (they) are not in exactly the same situation,
their thoughts on living in a different land (are). Thank you for this
Melanie Lyan, WA
"Thanking those who spent many hours in researching and putting together
this very wonderful exhibition. It has brought back a flood of
memories for some of us and a deeper understanding for the younger ones.
Well done! It has given us great pride!"
Pashalidis family, NT
"As a Greek-Australian and a keen photographer I was obviously very
moved today. At first I was looking only at the photographs, trying to
avoid the pain behind them. It reminded me of how many families
(including mine) have suffered in order to give their children better
Bill Farmatidis, NSW
"Thank you for helping me remember how proud I should be to be Greek-Australian."
Nicholas Angelopoulos, NSW
"Wonderful photography. Insightful script. Amazing to see my heritage
back to the 1830s. A moving and sobering experience. Thank you for
Louise Kelley, NSW
"Very moving - all as I was told by my parents. My father's last words
as he lay dying was to say how terribly they were treated when they
first came to these shores, and yet he came to love Australia - a true
Greek and a true Australian."
Jasmine Kailis, WA
"Why is Pauline Hanson against multiculturalism?"
Alex Diamantis, SA
"Terrific exhibition! Pauline H. eat your heart out!"
John Zafer , SA
"Interesting, Greeks came (out) as early (as the) 1800s. Could be many
more Australians have a Greek background. Proud to be a Greek Aussie. I
was two when we left the 'Old Country'."
George Koutsamanis, SA
"Makes me understand why Asians stick together now!! Sense of identity."
Jack Mahmud, SA
"Such faces of struggle, hope and quiet faith."
Peter Paroulakis, NT
"This is a great display which shows the overt racism which was (and still is) part of this country."
A. Valuogelakis, SA
"Congratulations for your original work. Through it we learnt about the
first Greeks who settled in the new Continent. Our warmest thanks.
Your work is a masterpiece. Congratulations again!"
Tassos Panoyiotides & family
"Effy Alexakis, a renowned photographer, whose work has inspired so many Hellenes around the world - the work is great!"
V. Haridopolou, Thessaloniki
"This incredible exhibition must tour Greece! It is important for all
Greeks to understand the hardships, disappointments and successes of a
major part of the Greek Diaspora, and in doing so understand the global
diversity yet underlying cultural unity of Hellenism! Congratulations
on a magnificent undertaking. You are doing Greece and
Betty G. Ieremiadis (Committee of the Australian-Greek Association of Northern Greece), Thessaloniki
"A very interesting exhibition and a strange experience being a migrant,
and seeing my homeland through the eyes of others in the same
Chris Rutherford (from Albury, NSW), Thessaloniki
"Congratulations. So many memories and emotions since I too left as a
young child for Melbourne in 1964. I too feel I don't belong in
Australia or here in Greece."
E. Tsimou, Thessaloniki
"Whoever looks at these photographs remembers their own personal story.
Perhaps, it seems, that the Greeks from there (Australia) love our
'patrida' more than those who remained (in Greece)."
S. Christos, Thessaloniki
"It's amazing to realize the development of the Greek-Australians. What
a interesting persistent struggle to settle down. A marvellous
collection and greatly informative exhibition."
"The exhibition is an interesting look at the problems of being a Greek-Australian. Warmest congratulations!"
E. Georgantely, Thessaloniki
"Congratulations on a fine collection of photographs and very informative notes."
Tom Petsinis (from Melbourne), Thessaloniki
"Loved the exhibition, fine work, and loved it all the more because I
spotted my grandfather holding my infant mother at a picnic in Perth in
1906! What an unexpected and superb surprise."
Irini Pappas (from Melbourne), Thessaloniki