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City of Whittlesea celebrates diversity

The 2017 New Beginnings Art Exhibition features a record number of artists, including six of Greek descent

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Exhibiting artist Dorothy Poulopoulos with her entry 'An Australian Story'. Photos: Supplied

01 December 2017

Over 120 local artists proudly stood tall as their art was showcased in the City of Whittlesea's annual art exhibition officially opened by Mayor Kris Pavlidis on Wednesday.

Now in its 12th year, for 2017 the theme is New Beginnings, giving local artists connected with the area the creative freedom to ponder possibilities and interpret and respond in the medium of their choice resulting in a rich tapestry of works.

"Some people used New Beginnings to talk on a personal level about their families such as children growing up and moving on as young adults in the world. For other people it was about when they might have recently moved home or new beginnings in Australia if they've migrated from another country. While for new communities, there were works related to practising their culture in the Australian landscape," Sandy Caldow, City of Whittlesea's Cultural Collection Co-ordinator, told Neos Kosmos.

Within and Without 1-11 by Artists from Queens Lodge (LHS series and Centre image – 'Break Free' by Sharyn Atkinson).

The exhibition has something for everyone, featuring painting and drawing, collage, photography, and sculpture.

Meanwhile it goes a long way in highlighting the area's cultural diversity, with artists from a variety of backgrounds including Greek, Turkish, Italian, Aboriginal, African, and Iraqi to name a few.

Six Greek Australian artists were selected to take part, including Perry Mitronatsios, Catherine Koukmenides, Maria Carassellos, and Dorothy Poulopoulos, for whom the exhibition is somewhat of a family affair, exhibiting her work alongside that of her two sons Demetrius, 13, and Stephan, 10.

"It's wonderful," Dorothy told Neos Kosmos of the experience.

"My children have always loved drawing. Demetrius won't go to sleep without drawing something, it's his downtime and his choice of expression. And Stefan as well, it's something he enjoys doing alongside his brother. So I'm really happy that they have the opportunity to share that and to feel valued for what they do in terms of artistic expression."

Dorothy's entry is a work that compliments a recently published poem of hers titled An Australian Story (Dad's Story), which delves into the reasons her father decided to migrate to Australia from Greece. Her art exhibition entry features photos of three items from her father's original hometown of Petritsi near Pylos, including a hinge from an old door, marbles, and a piece of stone from his house.

Over 200 people were in attendance at the exhibition launch in South Morang, including the artists and their families.

"It was a real celebration of the artists who live in this area, and also of their diverse cultures, their different ages, and of course of the beautiful art works that they make in many mediums," Ms Caldow said.

Councillor Pavlidis welcomed those in attendance, and talked about the significance of the art works, their stories, and their role in connecting residents as a community.

"Apart from an exhibition of personal, unique, creative responses it's a strong community exhibition," said Ms Caldow.

"Members of the public can come and feel and experience the works, and take their own things away from seeing them. So it is an exhibition that focuses a lot on connecting our community together."

Meanwhile a number of awards were presented to select artists, and a few works were sold on the night.

As a local government initiative, the exhibition is a particularly important platform giving local artists the chance to showcase their work without the added pressures of gallery rental fees or entry costs.

"This exhibition really supports our creative practitioners because they're innovative thinkers and we value that in the City of Whittlesea," Ms Caldow said.

"I hope that it connects our artists, and it also connects our artists with the rest of the community who can get a great deal from experiencing the art work."

Resident viewing works R to L – 'Suffocated by Society' by Ellie Johnson, (top left) 'Capriccioso' by Raven McInnes and (bottom left) 'Magnolia Flowers' by Irina Zahra.

The City of Whittlesea New Beginnings 2017 Art Exhibition is fully accessible and is open until Tuesday 19 December at The Great Hall, Council Offices, (25 Ferres Boulevard, South Morang, VIC). Admission is free. Exhibition hours are 9.00 am - 5.00 pm weekdays. Guided gallery tours are available for groups by appointment only. For group bookings or for more information, phone (03) 9217 2291.

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