Photographer Effy Alexakis and historian Leonard Janiszewski held an exhibition at the end of 2022 celebrating forty years of Janiszewki’s documenting the history of the Greek-Australian community. One of the images showcased was shared on the historian’s Facebook on Sunday, garnering a multitude of likes and comments. The photo depicts a couple, Spartacus and Norma Tsiamis with the daughter, Karina.
“This photo was taken during a long road trip around Australia. We had seen the way First Nations Australians were treated and along the way witnessed, firsthand, the marginalisation,” Alexakis said.
“We had interviewed and had copied historical images of Greeks with First Nations people and other minorities (Italians, Maltese) working together in the building of early railroads, for example.”
The beautiful black and white image, a testament to the connection between First Nations Australians and early Greeks, a connection that goes back many years was captioned with quotes taken by both Spartacus and Norma.
“Spartacus: ‘I like it here, a bit quiet. Been back to Greece, don’t really miss Greece … my parents are dead, my brother is here … The first three to four years some racism, now doesn’t bother me at all … My father was in jail twenty years – a political prisoner – because he was involved in the resistance. My mother was provoked by them [Greek authorities] all the time. She had to work hard to support us. I had a hard time as a boy. Saw no future in Greece – if your family’s name was crossed you had no chance … Older son [Kostas] … my culture means nothing to him’.”
“Norma (nee Wurramarrba): ‘He [Kostas] speaks some of my language … family from Groote Eylandt [off the Northern Territory’s east coast in the Gulf of Carpentaria] … [we] take life as it comes’.”
Commenting on the exchange between the team and the couple, Alexakis added “What is poignant for me is that Spartacus also felt marginalised by other Greeks due to the political position of his family. Sadly, he has since passed away, but I was recently in touch with Karina, who was thrilled to be reminded of this photo”.
This photo is one of the 40 published in a limited edition hard cover book, titled Effy Alexakis: Forty Photographs, A year at a time created to celebrate the special experiences chosen to represent each year of their mission to document the stories of Greek Australians.
The book is available via www.cafesandmilkbars.com.au