The launch of the 69th issue of the Antipodes periodical by the Greek-Australian Cultural League of Melbourne (GACL) at the Pan Arcadian Hall in North Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, October 22, was a significant success with over 100 attendees.
The 69th edition is dedicated to philhellenes, non-Hellenes who have devoted their lives to the cultures, lives and histories that constitute Greeks. The president of GCAL, Cathy Alexopoulos, welcomed the guests and dignitaries and was followed by the Greek Consul General for Melbourne, Victoria, Emmanuel Kakavelakis, who said many of the migrants who left an impoverished post-war Greece had established their “own form of Greek-Australian culture and the periodical as well as the activities of the GCAL, were a prime example.”
The guest of honour was David Hill, the former chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and prolific author, having penned 11 books on history and culture.
Hill has gained widespread recognition for his advocacy for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens.
Hill talked about Joice Nankivell Loch, from Central Gippsland, who is featured in the periodical, who Hill said was “instrumental in assisting hundreds of thousands of Greeks who forcefully fled Anatolia (Turkey) after the burning of Smyrna in 1922,” said that Loch later went on to “assist Jewish refugees fleeing from the Nazis in World War II.”
“Hundreds of thousands of Greeks had to flee. It is hard to imagine, and I suspect many of you come from families that once had to flee Anatolia (Turkey) due to the 1922 Catastrophe.”
Loch was significant in setting up a traditional rug weavers’ workshop in Ouranopoulis, the gate of Mount Athos, in a mediaeval tower. The workshop allowed refugee women from Anatolia to earn an income, and many of those rugs found a market in Melbourne.
Hill went on to talk about his role in advocating for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures and his friendship with the famous Labor prime minister, Gough Whitlam, himself a great philhellene, who he said has “studied the classics” and could “read and write in Ancient Greek”. Hill talked of how Whitlam became the patron of the Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. Hill recalled how, in 2004, Whitlam, at almost 90, requested to go to Greece as he was invited to London to deliver an address to the Institute of Art and Law on the case for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.
“What was remarkable about Gough was that even though he had the resources of a retired prime minister, where he could get people to make all his research and speech notes when it came to Greek stuff, he insisted on doing his research and writing his speech.”
Hill, in his talk, expressed optimism about the return of the Parthenon Sculptures and pointed to the British Museum director, George Osborne, former Conservative chancellor of the exchequer, “a major conservative, who publicly said that a deal could be done regarding the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.”
Hill says that the British public and even the more conservative mastheads like The Times are now behind the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.
Michael Winters, a designer whose work featured in early editions of the Antipodes periodical, then took the podium. He talked about how, in 1965, he boarded the Patris for Greece “as the ship was bringing Greek migrants to Australia.”
Winters talked about his enduring love of Greece and the culture’s “profound influence on him as an artist.”
The speeches were followed by a Greek musical performance by Wayne Simmons, Kat Stevens and Stavroula Thomopoulos.
The event also featured some of the works of Michael Winters, photographs by Effy Alexakis and sketches by Jim Antonopoulos.
Among the guests was philhellene, author, and human rights advocate Arnold Zable, who has an essay devoted to him in the periodical by Maria Papageorgiou Foroudi.
The Antipodes periodical also includes an essay by Neos Kosmos contributor Konstantinos Kalymnios on the use of Greek by former prime minister Gough Whitlam and the work of historian Leonard Janiszewski, who has documented the impact of Greeks on Australia’s milk bars and cafes.
The proceedings ended with GCAL president Cathy Alexopoulos thanking all involved and calling for “young Greek Australians and philhellenes to join the GACL board”.
For copies of the periodical and more information on GACL, contact email@example.com