Photos and report by Mary Sinanidis.
At the launch of the 50th anniversary edition of the Antipodes periodical at the Panarcadian Association of Melbourne and Victoria’s ‘O Kolokotronis’, author/researcher Dr Christos Fifis recalled the challenges of getting the publication off the ground.
“It took us four years to get started and it wasn’t easy. We had to secure funding,” he told The Greek Herald. “It was just a small booklet, but we agreed that it should be bilingual, and we wanted to print it two or three times a year. We couldn’t have imagined it would come this far.”
Though Dr Fifis was there from the outset, Greek Australian Cultural League (GACL) President Cathy Alexopoulos hopped on board for the last 25 years. A retired English teacher, she has been on a crusade to revamp the publication and give it structure. This year, it is dedicated to Philhellenes, many of whom were present at Sunday’s launch.
Former ABC Chair David Hill, the keynote speaker, cast the spotlight on late Gough Whitlam, the truest Australian Philhellene. Whitlam was a student of Greek history, philosophy and art, and was the only retired politician to continue attending Greece’s national day celebrations every year on March 25.
“In 2004, Gough Whitlam, at nearly 90 years of age, went on his last overseas trip to Greece, and I went with him,” Mr Hill said. “He went to deliver a keynote address to an organisation in London called the Institute of Art and Law, and the topic of his keynote address was the case for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.”
Mr Hill pointed to the depth of Whitlam’s love for Greece.
Though Gough didn’t live to see the return of the Parthenon Marbles, Mr Hill said more has happened in the last two years than in the 200 before that.
“I have hope. I think, at last, the Marbles are going to go back to Greece,” he said, pointing to the turn of a 200-year editorial tradition in Britain, particularly in the conservative Times and Telegraph.
In a chat with The Greek Herald following the event, Mr Hill shared his love of Greece and pointed to Kosmas, his favourite destination en-route to Gytheo.
“Hey, that’s my horio (village),” said Betty Dimitropoulos, who happened to be passing by.
The two gushed about the beauties of the mountainous village overlooking the Saronic Gulf; a traditional settlement that has retained its local character thanks to its stone buildings and three “Lion” fountains spilling the waters from the abundant springs.
For Philhellenic artist Michael Winters, also present at the launch, it was the island of Leros that fascinated him. That is where he ended up after hopping aboard the Patris from Melbourne to Athens, making the opposite journey of migrants at the time.
“I had designed that first cover of the first Antipodes Periodical and then forgot about it. I had the horizon in mind. The meridian around the earth showed the southern hemisphere and the northern hemisphere, and we were reaching to the northern hemisphere,” Mr Winters said.
He remembered the design when Ms Alexopoulos called him in March to ask him to come to Melbourne to be part of the Antipodean Palette and to launch this year’s periodical featuring an artwork by Effy Alexakis on the cover.
Mr Winters, who jumped at the chance to participate, said both he and the publication have changed.
Ms Alexopoulos pointed out that the publication is now in colour, has changed its format and includes more artworks, including those from the GACL’s children’s workshops.
“On top of that, we’ve created a book award and are varying our activities,” Ms Alexopoulos said.
Greek Consul General in Melbourne Emmanuel Kakavelakis likened the history of the periodical to that of Greece itself.
“The appearance reflects the look of our community. What began as a booklet is now a luxurious, colourful, rich periodical, much like our community over the decades. It consisted of people who left a country behind for a better future. Look at them today. The magazine reflects that,” Mr Kakavelakis said.
Those present celebrated with a variety of Greek delicacies and good music by Philhellene Wayne Simmons, Kat Stevens and Stavroula Thomopoulos. MC for the event was journalist Fotis Kapetopoulos.
To buy a copy of the periodical and more info on the GACL, email firstname.lastname@example.org.