Written by Nick Siriodis.
The Greek Australian from Sydney, Effy Alexakis, is a talented photographer and her work speaks for itself.
After creating countless pieces, and leaving an unforgettable mark, she continues to create to this day together with her partner, historian Leonard Janiszewski, who also works alongside her.
Ms Alexakis and Mr Janiszewski have been documenting aspects of the everyday life of Greeks in Australia for decades. This has led to the pair arriving in Athens, Greece, last month to present Ms Alexakis’ latest book Effy Alexakis: Forty Photographs – A Year at a Time at the Australian Embassy.
The Greek Herald attended the event and closely followed the very interesting discussion. Ms Alexakis, Mr Janiszewski and Dr Lita Georgopoulou-Gregory from the Australian Archaeological Institute in Athens spoke. The new Ambassador of Australia in Greece, Alison Duncan, also participated, where she spoke very warmly about Mrs Alexakis and the Greek community in Australia.
During the discussion, various aspects of the pair’s research was covered, including why they started and continued this photographic project, their methods and how they learned to adapt to new technologies. They shared the highs and lows of their journey to piece together the book, as well as the personal impact their work had on their lives and how the Greek Australian experience has shaped itself over the years.
At the end of the discussion, in which many Greek Australians of all ages attended, questions were asked and answered. Afterwards, the attendees enjoyed drinks and some tasty refreshments.
‘I spent forty years creating the book’:
At the end of the discussion, Ms Alexakis spoke with The Greek Herald about her book and more. First, we asked her for her feelings about the event.
“We feel very happy because we have a great connection and bond with Greece. Since the first years of my photography, it is always in my heart. I feel that when the Australian embassy shows this interest in what I do, it means a lot to me and to the work I do with Leonard in Australia. It gives importance and shows respect to our work,” Ms Alexakis said.
As for whether she regretted some photos and stories she didn’t include in her book, she was honest.
“Yes, that’s why I say that if I did the book now, the photos would be very different. I chose more emotional ones, because we went through COVID-19, we had a lockdown for a long time. Maybe it would have been a different book, a happier one. But in the end I chose human stories with strong emotion,” she said.
Regarding her future plans and what else she has in mind, she said: “I am now 66 years old. I don’t have to work now. Of course I do work, but now I have the opportunity to do what I want.”
“That’s why with my next costume project, it’s something I want to do,” she added.
“That’s why when I come back to Sydney, I have another exhibition together with two photographer friends and the theme is death. It is something that intrigues me as a photographer and in this book I have also chosen a photo of the man in the coffin. It’s part of life. In Australia we hide it, we don’t talk about it, that’s why I find it very interesting.”
Finally, we asked her why anyone should rush to buy her book. She answered: “It’s a low-cost book and I spent 40 years creating it. The photos are in black and white and the image quality is very high. It is an art book that makes me very proud.”