Friday, June 17, 2022
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Gallipoli – from foes to friends

Earlier this year a documentary was made on Felicity and Turkish war veteran descendant, Turgut Kacmaz. Turgut is now in his early 80s. His father, Huseyin Kacmaz, was the oldest surviving Turkish veteran, passing away in 1994 at the age of 110. A photograph of Turgut wearing his father’s military clothes is part of an extensive exhibition at Customs House this month: Gallipoli Then & Now: Bonds Forged by War.

Turkish-born photographer Vedat Acikalin has been documenting this story of Turkish, Australian and New Zealand Gallipoli veterans and their families for just over 30 years now. He first exhibited a very small selection of work in Sydney in 2011, under the title When Old Foes Meet.

Acikalin always planned to exhibit this fully-fledged collection in 2015, the centenary year of the Gallipoli campaign. With the support of the Australian Turkish Cultural Platform and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the exhibition will now tour five capital cities. It is also currently touring in Turkey; now in Istanbul (until September 2015) following successful exhibits in Izmir and Ankara.

The powerful images are a moving testament to the deep bonds that were eventually forged between these brave men from once opposing forces; bonds of friendship and respect that continue between their descendants and families.

This is a poignant visual documentary essay, the photographs revealing both the melancholy and the healing salve of time.

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