This event was to showcase photographer Vedat Acikalin’s “When Foes become Friends” photo exhibition. These rare photos of Anzac and Turkish war veterans that fought in WW1, on the shores of Gallipoli, were the last known photos of the WWI veterans ever taken together.
Mr Acikalin opened the night with a captivating insight into his journey with photography. Starting out as a partner in a small newspaper with three other individuals in Sydney, Mr Acikalin was given a camera and was told to take photos for the newspaper. The rest was history, as he later became a successful and influential photographer , supplying a variety of his photos to Australian agencies such as The Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. Mr Acikalin covered many Australian sporting events such as the Australian Open and the 2000 Sydney Olympic games. Mr Acikalin was sponsored by Affinity Intercultural Foundation and the Australian Federal Police to showcase his talented collection titled, ‘where foes meet friends”, a historical reunion at Gallipoli with the last few remaining Australian and Turkish soldiers.
Mr Acikalin enlightened and inspired the audience with a display of historical images, never to be captured again. These images included heroic individuals who fought during the first war. Mr Acikalin captured the vulnerability yet stoic nature of these individuals who were once foes but were now embracing each other as friends. These images captured the true Gallipoli spirit, where soldiers from Turkey and Australia were meeting as though they were long lost brothers, whilst family members stood side by side rekindling the memories they once shared.
Afterwards, guest speaker Mr Roy Ringrose, who was the son of the late WWI veteran Edward Ringrose, took us on a stroll down memory lane, where he told us of the war story of his late father. He captivated the audience when he explained the story of the two daggers that his father had taken from two captive Turkish soldiers in Gallipoli. He gave these daggers to Mr Mehmet Saral, President of Affinity Intercultural Foundation, back in 2007. These daggers were officially opened for everyone to see on the evening and throughout the 4 day exhibition, which concludes on 29th of April.
Mr Mehmet Saral, then, gave a response to Mr Roy Ringrose’s speech when he shared the story with the audience involving the two daggers that were given to him by Roy. Mr Saral said, that “…these two daggers that passed on to Affinity signifies the fruits of dialogue”.
Leanne Raiser, head of the AFP Community Contact Team, gave a Vote of Thanks, stating that she enjoyed the evening very much and enjoyed Mr Acikalin’s work. She said, “…the exhibition demonstrates Australia’s spiritual history and our cultural background which continues to grow and develop today”. After thanking Affinityu for hosting the program, she said that the AFP and Affinity are “seeking opportunities such as this exhibition to build community resilience”.
Regardless of what occurred during Gallipoli , today the product and actions of dialogue, has made the grandchildren of the foes to continue to create a true “multicultural Australia”.