After discovering the first Greek in Australia had settled in Picton, artist Angela Konstantinopoulou has become determined to tell their story through art to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Greek war of independence.
Ms Konstantinopoulou, who signs her works as “Kiki’’, is excited that those works and her oil paintings of prominent figures in the historic struggle of Greece against the Ottoman Empire will take pride of place when they go on exhibition at Campbelltown arts centre and other galleries in 2021.
One of them, of Lord Byron, is pictured below.
Kiki, who says she has always felt a connection to the Macarthur region, was a finalist in the Fisher’s Ghost Art Award.
Her entry is part of the art works on display at Quondong, the Campbelltown tourist information centre.
Kiki is a TAFE NSW Campbelltown student and is studying a Certificate III in Graphic Design Fundamentals.
“My TAFE NSW teachers have helped me harness my Greek heritage in my art and I’m now working with historian Dr Panayiotis Diamandis to understand the story of Antonios Manolis and what life was like for him in Picton so long ago,” she says in reference to the man believed to be the first Greek national to set foot in the penal colony of NSW.
Manolis is buried in the Picton cemetery.
It is said that artists sometimes have to suffer for their art and for Kiki this is literally what happened.
A tragic car accident in 2010 put her dream of being an artist on hold, but through her recovery and her TAFE NSW teachers, she learned how to paint again.
“I travelled to Greece while I was recovering from the accident and I fell in love with Greek history and wanted to convey the sacrifice our ancestors made for us in my art.”
Kiki, whose family migrated to Australia in 1960 when she was just two years of age, studied for a Diploma of Visual Arts at TAFE NSW in 2018 where her teachers helped develop her practical skills and technique.
TAFE NSW head teacher of design, Lydia Kullik, said Kiki’s success was a testimony to the hard work she put in throughout her course.
“The opportunities Kiki has been able to pursue through TAFE NSW has helped relaunch her career and we are so excited to see where it takes her,” Ms Kullik said.
“TAFE NSW creative design and art courses are very well regarded in the industry because of the hands-on skills and experience the students get, including ones delivered here in Campbelltown.”
In September 2016 Kiki started painting the series of Greek war of independence heroes, which is almost complete.
Her first painting was of General Theodoros Kolokotronis, commander in chief of the Greek forces that launched the struggle for freedom in 1821.
Now she has joined forces with Macarthur Greeks Inc to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of that war in 2021 right here in our region.
While details are yet to be finalised, her work is expected to be on exhibition at Campbelltown for around three weeks following a formal premiere on a date to be fixed.
“I can’t wait, it’s so exciting,’’ says Kiki.