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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 1 April 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 APRIL 2017 21 ARTS Michael Teo is Victoria’s top professional photographer The award came after winning AIPP Portrait Photographer of the Year NIKOS FOTAKIS Fitzroy photographer Michael Teo has pocketed the title of Victoria's top professional photographer for 2017 by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) – the country's largest photographic membership body. The awards are run annually in every state and are sponsored by Epson to showcase the best of the best of professional photography in Australia. The Greek Chinese Australian-born and raised photographer who specialises in fashion, advertising, and portrait work was educated as a classical musician. He switched to photography later in life. "My love for the art is always developing," said Michael. "My greatest skills are in getting the best out of people, making them feel comfortable and relaxed in front of my camera so they can truly be themselves." To be eligible for the title of Professional Photographer of the Year in each state, photographers must first win a category. Mr Teo was named the winner of the portrait category. A panel of experts then anonymously assesses all category winners' work to determine the overall state winner. Innovation, content, creativity, technical excellence, and impact are the key criteria when the images are reassessed. More than 190 entrants submitted a collective of 885 of images to be judged while over 100 of Victoria's top professional photographers gathered in Melbourne last Thursday night for the AIPP Vic Epson Professional Photography Awards presented at The Apartment on Little Bourke Street. "The AIPP Vic Epson Pro- fessional Photography Awards are a celebration of photographic excellence and represent the pinnacle of professional photography," national president of the AIPP Vittorio Natoli said. When someone receives a Lifetime Achievement Award, it is usually an opportunity to think back on their life's journey and their origins. For Maria Dimopoulos, this means remembering how it was coming from Florina to Australia aboard the Patris when she was no more than five years old. "I remember the space", she says of the first impression the new country made on her. "We grew up in Geelong", she remembers. "When I arrived my brother and I spoke no English - we picked it up in the schoolyard and now we speak better English than most Aussie-born people we know. I don't know how we did it, but we did; kids are especially resilient. My brother and I were among a handful of migrant children in a predominantly overwhelmingly Anglo Australian school. We tended to get into fights about our cultural identities; not a day would pass when we weren't involved in a fistfight. One thing I'll always remember is the time when there was a case of nits, head lice, at school and my brother and I were immediately dragged out and had this lotion poured over us in front of the school. And we actually didn't have lice. Things like that can change you. You develop an incredible sense of fighting for justice and that's what we ended up doing". Fast forward to March 2017, when the Migration Council of Australia presented Maria Dimopoulos with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual migration and settlement awards ceremony, offered in recognition of her excellence working as a human rights advocate, fighting for migrants and refugees. "I've worked in the sector for 30 years", she says. "I pretty much started working on migration issues when I was studying law at Monash. I actively chose subjects like human rights law. I emerged out of all of that with a law degree and a real desire to go beyond private practice and engage in community education, in law reform work and lobbying governments to improve access to justice for migrant and refugee communities. Most of the work I've done is on two fronts: building legal literacy for newly arrived communities who are often caught up in the crimi- “Australia is going backwards” Recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Migration Council of Australia, human rights advocate Maria Dimopoulos shares her backstory and refl ects on the state of multiculturalism nal justice system for no other reason than they don't understand the law. The other part of my work is judicial education; I do this in partnership with an amazing judge, Justice Emilios Kyrou. We deliver educational programs to judges across Australia, on issues around racism, cross-culture and equality before the law." So, how does it feel to get a lifetime achievement award for all this work? "If anything, I'm hoping that the award acts as a symbolic statement, as a reflection of the migrant women who I know are never going to get that level of acknowledgement, who are doing the hard yards but don't speak English well", she says. “I'm privileged by virtue of having a law degree. I know my parents did it tough; they worked two or three shifts in factories to get us to university and that's why I dedicated the award to them, but at the end of the day it's now up to me as a privileged integrated Greek Australian to be able to give back to those communities that are more marginalised than ever before". To her, this sense of duty towards the community is big- ger than the joy of getting an award. "The irony is that, here I am, at Parliament House and the Prime Minister gives me this award and makes a speech on the importance of multiculturalism", she says. "And then proceeds to support amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act that literally say to Australians that it's acceptable to be racist. I'm not sure if this is due to lack of leadership or not; maybe it is a very distinct type of leadership that believes that division in communities is the way to go", she explains before adding: "We haven't learned the lessons of the past. After 30 years, I think we've gone backwards, I'm actually seeing progress diminish". Would she go on to proclaim that the status of multiculturalism in Australia is fragile? "At a formal level it is fragile, but what I'm seeing at a grassroots level, particularly in Muslim communities and the most marginalised, is a sort of mobilisation that actually excites me. We can't rely on government, we have to be building capacities of our one community and this is quite inspiring for me". Canadian Greek festival revived thanks to $15,000 boost Michael Teo with his awards. PHOTO: FACEBOOK A Greek festival in London, Canada is set to return to the city thanks to a $15,000 boost from the provincial government. A Taste of Greece is a three-day event held in May over the Victoria Day long weekend, and will feature traditional Greek cuisine, music and dance performed by various groups. The festival is one of 45 art and cultural events across the province to benefit from a $2.8 million fund, reports Blackburn News. "Through the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, our government is supporting a variety of exciting events across the province that showcases our art, culture, and heritage," said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon. "As we celebrate our 150th anniversary, events like these remind us of how incredible this province is, how much we have to be proud of, and what we can accomplish when we come together." The funding is being made in a bid to help strengthen cultural tourism, boosting local economies by creat- ing jobs and drawing visitors to communities across Ontario.
25 March 2017
8 April 2017