Saturday, January 16, 2010

Australian Citizenship Quilt

My Dad asked me the other day, what happened to the Australian Citizenship Quilt that I had made a block for. I gather it is still hanging in Parliament House in Canberra. My block was one of many chosen and I was very proud the day the letter came to inform me. We were asked to write a piece to accompany our block, explaining why we had chosen the block to make. This is what I wrote.
I am a 2nd generation Australian of Turkish (Lozengrad) and Croation (Island of Vis in the Adriatic) descent on my father's side.
My grandfather Peter (pronounced "Pet-a") left Turkey as a young man and tried the goldfields in Alaska before becoming an interpreter on the USA railway tunnel under the Great Lakes connecting Michigan to Canada. When applying for the railway job, the clerk had difficulty with his surname and pronunciation, so he Anglised it to "Thomas" and so it remained.
When the tunnel was complete, he boarded the NZ Steamship "Tahiti" for Australia. On arrival in Sydney in 1912, he found work, until 1915 when he was interned as a Turkish National with the advent of the Gallipoli campaign.
Upon release he managed a fruit shop with a friend and married his friend's sister-in-law in 1923.
Lukria, my grandmother-to-be, was brought out to Australia by her sister. Her family were Venetian ship owners in the 17th century operating from Venice to North Africa and the Holy Land.
Eventually my grandparents owned their own fruit shop, market garden and poultry farm. I recently visited their shop in Mosman, Sydney and felt a connection, as it had become a Patchwork Shop. Croatians are known for their beautiful embroidery so perhaps that is where my love for fabric art and stitching comes from.
Regretfully I never knew my grandparents, as they passed away before I was born and therefore I dedicate my square to
Peter Atanasov (1885-1949) and Lucria Zanki (1893-1937).
My square is of an olive and gum tree growing peacefully together under the Southern Cross. Olive trees are in abundance in Eastern Europe and I feel that even though they would have kept their European traditions, like our beautiful flowering gums, they would have also lived as Australians. They became Australian Citizens (Naturalised) in 1924.

1 comment:

  1. Very touching story, and a great idea for your block.