/19 Australia

George Voulgaropoulos

Son of a Bulgarian

Rûm and Roses

We grow old.
Left with only memories and photographs,
Parts are forgotten and memories retouched.
This is a story of an ancestry lost,
The past imagined and a present dreamt.

Note: Rûm (pronounced; Rhoum, Roum)
A term used for non-Muslims inhabiting Ottoman or Turkish territories.

VOULGAROPOULOS, translated, means “the son of a Bulgarian”. When Nikos Voulgaropoulos was killed in 1922, any knowledge of ancestry was lost with him. This is my journey as I search for the origins of my family and our name, beginning in Bulgaria where I meet a Greek minority group called the Karakachani. Traditionally transhumant shepherds, the Karakachani have been forced to urbanise after the communist government took their livestock in 1958. Travelling across Bulgaria, down along the Black Sea coast and overland into Turkey, my journey has taken me through Istanbul to Izmir. Here I discover the birthplace of my Grandfather in Smyra (modern day Izmir), in the suburb of Halkapinar. This project reflects my experiences as a 2nd generation Australian growing up in a Greek family, tracing my connections with a fading past. The photographs represent my journey through the familiar within the unfamiliar on a search for the origins of my culture and identity.