I would like to introduce Theo Pouniotis, the Gardener.
In a small village called Livadia in Northern Greece, 12 year old Theo Pouniotis noticed a sparse patch of ground in the schoolyard. He asked his teacher if he could create a garden and grow vegetables. The students were all children of farmers; the teachers were sent to the school to serve short contracts. Theo imagined his teachers eating the produce from his garden. He had learnt, through watching and listening to his father, “If you worked the earth, the earth gave back”. True to his word, Theo planted his garden and produced vegetables and fruit; his garden flourished. This was to be the first of many gardens for Theo.
When he left school, Theo became a tailor but he never forgot about gardening.
There were difficult times ahead. After World War II Greece was devastated financially; all energy had gone into supporting the war effort. Civil war added to the chaos. By this time Theo was married and had two young children. He decided to emigrate to Australia, to join his brother.
Theo now lives on the Mornington Peninsula and is very proud of his garden. He grows wonderful produce for his family – his children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren.
Theo’s story is the migrant’s story.
I am honoured to have Theo as one of the nine men in my exhibition.