A Palermitan photographer in Australia
The impressions of Bartolo Chichi, a Palermitan photographer in Australia
What was your impression when your first set foot in Australia?
I visited Australia for the first time in 2000. The feeling of being in Oceania, in such a distant continent was very exciting.
Was Australia as you expected?
Before departing I had kept in touch with a friend of mine who lived there. Yes, it was a bit as I expected.
What surprised you about Australia?
What surprised me the most was the mixture of people coming from different countries of the world. I had already been to the US but I had never seen so many nationalities mixed together, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Indians all together in the one area! Since Australia is a relatively new continent there are no historical (ancient) monuments like the ones you may find in Italy. But there are some churches which are in contrast with the modern buildings surrounding them. Another thing that struck me was the contrast between the coast and the inland. As you go inland you leave behind any sign of civilization and you find yourself into the wild.
What disappointed you?
I wasn’t really disappointed but I did notice some kind of distance I am not used to. The Australians are rather reserved people, they don’t open up easily especially in the big cities.
What do you find to be unique in Australia?
The animals: kangaroos, koalas, emus and other species living there. Also the vegetation and the green colour is so intense and unique. I’ll never forget that.
Do Australia, Sicily and Palermo have anything in common?
The Ocean Road, 800 kms from Melbourne to Adelaide resembles the Sicilian coast between Siracusa and Pozzallo. Especially the coast where you can see the 12 Apostles, the sandstone rocks, ten million years old.
What are the most beautiful things to photograph in Australia?
Definitely the underwater photos of the Barrier Reef. Only 5 or 6 metres underwater you can already find starfish, seahorses and very colourful fish.
What advice would you give an Australian visiting Palermo or vice-versa?
I would suggest a Palermitan visiting Australia that he should try the local food. It’s surprising! Australians use chickpea, like the one we use to make panelle, to make some paste that they spread on slices of bread similar to what we call bruschette. I have tried some pancakes cooked with ants and seasoned with some particular sauces. They were very tasty, a bit like the fishballs we make with “neonata”, the baby fish, they have the same consistency, very nice. But they told me they were ants only after eating them.
I would tell him to catch all the aspects of such a unique and wonderful nature, especially when there is a perfect light.