Cultural Strangers: Crossing Cultures

An Introduction to:

Cultural Strangers – Crossing Cultures

tracey-and-martyIt’s very fascinating that I’m getting to introduce some very special Guest bloggers at this time, I must admit that currently I’m going through a small health crisis. Approximately 3 weeks ago I had the chance meeting through another blogger who will himself be doing a guest post a little later. But back to the story. This couple live in Australia and operate a Travel Agency called Geokult Travel,  Tracey also has her own blog at The thing that attracted me to their blog was a combination of two things, first Marty is a amazing photographer and Tracey well………….you will see her ability as writer. She is a master wordcrafter! I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do.

Our love affair with Turkey

Turkey is a country that my husband Marty and I love. Over the last three years, we have visited twice, once for two months and then for a month in 2013. From Australia that is no mean feat as it takes about 20 hours to get to Istanbul from Sydney. The initial visit was mainly for creative activities – to participate in the ISEA2011 festival and to undertake an artist residency at the Babayan Culture House, in Ibrahimpaşa, a small rural village in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.

View from the terrace: Babayan Culture House, © Tracey Benson 2011
View from the terrace: Babayan Culture House, © Tracey Benson 2011

Enduring Friendships between nations

Turkey in many ways took me by surprise, I had not expected its vibrancy and diversity, how each region has its own rich landscapes, culture and history. What surprised me most of all was the warmth and generosity of the Turkish people, particularly when they knew we were Australians. We were often asked whether we had visited Gallipoli, a site that is integral to the history of both of our nations. I learnt about how young men threw each other food and tobacco and shared stories when there were breaks in the fighting. I also learnt when the young ANZACs died on Turkish soil, that their legacy would be an enduring  friendship between nations which continues today.

Statue of Turkish soldier carrying a wounded Australian soldier
Statue of Turkish soldier carrying a wounded Australian soldier

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets

In 1934 Atatürk (Mustafa Kemal) wrote a tribute to the ANZACs killed at Gallipoli, which is featured on a memorial at Anzac Cove:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours… you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.

This inscription also appears on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, ANZAC Parade, Canberra.

During our residency, we developed a number of series of works under the collective banner of Cultural Strangers. We focused on ideas of location and mapping from the perspective of being cultural strangers, with some interesting results.

Here are some of the works we created:

You can also see more images via our Flickr feed.

In 2013, we returned to Turkey and to Cappadocia, though this time we also travelled to the spectacular Turkish Mediterranean, which was the highlight of our journey.

In many ways, our trips to Turkey cemented our mutual love for travel and our desire to share our stories and images through our site

For a complete list of the posts from the residency, check out Cultural Strangers

5 thoughts on “Cultural Strangers: Crossing Cultures

  1. Reblogged this on Geokult Travel and commented:

    We were recently invited to do a guest post for “Life in Russia” about our love for Turkey. We hope you enjoy this post. Thanks Steve for the chance to share a story 🙂

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