My mother

My mother (MC introduction to Polixeni’s wake)

My mother Dr Polixeni Papapetrou (or Papápetrow, as computer text-to-speech services would mispronounce it) was an amazing, enormously inspiring person. If I praised her for everything for which I respected her, we’d be sitting here for a long while; so I will spare you. However, I may as well cover the obvious things first: Commercial lawyer: impressive! PhD: impressive! One of the most decorated contemporary Australian photographers: most impressive! But perhaps most impressive of all, is that she accomplished all of these feats while not being the product of affluence, or a successful, reciprocal academic family, or some other form of luck or privilege. In fact, she started from quite a disadvantaged place. And rather than being the product of luck, she had to fight an uphill battle for everything she achieved. Sheer industry and force of will were the ministers of her talent. She was annealed and refined by catastrophe, adversity, like many great artists before her. Forgetting all this, she raised a family with almost unconditional love and nurture, which is an accomplishment in itself. She secured my future by being a role model, a paradigm of excellence. At age 19 it remains to be seen what I will go on to do in life, but I owe whatever happens to her influence and her memory. We are grateful today that she left us such a positive contribution to remember her by, so we don’t have to wallow entirely in the sadness of her death. In an article by Joanna Murray Smith, it was remarked that Poli had an uncanny ability to attract friends of extraordinary calibre. I welcome to the podium such an extraordinary friend; a curatorial luminary whom Poli loved dearly, Isobel Parker Phillips. She is to be followed by Natalie King, yet another of these extraordinary people in her glowing social and professional circle.

Thank you

Solomon Nelson
April 2018