In memory of Peter, whose work had a profound effect on the cultural life of the Greek Community of Melbourne, with the request that the following excerpt and images about the life and work of Peter Tsitas be used for inclusion in the Greek Australian Art Directory (GAAD).
A deep interest in the environment and how people respond to place is at the core of Peter Tsitas’ work – as an architect and town planner, and an artist and photographer. At first glance, the sleepy coastal fishing village of Warneet, at the head of Western Port Bay, has little in common with the island country of Cuba in the Caribbean. Yet Peter’s response to both reveal an eye trained to look at where and how we live.
While Warneet and Cuba are very different, both are places that have been left relatively untouched by progress. Warneet is quiet, a recreational fishing village surrounded by wetlands fringing Western Port that are internationally protected for the large number of native birds, animals and plants. Peter has been visiting regularly for 30 years and has captured the surroundings in a variety of media in that time.
Whether photographing, drawing, using pen and ink or pastels, the isolated beauty, ebbing tides and wide-open sky has proved a restorative and ongoing fascination for the artist. Not much happens at Warneet except for the tide going in and out, the fishermen standing preoccupied and silent on the pier and the ubiquitous boats sailing the inlet and bay. The mangroves, which are very forceful as they try to assert their dominance, have proved another enduring interest for Peter.
In 2005, Peter travelled to Cuba and based a major photographic series on his experience (Cuba Now! Steps Gallery 2006). These drawings in oil pastel explore habitat and while they contain no people, the presence of the local community seeps through. As a town planner, Peter appreciated the human scale of Cuba’s cities and towns, and the repetition of stylistic elements in the architecture. While Warneet is about nature, Cuba is about how people live; Peter was fascinated by the tight lanes and the constant element of surprise. “You’d walk around a corner, hear singing and all of a sudden you are at a café with live music, people coming together to share food and have fun. The sense of belonging is paramount.