What’s in a picture? – a Xmas tale of shooting the past

December 23, 2014


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A young Turkish Cypriot woman holding a rifle in 1964 Cyprus – a stark photograph of troubled times, a face without a story.

CY000458 Young Turkish Cypriot girl fighter

Until now.

Last week Lebrecht photo library was contacted by the Australian nephew of the young woman.  He was stunned to imagine that his aunt, now in her early sixties and battling cancer, was once young and armed. Lebrecht photographer, Brian Seed, who took the picture was unaware that Aysel, 16 years old and four months pregnant, had just learned that her husband had been kidnapped in a neighbouring Greek village. She grabbed the village mukhtar’s rifle, determined to defend her home, find her husband and avenge his kidnap. This photo captures a pivotal moment in her young life and in the history of Cyprus.

Aysel never saw her husband again.

Her nephew Adem, whose father emigrated to Australia,  travelled to Cyprus for the first time last year to meet  the family he had never met before.  His aunt  had  somehow found Brian’s photo and Adem tenaciously tracked down the source online.  He wrote to Lebrecht: ‘Showing my father the image online, he teared up remembering his childhood on the war torn island. It makes me appreciate how lucky I am to have been born in Australia, and to have been raised with such a privileged upbringing’.

Brian Seed who is now in his eighties told him: ‘I did arrive in one town – possibly that of your aunt – early in the morning. There were two bodies laying in a doorway and houses seemed to be empty’  He sent over another of his photographs of child refugees crowded into the back of an open lorry.  They are now trying to ascertain if one of those little boys was Adem’s father.

CY000453 Cyprus Feb. 1964, Turkish refugees


(photo credits:  Brian Seed/Lebrecht Music & Arts)