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Reproduced courtesy of Gina Sinozich

Leaving the Port of Genoa

Date: 2001
Overall: 640 x 935 x 45 mm, 2.4 kg
Medium: Oil on wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Gina Sinozich
Object Copyright: © Gina Sinozich
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00037914
Place Manufactured:Sydney

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    In 1957 Croatian refugees Gina Sinozich, her husband Eugen and their two children Vladimiro and Eugenia left the Italian port of Genoa on board SS NEPTUNIA to travel to Melbourne, Australia. Gina was happy to leave Italy, having waited 18 months in a refugee camp for her official papers to be processed. This is one of a series of 14 paintings by the 73 year old artist documenting her personal experience as a Croatian migrant travelling to Australia.
    SignificanceThis painting represents the personal experience of Croatian refugee and artist Gina Sinozich on board SS NEPTUNIA in 1957, during a peak period of immigration to Australia after World War II.
    HistoryGina Sinozich began painting in 2000, when she was 70 years old. In 2009 she continued to paint full-time at her home in south-western Sydney. In these paintings Gina gives a first hand account of daily life on board the passenger ship SS NEPTUNIA which left Genoa, Italy for Melbourne, Australia on 19 June 1957. Her works are largely chronological and concentrate on the ship's journey, offering an insight into the anticipation and apprehension she felt towards their destination Australia, of which little was known.

    In 1956 Gina Sinozich fled her hometown in Istria, Croatia with her husband and two children Michael and Jenny to start a new life. Their decision to leave was made because of the difficult conditions experienced by families living in post-war Croatia, then part of the Communist Republic of Yugoslavia and under the control of Marshall Josip Tito. Many Croatians feared for their safety and experienced hunger and poverty.

    After travelling overland to Italy the Sinozich family lived in a refugee camp for 18 months until they were accepted for assisted migration to Australia. The family of four arrived to Australia with only three small suitcases, having fled in secret without packing family keepsakes or mementoes.

    Their journey mirrored the passage taken by hundreds of thousands of post-World War II European migrants, one which changed not only their lives but also had a profound effect on Australian society. Gina returned to Croatia in 2004, reuniting with family members and mending rifts caused by her secret departure almost fifty years earlier.
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