Wednesday, 23 April 2014

London exhibition celebrating Atatürk and children opens today


A visual exhibition opens in London today about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s love of children and the importance he placed upon their role in society. Musical composer Denis Erd and Müge Bakırcıoğlu of Moontop Productions have teamed up to create a photography and video exhibition documenting how the founder of the Turkish Republic gave greater prominence to children. In 1920, Atatürk created the world’s first Children’s Day and in 1921, the Turkish Parliament declared 23 April a national holiday. It has inspired many other countries to join Turkey’s annual celebration of children.

Bakırcıoğlu, a former producer of children’s programmes for Turkey’s national broadcaster TRT and who has been based in London for the past four years, had the idea to pull together a special exhibition on Atatürk and children. She told T-VINE: “He believed children are the future, that children are our hope, so he gifted them this day – the first of its kind in the world. We wanted to let people outside of Turkey see his unique contribution. We have been fortunate in securing photos and film footage of Atatürk with children from the Ankara Mausoleum – the first time such material will be seen in the UK.”

The Mausoleum has also sent key historical books from their archives, which document the importance of National Children’s Day. In addition, TRT have provided video footage of their colourful international Children’s Festivals. They launched the annual event back in 1979 – another world first for Turkey. Since then, the number of children participating on 23 April from countries around the world has grown considerably. In 2012, they came from over 40 countries including Bulgaria, China, Kenya, Indonesia, Russia, South Korea, and Venezuela.

The London exhibition is at the Lifetime Learning Centre and will be formally opened by Ünal Çevikoz, the Turkish ambassador to London, with a cocktail reception this evening. The Turkish Minister of Education Uğur Yıkan and senior diplomats from the TRNC and Azerbaijan London embassies are also expected to attend. The project is being supported by Anıtkabir Komutanlığı (Atatürk Ankara Mausoleum Headquarters), Tas Restaurants, Hey Print and Turkuas UK. The display will be open for public viewing until this Sunday. 

Exhibition Dates:  23-27 April 2014
Address: Lifetime Learning Charity, 223 Marsh Wall, Snowdon House, London E14 9FJ (exhibition is on ground floor)
Opening Times: 10am – 5pm (from Thursday 24-Sunday 27 April)
Entry: FREE

Public transport: nearest station is South Quay (DLR) 

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