Mertim Gokalp’s “The Descendants Project” is Opening Today

| April 10, 2015

As a part of the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli/Canakkale war in the First World War, there are a number of activities are hold in Australia and Turkey. One of the activities, The Descendants Project is opening its door to public tonight at 6:00 pm, Friday, 10th April 2015 at The Rocks Discovery Museum.

The_Descendants_Project_yalsin_tolsin (1)

Yalsin Tolsin, The Descendants Project, Mertim Gokalp


Sydney-based contemporary portrait artist of Turkish origin Mertim Gokalp, will be displaying a series of portraits depicting descendants of ANZAC servicemen and women, and Turkish Gallipoli war descendants.

The portraits will be accompanied by a collection of personal stories and memoirs, which address a mutual understanding of the desire for peace between the two nations and reflects on the inner conflicts of the human psyche. Mertim said “I was inspired by the Anzac centenary and developed this project to honor our common past and to celebrate the future.”

Turkey and Australia was connected almost a century ago, by a war. Gallipoli War was a significant time for both nations, while one was uniting around the loss and destruction the other was falling apart, yet to be born as a new nation from its ashes. Less both sides knew was that both nations grew stronger, linked by a unique bond.

In portraying both Australian and Turkish descendants, the artist addresses mutual understanding and promotion of peace between the nations. The artist also attempts to capture the unique reflections of the ANZAC legacy on both Australian and Turkish national and personal identities, exploring the fascinating story of each descendant individually. Personal stories and memories have been collected and are displayed alongside the portraits, enhancing the connection between the viewer and the artwork.


Baran Akbay, The Descendants Project, Mertim Gokalp


Mertim Gokalp said “Descendants, first originated from the Anzac letters the soldiers wrote to their loved ones, will seek to explore the reflections of a war on the generation of the present. The most noteworthy letter to this project, the one private Alistair John Taylor wrote to his family, which talks about how the soldiers from both sides bonded during a brief truce can be found as an original record in the collections of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.”


Donald Keys, The Descendants Project, Mertim Gokalp


Painting portraits is his way of exploring the underpinnings of human psychology. Using the narrative potential of portrait painting, in his words ‘aims to challenge the viewers and confront them with their most inner feelings and emotional attachments’. In his paintings, Mertim tries to reflect on certain emotions through personal attachments to objects, such as; distress through blow dryer, warmth through iron, loss of hope through a red balloon…

Susan Holis, The Descendants Project, Mertim Gokalp

Susan Holis, The Descendants Project, Mertim Gokalp

Mertim adds “To me, painting is a synthesis of my feelings, inspirations, reactions and struggles; it is a way of breathing in and out…Painting portrait is one of my passions as it is a great area to explore the underpinnings of human psychology. Using the narrative potential of portrait painting, I aim to challenge the viewers and confront them with their most inner feelings.”

Mertm_3Mertim is looking forward to future projects. He has developed The Descendants a strong project to honour the Anzac centenary and the Turkish-Australian connections to the common past which will be launched on Anzac Day, 2015. With this project, Mertim seeks to explore a multicultural identity through readings of nationality.

Mertim Gokalp is a Sydney based contemporary portrait artist of Turkish origin. Mertim has moved to Sydney in 2009 who has been recently granted a distinguished talent visa by the Australian Government to allow him to live and work in Australia.

Mertim’s training at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts Academy, Istanbul, has prepared him well for a career in portraiture, and in the five years that he has been living in Sydney he has been selected as a finalist in all the top portrait exhibition.  Mertim Gökalp has been highly awarded both in Australia and internationally, culminating in his selection as a finalist in the 2013 Archibald Prize at the ArtGallery of New South Wales, for his portrait of the late Australian actor Bille Brown. He was also a finalist in the 2011 Black Swan Portrait Prize and has been selected for the Multicultural Australia exhibition at Parliament House this year (2014). Mertim’s most recent achievement was to be selected by Angus Trumble (Director of the National Portrait Gallery) as a finalist for the Glencore Percival Portrait Painting Prize for two paintings ‘Billie Brown in a Turkish Bath’ and ‘Mama Keeps Me Warm’.



More information on Mertim can be found on his website and you can follow him on social media.

s The copyright of all the paintings published on this article are belong to Mertim Gokalp.



Opening Night: 6:00 pm, Friday 10th April 2015

10 April to 3 May

Daily  10am – 5pm


(02) 9240 8680

Kendall Lane, The Rocks (enter via Argyle Street)


Enjoy some other works by Mertim Gokalp below.



“Bille Brown” by Mertim Gokalp




“Mermaid” by Mertim Gokalp

"Tortoise Trainer" by Mertim Gokalp

“Tortoise Trainer” by Mertim Gokalp


“Out of Blue” by Mertim Gokalp



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Category: Etkinlik, Görsel, Resim, Toplum

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