Peter’s ‘Art for Timor’ Works

The ‘Art for Timor’ Committee is thrilled that so many Geelong locals are enjoying their visits to the Rachinger Gallery to view the ‘Art for Timor’ Art show. For those who are currently unable to visit the gallery space, long time committee member (and former GVFS President) Peter Cannon has provided us with a sneak peak of his ‘Art for Timor’ works. Peter has contributed five outstanding works which are each accompanied by an artist passage. Peter has also included four bonus works in his sneak peak article below. His full series of works is titled ‘Life in Viqueque’. Please enjoy.


Life in Viqueque

2008

Peter Cannon

Tricia and I first visited Viqueque in 2007. Over 11 years we made 13 trips. The comments on the eights pictures, most of which were taken on our second trip, are my recollections in 2020. I kept a diary of the second trip. If you would like that full version just let me know as it also has more pictures of a beautiful country and a people who may be materially poor but have a lovely culture and relationship with each other. A people that are determined to make their country more prosperous.

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A Used Tyre, a Stick and Fun

The River

All You Need is a Ball

Friendships Across Borders

Kids at School

The Link Man

The Highly Committed Principal

The Church, Centre of Spirituality

The Long Walk

Five of the pictures were displayed in the Art for Timor exhibition held at the Rachinger Gallery East Geelong – November 2020

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A Used Tyre, a Stick and Fun

What simple pleasure and enjoyment does this picture show of a young boy with a wooden paddle and a used tyre, as he scoots past a lady who carries her wares above. The streets and lanes of Viqueque are alive throughout the day, especially around sunset as neighbours gather to chat. What an amazing contrast it is with Australian suburbia. Once our streets were alive but not so today. There is something very special the Timorese still hold, neighbours and families connected with each other on a daily basis.

The River

The town of Viqueque straddles a river. It can be meek and mild and at other times a torrent. When it is like that it becomes extraordinarily dangerous, where lives are lost, especially the young. This picture demonstrates that the Timorese are not afraid of hard work. They are prepared to bend their backs to gather stones which will be used for the foundations of their basic homes. The contrast between our Australian economic conditions and that of the Timorese is stark.

All You Need is a Ball

The world over young people just love sport. The Timorese are agile, athletic and have very good hand eye coordination, and they are very competitive. Soccer is their first love but this photo is a volley ball game between two local secondary schools. Given the poverty of the country much joy and pride comes from two games which only need a ball. The locals will improvise for the add ons.

Friendships Across Borders

With frequent visits to Timor it does not take long for Geelong visitors to establish warm and close relationship with some of the locals. Tino Valera was an early interpreter for some Geelong visitors. This is a photo of Tricia Blane and Tino’s Mother who very much appreciated the limited but important paid work that her son was given by GFVS. Tino’s mother lived in a very simple home. She worked in the rice fields on a daily basis.

Kids at School

Goats in the schoolyard – not a sight one would see in Aussie schools! I never appreciated the beautiful colouring of goats until I went to Timor-Leste. There is a delightful balance amongst the humans, birds and animals throughout Viqueque District. The animals roam free, except there is an official movement to fence in the pigs. The most vociferous of all the birds are roosters whose very early morning call certainly gets the whole village up and going. There are no sleep ins for Western visitors!

The Link Man

Family is the centre of life in Timor-Leste. Mariano, Paulina (both teachers) and children have become dear friends of the many Geelong visitors to Viqueque. Mariano, with that welcoming smile is Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools’ Project Officer. He is the vital link between our group and the schools. Mariano, like many Timorese, experienced many hardships as Timor-Leste gained independence. Mariano’s father was one of the many Timorese who supported Australian soldiers during WW2. Tragically, his two brothers were killed by the Japanese.

The Highly Committed Principal

In 2008 Tricia and I met with the Principal (left) of Mundo Perdido Secondary School. He not only looked so tired after walking for almost an hour up a steep mountain to meet us, which even our 4WD struggled to complete, but also he seemed sad. He had a gutted building and students, but little else. His simple request from us was for some pencils and papers and stationery! We obliged on our return to Dili.

This meeting was six years after Timor-Leste gained independence. The Indonesians not only claimed many lives, they also systemically destroyed the country’s basic infrastructure. School buildings were left gutted. The teaching workforce significantly disrupted as many teachers were Indonesian and returned to their country. The void was filled by Timorese. Some had basic qualifications and many had none. Very few had teacher training. There were a number of ‘teachers’ who were volunteers and received no income from the government. This Principal showed total commitment to his school, despite the circumstances. It is pleasing to note that since independence the Timorese government has show

The Church, Centre of Spirituality

We arrived at the Catholic Church for Mass at 8.00. It was communion time so we got the timing wrong. Room was made for us as we made our way down the side aisle.  A very tall young Timor-Leste priest presided. (We got to know Father Divo quite well on later trips) A choir and guitarist provided the music. All in attendance, both young and old were highly attentive and respectful. Two young mothers breast fed just in front of me. Now, how beautiful was that! Parishioners had come in their Sunday best. They were proud to be there and it was good to sense this.

The Long Walk

The commitment of parents and their children to school is just inspiring. Secondary students will walk in the hot sun, probably with minimum breakfast for many kilometres, six days a week to school. They are all attired in a simple and colourful uniform, and on sport’s day they have a school tracksuit. GVFS scholarship program is a very basic way of encouraging these young people to continue with their education.

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