The Sculptures of Atauro Island

Public programs

Man carrying children</br>Antonio Soares</br>Maquili, Atauro Island, Timor-Leste</br>Late 20th century</br>White hardwood (Wrightia javanica), initim (AD), ai lalar (T) with cloth</br>51 H x 11.5 W x 10 D cm</br>Maria do Céu Lopes da Silva Collection, CF0048

Past events

ART FORUM: Public floor talk by Maria do Céu Lopes da Silva

Location: CDU Art Gallery, Orange 12, Casuarina Campus
Wednesday 7 June

CDU Art Gallery invites you to a public floor-talk by Maria do Céu Lopes da Silva, as she discusses her impressive collection of sculptures that are included in The Sculptures of Atauro Island.

Maria do Céu Lopes da Silva, born and raised on Atauro Island, will tell how she came to collect these distinctive works of art, from 1999 onwards, following the end of Indonesia’s occupation of Timor-Leste.

ART FORUM: Public floor-talk by Joanna Barrkman
Location: CDU Art Gallery, Orange 12, Casuarina Campus
Thursday 16 March

Visit the exhibition The Sculptures of Atauro Island with the exhibition curator, Joanna Barrkman as she gives a guided floor- talk about the unique sculptural tradition of Atauro Island, Timor-Leste. This small island, which is located across the Wetar Strait from Dili, Timor-Leste, is the home to a long-standing wood-carving tradition.

The exhibition considers some of the shifts and changes in the practice of wood-carving that have occurred on Atauro in recent decades. By adapting to social changes, the sculptors of Atauro have melded together aspects of their traditional belief systems and contemporary life into the sculptures they create today. Whilst in the past sculptures were created to honour the ancestors, today their purpose is more of a contemporary expression of cultural identity that fosters small sustainable livelihoods for the sculptors and their families.  

Joanna Barrkman has extensive experience documenting the arts of Timor and eastern Indonesia. She has authored an accompanying exhibition catalogue The Sculptures of Atauro Island, with support from the Gordon Darling Foundation.

The Sculptures of Atauro Island features contemporary and historical sculptures from the following collections:

CDU Art Collection

  • National Gallery of Australia
  • Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
  • The private collection of Michael Abbott AO QC
  • The private collection of Maria do Céu Lopes da Silva
  • The private collection of John Graham

The exhibition also features a short film documenting the process of sculpting, featuring master sculptor Antonio Soares.

Other films presented elucidate aspects of the lifestyle of the Atauroan people:

Wawata Topu – Mermaids of Timor-Leste, a film by David Palazón and Enrique Alonso and

Ro’o Putin Hatin- Putin’s Boat, a film by Victor de Sousa.

The exhibition is presented by Charles Darwin University, the Secretariat of State Art and Culture of Timor–Leste and Timor Aid from 16 March – 15 July 2017.

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Copyright: images of art work on this site are reproduced for the purposes of research and study only. Whilst every effort has been made to trace Copyright holders, we would be grateful for any information concerning Copyright of the images and will withdraw them immediately upon the Copyright holder’s request.

CDU Art Collection and Art Gallery

Building Orange 12.1.02
Casuarina campus
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Gallery opening hours:
Wed-Fri, 10am-4pm
Sat, 10am

Dr Joanna Barrkman

Eileen Lim
Exhibitions & Collection Officer

T: 08 8946 6621

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University Art Museums Australia (UAMA)