Exhibition to reveal remote island’s art


Curator Joanna Barrkman with some of the Sculptures of Atauro Island

Curator Joanna Barrkman with some of the Sculptures of Atauro Island

An exhibition exploring the unique artwork of a remote island north of Dili in Timor-Leste will open at the Charles Darwin University Art Gallery on Wednesday, 15 March.

The Sculptures of Atauro Island will be presented by CDU in partnerships with the Timor-Leste State Secretariat of Art and Culture, and Timor Aid, and will explore the importance of a unique and isolated sculptural practice.

CDU Art Gallery Curator Joanna Barrkman said that Atauro Island, located across the Wetar Strait, 30km north of Dili in Timor-Leste, was home to a distinctive sculptural tradition that had largely disappeared from much of the eastern islands of South-east Asia.

“Despite the island’s turbulent history and social change, wood-carving skills have continued to flourish on Atauro Island, with contemporary innovations,” Ms Barrkman said.

“The artworks also provide an important economic livelihood, with carvers travelling to Dili to sell their works.”

She said the exhibition was the first of its kind, and would bring together more than 70 works from around Australia and Timor-Leste, including from the National Gallery of Australia.

“Many of the sculptures depict ancestor figures, sea creatures such as mermaids, mermen, fish and crocodiles, as well as masks, shields and ceremonial spoons,” she said.

“The more recent sculptors create distinctive and innovative, contemporary figures that build on earlier, classic sculptural forms specific to their island.”

Ms Barrkman said the exhibition would include short films showcasing the sculpting process and other traditions of the Atauoran people. A detailed catalogue of the history of Atauro sculptures and how this practice has been carried into the contemporary era would be available.

The exhibition features sculptures from the CDU Art Collection, the National Collection of Timor-Leste in Dili, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, and the private collections of Maria do Céu Lopes da Silva from Dili, Michael Abbott AO QC from Adelaide and John Graham from Melbourne.

The exhibition will be officially opened by Mr James Bennett, Curator of Asian Art from the Art Gallery of South Australia on 15 March at 5.30pm. The exhibition is open to the public from 16 March 2016 – 15 July 2016.

For more information visit W: www.cdu.edu./au/artgallery

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