Leaving The Crocodile

Who’s involved

Liverpool Regional Museum;
Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney;
Migration Heritage Centre;
Members of the East Timorese community, in particular co-curators Brigida de Andradé and Manuel Branco.

When and where

Project location: South West Sydney
Project status: Completed project
Date of completion: December 2001

Project description

After the 1975 invasion of East Timor by Indonesia, East Timorese people fled to many parts of the world, including Australia. Their new homes became important bases from where it was possible to continue the Independence movement and to strengthen and maintain communities. The East Timorese community in Liverpool, in Sydney’s western suburbs, played a particularly significant role in the struggle for East Timor’s freedom.

‘Leaving the Crocodile’ was developed to empower East Timorese people living in Sydney to tell their own stories and talk about their roles in the struggle for East Timor’s freedom. It is also an occasion to share memories of homes and homelands, and experiences of migration and exile.

Through the active participation of the community in the local area, the project explores what it means to be East Timorese at this important point in history. The East Timor Drop-in Centre in Fairfield, until its closure in December 2000, operated as the location for community participation in the project. Since then the community meetings have been held weekly at the Casula Powerhouse.

Between June 2000 and May 2001, two East Timorese artists, Brigida de Andrad̩ and Manuel Branco Рwith Nidia Mendon̤a, a youth worker at the East Timor Drop-in Centre Рconducted a series of weekly art workshops for East Timorese youth.

In the first half of 2001 the project moved into a second phase – the participatory community history. The final phase of the project was an exhibition at the Liverpool Regional Museum between 25 August and 15 December 2001, as part of the annual Pacific Wave festival. The exhibition was a multi-media display ranging from traditional Tais cloths to interactive CD-roms and videos.

What will the project achieve?

The overall project includes workshops, a community history project and a public exhibition, and promotes community cultural development and involvement at all stages of the project, developing practical skills and resources within the community.

In particular, the weekly art workshops for East Timorese youth, held over a 12 month period, were a critical vehicle and forum for community discussion and development of the artistic and creative abilities of the young participants and the facilitators.

The public program associated with the exhibition, like the exhibition itself, provides an opportunity for enhanced understanding of the issues faced by communities in Australia and East Timor today. The public program includes:

a community festival with music, food and dance;
a symposium where Australian soldiers and East Timorese families share experiences from East Timor; and
low fee art workshops where participants can paint stories about their ancestors on long wooden poles in keeping with the East Timorese “Lulik” tradition.

Project contact
Liverpool Regional Museum

Phone 02 9602 0315
Fax 02 9821 1479

Email peach@liverpoolmuseum.com

PO Box 190