Talking about Timor Leste

I have a presentation coming up soon, as part of the Arts Education 2011 Colloquium series at the University of Melbourne. If you are in Melbourne, please come along:

Date:         Monday, 1st August, 2011
Time:         5.15 – 6.45 pm
Venue:      Frank Tate Room, Level 9, 100 Leicester Street, Carlton

Toka Boot [Big Jam]: Four months making music in East Timor

From October 2010 until the end of January 2011, musician Gillian Howell undertook an Asialink artist residency in East Timor [Timor Leste]. This presentation describes – through words, pictures and video– the fruits of that residency, and some of the challenges that arose. From a concert for Human Rights Day in Baucau, to informal jams with children on the veranda of her house, to workshops in kindergartens, language classes, and remote mountain villages, Gillian’s experiences revealed much about what it can be to be a musician within a community.

Gillian’s experiences also reveal the complexity of being an outsider in Timorese society. She considers this with reference to Timor Leste’s legacies of centuries of European colonialism, brutal years of occupation, times of conflict and times of fragile peace and UN Administration, and how this history has influenced Timorese interactions with malae [foreigners].

This was not a research project, but a documented music residency in a remote community. Gillian reflects on her experiences as a practitioner working in this somewhat isolated environment, with descriptions drawn from her online journal (, illustrated by films and photographs taken during the residency.


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