Myths & Noodles

Update on Myths & Murals

The wet season left Myths and Murals marooned over recent months, but Chris Parkinson reports on some exciting progress.

Next stops for Myths and Murals – through Lospalos, Baucau and Manatuto – were scheduled for April, but then the rains came. And the roads out to the east, dubbed locally as ‘hanesan supermi’ (like noodles) became unpassable.  No-one could drive in soupy noodles and the Arte Moris crew was grounded.

Then last week, the rain abated and the caravan of courage and conciliation emerged again from Dili like a warming sun.

Los Palos is at the far east of East Timor and represents the head of the crocodile in the country’s mythology. Engagement and hunger for books again exceeded our expectations. Arte Moris led young people from the community through the process of re-imagining their own region’s myths as a mural in a public space, creating another narrative promoting unity in the country’s independence. In Venilale, a winding detour from Los Palos, the appetite remained much the same. More books. More murals. More smiles. More sunlight. Manatuto echoed the energy and sated the project’s wanderlust during the wet season.

In total, over 1800 Tetun versions of The Boy and the Crocodile book were distributed to eager kids, some of whom have never seen a book before, much less one in their own language and about their own creation myth.

And nine huge murals – painted in collaboration with older youth in each district, and depicting scenes from the creation myth – are left as symbolic reminders of the indomitable spirit of East Timor and the spirit of collaboration itself.

An offshoot of Myths & Murals, the Animatism Project, is set to take over Dili in November, and will include:

•    Distribution and exhibition of the book, Peace of Wall: Street Art from East Timor (Affirm Press, 2010) alongside works presented by our partners Arte Moris (East Timor’s Free Art School);
•    A showcase by breakdancer Joseph Richardson and musician Bryan Phillips, working with young East Timorese in Dili and nearby districts;
•    A residency by leading comic book publisher Michael Fikaris, working with young East Timorese in Dili on new comic book stories to publish and share between Australia and East Timor.

Myths & Murals continues to gain momentum. If you haven’t already, get on board.

On Saturday, October 12, Chris will be talking at the Graeme F Smith Peace Trust Annual Dinner in Adelaide about some of our journeys.

Photos by Arte Moris’s Mariano Goncalves.

Passing on some Good News

Today we received an email from Barbara Woodberry at Abilidade Téknika Pre-Eskolár (ATPE). We had the pleasure of working with ATPE following the release of The Boy and the Crocodile, donating copies of the book and supporting them during the production of their own titles. We’re delighted to hear that ATPE are going strong, and that Croc continues to appear in Timorese classrooms. Thanks, Barbara!
Hi Martin,
You may not remember me – I was the lady who came to see you about children’s story books for Timor. Our project took off and I have been able to find sponsors for most books, which has enabled me to move with some speed.
I just wanted to thank you for the help and encouragement you gave me – the first 8,000 of our books are on the high seas to Timor and the next 12,000 on the high seas from China! The next 8,000 are in the planning, giving a total of 12 story books. Now to find the next 12 sponsors. At that point I think they will be ready for another project to write and illustrate their own story books, as they should really understand the essentials of a children’s story book; and my job should be over.
Hinkler have been fantastic – Mark Mobsby and his assistant are very supportive of the project. They also
publish lots of activity pads, so I am making up one of those in Tetum to test the market.
Thank you for the labaril ho lafaek (The Boy and the Crocodile) books that you donated – the teachers love them. We are giving them out as we teach our training module ‘Reading to children for the story’.
Thank you once again.
Kind regards,
Barbara Woodberry

Abilidade Téknika Pre-Eskolár (ATPE) supports pre-school teachers in Timor-Leste by producing children’s story books, jigsaws, posters and classroom resources. ATPE also design, develop and deliver professional development training for pre-school Timorese teachers. ATPE trainers are also available to visit schools to support and mentor the teachers in their classroom.

ATPE develops its own resources to serve the needs of pre-primary teachers. This need for resources includes teachers and children having access to a range of children’s picture story books in Tetum. Every child has the right to books, and the desire to readstarts when a child is read to! For more information, see

Spot the Ghost – Martin on a recent trip to East Timor, distributing books.

Melbourne’s Literature Lane gets a lick of East-Timor paint

Introduced in our previous post, here’s a pic of the mural visiting artists from Arte Moris, Gil and Ili, created on the their recent visit to Melbourne. If you’re local, take a wander down Literature Lane, just near the State Library, for a gander.

Atauro to Melbourne

Illi and Gil from our East Timorese partners, Arte Moris, are in Melbourne to paint and participate in workshops being run during SIGNAL 37, a summer creative art program for Melbourne youth.

Their last trip was to Atauro, an island 25km north of Dili, where they were rolling out the Myths and Murals project. These lads get around. Thanks to Mariano Goncalves from Arte Moris for these pics.

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