Timorese women nowadays are expressing themselves across a vast range of areas, including the arts, both through traditional weaving of the tais and baskets and also through contemporary paintings.Maria Imaculada Madeira is a Timorese artist. “I learnt to draw when I was little. I used to draw furniture and I would be always very focused on what I drew,” she said last week, in an interview at TDW offices in Colmera, Dili.
Despite not yet being a famous artist in Timor-Leste, Maria Madeira has done many sculptures and paintings dominating many galleries, in particular in Western Australia. Maria Madeira was born in Ermera in 1969 and lives in Australia, even though she travels back and forth to Timor for inspiration for her art and now as well for her Doctoral studies and research.The arts have always been a passion for Maria and she believes painting is not difficult if it is your calling. “If as a child we get use to using colours, we will later be able to paint. Through painting we can express our words and what we want.”Painting is nonetheless a talent that needs to be fostered and through painting people are able to express thoughts they may otherwise be too shy to express.“When I was a child I used to draw, then after getting into Primary, Pre-Secondary and Secondary School I kept interested in topics that had to do with culture. At that time I was at school in Portugal and I was very happy because Portugal is a nation that is culturally rich. So I was very happy and developed an interest in poetry, painting and music,” she added.The interest in the arts followed her from Portugal to Australia, where she moved with her family. There, Maria’s talent developed with the support of her high school art teacher who taught better painting techniques.“I went to secondary school in Australia where the school curriculum for the Arts is of a very high standard. I chose the Arts and then teachers at that time were very supportive and helped me. That is how my talent for the Arts really started showing.”“After I completed [high school] I did a Fine Arts Degree for three years and that is when I decided I wanted to live as an Artist. The Timorese people living in Australia always got together as well to for activities and that is when I figured I could speak about my identity and my culture through my paintings and my sculptures,” she said.Maria Madeira did not stop there and after her three year degree she continued on to further her studies and become an Art teacher and as well received a Political Science Degree.Her style of painting is more abstract. “My talent, my thoughts, reflect mostly my memories of Timor, in particular the massacre of Santa Cruz on 12 November . I started painting women crying, birds, and in an abstract way I spoke my message through painting.”Maria would like very much to help write an Arts Curriculum for schools because there is an important connection between contemporary art and traditions.“I conducted a research project entitled “Tatoli ba Kultura” and through this research project I started noticing that most of the traditional arts are done by women, such as weaving baskets and tais, which has been very important to the dissemination of our culture to the outside world. We cannot just forget the traditions of our grandmothers that they left behind for us,” she added.
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