Monthly Archives: February 2013

Timor-Leste revisited


Photo: Conor Ashleigh © 2009 All rights reserved. A Dominican Nun taunts one of their communities dogs in Dili, Timor-Leste.

I was fresh out of school when I first traveled to Timor-Leste in 2005. My memories from that trip are still incredibly clear starting with the small hut at the airport where one had to apply for a visa. I also vividly recall how  Dili seemed to have more destroyed buildings than functioning ones, as we moved through the capital I recall being astounded at the countless numbers of decaying UN vehicles, most of which were destroyed  during the crisis in 1999.


Photo: Conor Ashleigh © 2009 All rights reserved. Local police officers travel back to base after patrolling a soccer game in Viqueque between rival teams.


Photo: Conor Ashleigh © 2009 All rights reserved. A brother shaves his siblings hair outside their family shop in Dili, Timor-Leste.


It is without a doubt that aspects of Timor society has developed  since 1999 and even 2005, but to what extent considering the time and money invested by the development community and Timorese government. It was last year whilst back in Timor  I attempted to provide a reponse to the notions of  ‘what is development’ and ‘how do we define progress’ in my photo essay Timor in progress is viewable on my website here.


Photo: Conor Ashleigh © 2012 All rights reserved. Police officers inspect the damage to the front windows of Hotel Timor after May Day protestors threw bricks and stones at the waterfront hotel.

As I prepare to fly back out to Timor-Leste this evening I have been digging through my archive and pulling out some interesting pictures I made on my second trip to Timor-Leste in 2009. During those three months in Timor I covered the 10 year anniversary since the historic referendum for independence. While in Timor I also spent a decent amount of time working on a few different projects including the Futu Manu (cock fights) which can be seen here on my website. In 2010 my series Futu Manu was included in the group exhibition Growing Pains at Fotofreo a biannual photo festival held in Fremantle, Australia. A review of the exhibition is available on Foto8 here.

It was also in 2009 that I began learning first hand about the labour intensiveness of coffee production. Returning to the Emera district, one of the largest coffee producers in Timor-Leste, I was able to document the many hands that touch each coffee bean en route to a coffee cup in Australia, Europe or the United States. I hope to learn more about coffee production in the coming weeks.

Photo: Conor Ashleigh © 2009 All rights reserved. Coffee farmers who belong to the local coffee cooperative in Eroulo village load bags of coffee to be transported to Dili.

Photo: Conor Ashleigh © 2009 All rights reserved. A coffee farmer picks ripe coffee cherries outside her village of Eroulo, in the coffee growing district of Emera, Timor-Leste.