Penny Tweedie, one of a select group of professional photographers who have contributed irreplaceable images to the documentary record of East Timor’s modern history, died tragically in England on 09 January 2011.
Her photographs of events and people in East Timor in the immediate aftermath of the dramatic 1975 civil war will be especially important to future generations of East Timorese. Her contribution to East Timor’s archival record will live on in these images.
Some details of her extraordinary working life can be found in an obituary in The Guardian (UK).
A small number of Penny’s 1975 Timor images are well-known – though often circulated on the internet without any attribution to, or knowledge of, the original creator.
Penny was very protective of her professional copyright and was unhappy with unauthorised use of her work. For this reason, we have not reproduced any of those images here.
A number of agencies handle commercial distribution of Penny’s work and carry samples of her Timor photographs on their websites. The most comprehensive set of 1975 images can be found at Panos.
Many 1975 images still unseen
A much larger number of images from her 1975 visit to East Timor have yet to be seen publicly. In personal communications with CHART in 2009-10, Penny advised she had some 50 rolls of black and white film.
Penny agreed to a CHART request to place copies of all these images on this website; the mechanics of achieving this must now await later discussions with her Estate.
Tweedie materials already in Timor Leste
Official copies of some of Penny Tweedie’s key images from 1975 are already held in Timor. Some are in the collection of the Commission for Reception, Truth & Reconciliation (CAVR). We know from correspondence with Penny that the office of President Jose Ramos-Horta was given high resolution scans of some 190 images in early 2010.
CHART hopes these images will one day be accessible to all Timorese. We will endeavour to ensure all the as-yet-unseen images from Penny Tweedie’s Timor work eventually become accessible in Timor-Leste as a lasting testimonial to her part in recording the country’s troubled recent history.
Penny Tweedie image: Self-portrait taken from her own website.
1975 image: Courtesy of Bob Hannan.
More Penny Tweedie obituaries and reflections online
BBC4 audio. “Last Word”. 28 January 2011. Speakers include John Pilger and her son, Ben Tweedie. Segment begins at 15 minutes into program.