Qantas Flying Art series
We're proud to bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and stories to the world through our Flying Art series. Since 1994, we've commissioned and displayed four striking Indigenous liveries on Boeing 747s and 737s. The works have been developed by Indigenous owned design agency Balarinji in collaboration with Aboriginal artists and their representatives.
737-800 Mendoowoorrji was the fourth aircraft in Qantas' Flying Art Series, inspired by the work of late West Australian Aboriginal painter, Paddy Bedford. Mendoowoorrji is an interpretation of Bedford's 2005 painting Medicine Pocket, which captures the essence of Bedford's mother's country called Mendoowoorrji.
Paddy Bedford was born on Bedford Downs Station in Western Australia and worked as a stockman for much of his life before taking up painting in his 70s. He was a founder of the Warmun art movement and was credited for inspiring a generation of Indigenous artists.
For this project, Qantas and Balarinji collaborated with the Bedford Trust and the National Gallery of Australia to ensure the design of the fuselage stayed true to the original painting. The work is licenced by the Estate of the Late Paddy Bedford and Balarinji.
Mendoowoorrji was painted at Boeing's headquarters in Seattle and delivered to the Qantas fleet in November 2013. The design took over 950 person-hours to complete over a five day period. It used 500 litres (125 kilograms) of paint.
Balarinji and Boeing designers and painters worked with 140 nylon stencils to recreate the intricate designs. The livery used novel techniques to achieve the paint strokes and detailed shading on the fuselage.
Yananyi Dreaming was a 737-800 aircraft, and was developed by Balarinji using motifs painted by Central Australian artist Rene Kulitja. Kulitja was inspired by the vibrant colours of the dramatic landscape surrounding Uluru.
Uluru has dominated the Australian Western Desert landscape for millions of years. The Anangu people have lived in the region for more than 40,000 years, maintaining their special sites and unique culture. Through song, dance and art, they tell their Tjukurrpa - Anangu Dreaming stories of land and journeys that hold their knowledge and their Law. Dances are passed on from generation to generation, teaching Anangu ways of life and histories.
'Yananyi' means going or travelling. In Yananyi Dreaming, radiating pathways lead to the symbol of Uluru, depicted both as a physical form surrounded by kurkara (desert oak trees) and as an abstract representation of concentric circles.
Blue hills (tali) rise from the desert landscape and Mala (rufous hare-wallaby) tracks are imprinted on the sand. Lungkata (the blue tongue lizard) basks in the hot sun in this fragile and ancient place. Yananyi Dreaming is a strong Uluru story.
Rene Kulitja describes her artistic works for Yananyi Dreaming:
"This is my traditional place. I am a Pitjantjatjara woman. My pictures tell about the landscape, the animals and the plants of Uluru. We go hunting in the desert for tjala (honey ant) and lungkata (blue tongued lizard). I am a Traditional Owner at Uluru. My husband, my kids and I - we love this country."
Yananyi Dreaming was painted at Boeing's headquarters in Seattle using 484.5 litres of paint. It took over 2,000 person-hours across six days. 200 large plastic stencils,ff each 7mm thick and measuring 1.27 metres x 3 metres, defined the overall design. 63 pieces of nylon stencil ranging in size from 0.5 metres x 1.5 metres to 1.25 metres x 5.6 metres created the more intricate designs.
Balarinji worked closely with the Mutjulu Council and Indigenous intellectual property specialists to licence Kulitja’s work.
Wunala Dreaming was inspired by the natural colours of Australia, from the bright reds of Central Australia, to the purple-blues of desert mountain ranges, and the lush greens of Kakadu.
John and Ros Moriarty, founders of Balarinji, explained the Wunala Dreaming story of John’s Yanyuwa people from the Gulf of Carpentaria:
"In Dreamtime journeys, spirit ancestors in the form of kangaroos (Wunala) make tracks from camps to waterholes, leading the people to water and food. Today, as they have for centuries, Aboriginal people re-enact such journeys through song and dance 'corroborees'. These ensure the procreation of all living things in the continuing harmony of nature's seasons."
Wunala Dreaming was digitalised on computer and magnified 100 times to generate two kilometres of blotting paper. This allowed the 67 patterns - including 1,324 irregular dots - to be traced onto the plane.
Wunala Dreaming was carried on VH-OJB until the 747 aircraft was decommissioned in 2003. The artwork was then transferred to VH-OEJ from 2003 until 2011.
'Nalanji' is a Yanyuwa word meaning 'our place'. Nalanji Dreaming is a celebration of the balance and harmony of nature in 'our place', Australia. Inspired by Australia's ancient cultural traditions dating back more than 40,000 years, contemporary artwork Nalanji Dreaming reflects the lush colour palette of tropical Australia. The themes of the coast and reef were designed to complement the Red Centre and Northern Territory palette and motifs of Wunala Dreaming, launched the previous year.
Qantas Boeing 747-338 VH-EBU was painted as Nalanji Dreaming in late 1995. It was unveiled in November 1995 to celebrate Qantas' 75th anniversary, and flew internationally from 1995 to 2005.
Purchasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art
In many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the production and sale of art work is an important driver of economic development and empowerment. We are proud to promote the ethical purchasing of Indigenous art through our Supporter membership of the Indigenous Art Code.
Learn more about the Indigenous Art Code and read tips on how to purchase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
Balarinji is an Indigenous-owned design agency. It was established in 1983 by Ros and John Moriarty to foster the design careers of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and designers. It seeks to promote a new sense of national identity through design and public art.
Qantas' Reconciliation Action Plan
The Flying Art Series is a flagship part of the Qantas Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
The Qantas RAP details the steps we're taking to promote reconciliation and Indigenous economic development and to share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture with our customers and the world.
Learn more about the Qantas RAP.Back to top