Flying Art Series
We’re proud to bring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and stories to the world through our Flying Art Series.
On this page
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work, live and fly.
We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
Warning: this webpage includes names and images of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
About the series
Since 1995, through the Flying Art Series we've commissioned and displayed six striking Aboriginal artwork across our fleet. Leading First Nation design agency, Balarinji, has developed all the works in the series in collaboration with Aboriginal artists and their representatives.
‘Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa’ is the sixth aircraft in the Qantas-Balarinji Flying Art series and tells the Dreaming story of two sisters travelling back to their home. The younger sister has been lost for a long time in the south, and her big sister leads her north across vast distances. Comforting her younger sister, the older sister teaches her about the country they travel through. They stop on the way to perform Inma (sacred singing and dancing).
Balarinji designed the livery for Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa and the aircraft (registration: VH-X4A) was painted by Airbus in Mirabel, Canada, taking more than 2 weeks to complete. It features more than 20,000 dots, and is the most complex livery Airbus has ever completed for this aircraft type.
Aircraft livery is artistic impression and subject to change.
About the artist
Maringka Baker is a senior Pitjantjatjara artist from the remote community of Kanpi in far north west South Australia. Maringka began painting in order to tell her ancestral stories relating to travel, women’s ceremonial business, family connections and traditional lands.
Maringka is recognised as one of Australia’s most accomplished artists. She is credited with inspiring a new generation of First Nations artists from her family and community through teaching and mentoring.
From canvas to aircraft
This unique Qantas Dreamliner livery (registration: VH-ZND) was inspired by 1991 artwork ‘Yam Dreaming’, painted by the late artist, Emily Kame Kngwarreye.
The painting captures the essence of the yam plant, an important symbol in Emily’s Dreamtime story, and an important food source in her home region of Utopia, 230 kilometres north east of Alice Springs.
Yam Dreaming has been conceptualised by design studio, Balarinji, and for just the second time in our history, the iconic tail is included in the design, with our trademark red tail adapted to match the earthy red tones and white dotting technique of the original piece.
About the artist
A senior member of the Anmatyerre clan, ceremonial leader and a custodian of Dreaming sites in Alhalkere, Emily Kame Kngwarreye was introduced to art late in life through a government funded education program at Utopia, and in 1978 became a founding member of the Utopia Women’s Batik Group. Emily began painting on canvas in 1988 and over the next eight years quickly garnered attention for her remarkable body of work that embodied her deep spiritual and cultural connections to her country and community.
In 2008, the National Museum of Australia curated an expansive exhibition of Emily's work, featuring over 120 pieces. Visit the National Museum of Australia to learn more.
Mendoowoorrji was the fourth aircraft (B737-838) in the 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
Mendoowoorrji (registration: VH-XZJ) was painted at Boeing's headquarters in Seattle and delivered to the Qantas fleet in 2013. The design took over 950 person-hours to complete over a five day period using 500 litres of paint. Balarinji, Boeing designers and painters worked with 140 nylon stencils to recreate the intricate designs.
Yananyi Dreaming 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 history.
'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.
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. Over 200 stencils were used to create the intricate designs on the aircraft (registration: VH-VXB).
Balarinji worked closely with the Mutjulu Council and Indigenous Australian intellectual property specialists to licence Kulitja’s work.
'Nalanji' is a Yanyuwa word meaning 'our place'. Nalanji Dreaming is a celebration of the balance and harmony of nature in Australia. The 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 and motifs of Wunala Dreaming, launched the previous year.
Nalanji Dreaming was painted and unveiled in November 1995 to celebrate Qantas' 75th anniversary, and flew internationally from 1995 to 2005 (registration: VH-EBU).
Wunala Dreaming is the first Indigenous-designed livery inspired by Australia's natural colours, 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 2km of blotting paper. The 67 patterns, including 1,324 irregular dots were then traced onto the plane. The aircraft initially flew from 1994-2003 (VH-OJB, B747-438), then on a new aircraft from 2003-2011: Wunala Dreaming (VH-OEJ, B747-438).