Qantas Welcomes New Indigenous Flying Art Aircraft

The latest aircraft in Qantas’ Indigenous Flying Art series has touched down in Sydney, showing its new Aboriginal inspired livery design.


SYDNEY – November 12, 2013: The latest aircraft in Qantas’ Indigenous Flying Art series has touched down in Sydney, showing its new Aboriginal inspired livery design.

The livery on the brand new 737-800 aircraft was inspired by the work of late West Australian Aboriginal painter, Paddy Bedford. The aircraft named “Mendoowoorrji” is the fourth aircraft in Qantas’ flying art series, all of which have been in partnership with Australian designers Balarinji.

On board the aircraft for the ferry flight to Australia were special guests including Kathy Watson, the proud daughter of artist Paddy Bedford, Ros Moriarty Creative Director of Balarinji Studio, community elders and Qantas Ambassador Adam Goodes.

They were greeted on arrival by Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce and Minister for Tourism, George Souris.

Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said he was excited to see the aircraft for the first time as it touched down in Sydney from Boeing’s factory in Seattle.

“As the national carrier, Qantas has a proud history of featuring Indigenous art throughout its fleet and we are pleased to welcome the newest aircraft in our Indigenous flying art series,” said Mr. Joyce.

“The aircraft is a tribute to Aboriginal art and culture and is aimed at promoting cultural diversity and appreciation of Australia’s Indigenous heritage,” Mr. Joyce added.

Mr. Souris said that Sydney and NSW were pleased to welcome this new addition to the Qantas fleet.

“Sydney and NSW extend a warm welcome to this new Qantas aircraft, Mendoowoorrji, and its wonderful contemporary art, which captures the essence of our landscape and heritage. I am sure that international and domestic travelers will be thrilled to travel in such a wonderful aircraft,” Mr. Souris said.

The artwork on the B737 is an interpretation of the 2005 painting “Medicine Pocket,” which captures the essence of Mendoowoorrji, Paddy Bedford’s mother’s country in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. The aircraft itself has been named Mendoowoorrji in honor of this.

For this project, Qantas and Balarinji collaborated with the Bedford Trust and the National Gallery of Australia to ensure design of the fuselage stayed true to the original painting.

Qantas and Balarinji Design Studio have worked together for over two decades on aircraft livery projects and design work, including the current Qantas uniform. Balarinji designed the first Indigenous livery “Wunala Dreaming” on a B747 aircraft in 1994.

Balarinji’s Creative Director, Ros Moriarty, said: “It is a privilege to once again work with Qantas on an iconic Indigenous art aircraft, especially in our studio’s thirtieth year. Our partnership with Qantas is a wonderful celebration of Indigenous design, which carries artwork from the world’s oldest continuing culture to all corners of the globe.”

Paddy Bedford was born on Bedford Downs Station in West 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.

Warmun Art Centre Chairperson Mr. Gabriel Nodea said Bedford's influence is seen in the works of today's contemporary Gija artists.

"He was a good man – a great man," he said. "He inspired all of us with his painting and put Gija* on the map."

For the first time in the airline’s 93 year history, the iconic Qantas tail has been incorporated in the design, with the airline’s trademark red tail color behind the white kangaroo altered to match the earthy tones of Paddy Bedford’s art work.

“Mendoowoorrji” will fly to Broome and Canberra for promotional visits in coming weeks after it enters service across the Qantas domestic network. It will also operate east-west and intra WA flights as part of its regular scheduled services.

This is the 69th B737-800 in the Qantas Group fleet, with six additional aircraft to join between now and the end of 2014. With an average age of 7.9 years, the Qantas fleet is now its youngest since privatization.

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