Qantas says the new livery is based on a work by the late Northern Territory artist and senior Anmatyerre woman, Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Her 1991 painting, Yam Dreaming has been adapted for the aircraft by leading Indigenous-owned design studio Balarinji.
After emerging from the paintshop the aircraft, VH-ZND, which is to be named Emily Kame Kngwarreye, will undergo flight testing before being ferried to Alice Springs for a special welcome event on March 2.
“As the national carrier we’re thrilled to showcase another piece of Indigenous culture on one of our aircraft, and to reiterate our ongoing commitment to reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said.
“It’s a beautiful, bold artwork and so we hope it catches people’s eye and sparks a conversation about our country’s dynamic Indigenous culture.”
There was a hint of that “beautiful, bold” artwork when images of the aircraft on the Boeing flightline, featuring its painted tail, appeared on Twitter in late January.
— Jennifer Schuld (@JenSchuld) January 24, 2018
Prior to VH-ZND’s reveal, Qantas has had five aircraft – two Boeing 747-400s, one Boeing 747-300 and two 737s – painted with four different designs of Indigenous art, all designed in partnership with the Balarinji studio.
“It’s been a privilege to work with the brilliant imagery of the late Emily Kame Kngwarreye to create the airline’s fifth iconic Indigenous flying art aircraft. Emily was an extraordinary artist who is revered around the world,” managing director of Balarinji, Ros Moriarty, said.
“Born in 1910, she began painting only in later life, completing more than 3,000 exceptional works up until her death at 86 years of age. Her work embodies her cultural and spiritual connections to her country.”
VH-VND now joins Boeing 737-800 VH-XZJ, Mendoowoorrji, which is currently in Qantas service. The Mendoowoorrji design was inspired by Paddy Bedford’s painting Medicine Pocket and “captures the essence of Mendoowoorrji, Bedford’s mother’s country in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia”.
Previously, the Wunala Dreaming scheme featured on two Boeing 747-400s (VH-OJB from 1994-2003 and 747-400ER VH-OEJ from 2003-2011). The artwork was inspired by the Yanyuwa people from the Gulf of Carpentaria and was a celebration of the “reproduction of all living things in the continuing harmony of nature’s seasons”.
Meanwhile, Nalanji Dreaming was on 747-300 VH-EBU from 1995 until the aircraft was retired in 2005, and Yananyi Dreaming was introduced on 737-800 VH-VXB in 2002.
VH-ZND’s delivery next month will shortly be followed by the start of nonstop flights between Perth and London on March 24, linking the continents of Australia and Europe with regularly scheduled passenger flights for the first time.
Qantas has already taken delivery of three 787-9s which are currently operating Melbourne-Los Angeles international flights as well as limited Sydney-Melbourne domestic services to allow crews to build experience on the type.