The fourth and the latest aircraft in Qantas’ Indigenous Flying Art series has touched down in Sydney. The new livery on the aircraft was inspired by the work of the late West Australian Aboriginal painter, Paddy Bedford. Named aptly as the “Mendoowoorrji” the Boeing 737-800 aircraft has been designed in collaboration with Australian designers Balarinji.
Qantas arranged seats for some very special guests on board the ferry flight from Boeing’s factory in Seattle to Sydney. Guests included Kathy Watson, the daughter of the late Paddy Bedford, Ros Moriarty Creative Director of Balarinji Studio, community elders and Qantas Ambassador Adam Goodes.
Upon arrival at Sydney the guests were greeted by Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce and George Souris, Minister for Tourism.
Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce was visibly excited when he remarked that he was thrilled to see the aircraft for the first time as it touched down after its maiden flight from Seattle to Sydney. Mr. Joyce also mentioned that as the national carrier, Qantas has a long and proud history of featuring indigenous art throughout its fleet and they are pleased to welcome the newest member to their fleet of Indigenous Flying Art series. Needless to mention, the aircraft is a rich tribute to the nation’s Aboriginal art and culture and is aimed at promoting the cultural diversity that the country enjoys and help people from all around the globe see and appreciate its rich indigenous heritage. He also mentioned, both Sydney and NSW are very pleased to welcome the newest aircraft in the Qantas fleet.
Mr. Souris mentioned that Sydney and NSW offers a warm welcome to Mendoowoorrji and its beautiful contemporary artwork that captures the essence of Australia’s rugged landscape and heritage. He also expressed his confidence that both domestic and international travellers will be excited to travel in such an iconic aircraft.
The artwork and livery on the aircraft is an interpretation of the 2005 painting by Paddy Bedford known as “Medicine Pocket”. It captures the essence of Mendoowoorrji, Bedford’s mother’s country in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. The name Mendoowoorrji has been given to the 737-800 in honour of this. Incidentally this is the first time in the history of the airlines’ 93 years that the colour of the iconic Qantas tail has been changed to match the earthy tones of Paddy Bedford’s painting.
In order to maintain the spirit of the painting in the design of the aircraft Qantas roped in the services of Balarinji and they collaborated with the Bedford Trust and the National Gallery of Australia to make sure that the design elements on the fuselage remained the same as the original painting.
It is worthy to mention here that Qantas and Balarinji have more than two decades of experience working together on aircraft livery projects and similar design work. They have also worked on the current Qantas fleet of Indigenous Flying Art series aircrafts. Their association started with the design of the first Indigenous livery “Wunala Dreaming” on a B747 aircraft back in 1994.
Ros Moriarty, Balarinji’s Creative Director mentioned that it is indeed a privilege, to be able to work once again with Qantas on an iconic Indigenous aircraft design project and that too on the thirteenth year of their studio. He added that the partnership with Qantas is a celebration of Australia’s Indigenous art and a chance to showcase the world’s oldest continuing culture to every corner of the globe.
Paddy Bedford was born on Bedford Downs Station in Western Australia. For a large part of his life he worked as a stockman before taking up painting in his 70’s. Paddy Bedford founded the Warmun art movement and has been instrumental in inspiring a generation of Indigenous artists.
Mr. Gabriel Nodea, Chairman of the Warmun Art Centre, mentioned, that Bedford has left an unmistakable impression on the minds of numerous Indigenous painters and the work of today’s contemporary Gija artists undoubtedly reflect that impression in their work. He also went on to say that Bedford was a good man – a great man, who inspired all the contemporary artists with his work and was the one who put Gija on the world map.
During the coming weeks “Mendoowoorrji” will fly to Broome and Canberra for initial promotional visits after it enters service as a part of Qantas’ domestic fleet. The aircraft will also operate east-west and intra WA flights as part of regular services across Australia.
The Mendoowoorrji is the 69th B737-800 in the Qantas Group fleet and an additional six more aircrafts scheduled to join the carrier between now and the end of 2014. With an average age of 7.9 years, the Qantas fleet is now at its youngest since the time of its privatisation.