Our flying art series, in collaboration with internationally renowned Australian design studio Balarinji, involved working with individual artists to produce some of the most striking and original looking aircraft to ever take to the sky.
There have been four Qantas aircraft previously painted in Indigenous art livery since 1994. Two different Boeing 747-438 aircraft were painted as 'Wunala Dreaming', a Boeing 747-338 as 'Nalanji Dreaming' and two Boeing 737-838 as 'Yananyi Dreaming' and, most recently, 'Mendoowoorrji'.
The B737-800 aircraft named "Mendoowoorrji" is the fourth aircraft in Qantas' flying art series, inspired by the work of late West Australian Aboriginal painter, Paddy Bedford.
The artwork on the B737-800 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.
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.
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.
Mendoowoorrji was painted at Boeing's headquarters in Seattle, USA and delivered into the Qantas fleet in November 2013. The design took over 950 man hours to complete over a five days period and used 500 litres and 125kg of paint.
The designers worked with 140 nylon stencils to re-created the more intricate design. The techniques used to achieve the paint strokes and detailed shading on the fuselage were a Boeing first.
'Yananyi Dreaming', a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, was designed by Balarinji using individual motifs painted by Rene Kulitja whose vibrant colours are inspired by 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 Tjukurpa - Anangu stories of land and journeys that hold their knowledge and their Law. Dances from the Tjukurpa teaching Anangu way of life and history of their land are passed on from generation to generation, keeping culture strong.
'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 Hair - Wallaby) tracks are imprinted on the sand. Lungkata (Blue tongued Lizard) basks in the hot sun in this fragile and ancient place. 'Yananyi Dreaming' is the 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 Seattle headquarters using 484.5 litres of paint and over 2,000 man hours across six days. 200 large plastic stencils, each 7mm thick and measuinrg 1.27m x 3 m defined the overall design. 63 pieces of nylon stencil ranging in size from 0.5m x 1.5m to 1.25m x 5.6m created the more intricate designs.
The story of 'Wunala' started thousands of years ago with ancient Dreamtime journeys of Australia's Aboriginal people and was celebrated in 1994 when Qantas commissioned a painting from Balarinji Designs
A team of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists developed distinctive imagery using a contemporary graphic style featuring motifs from Northern and Central Australia to create one of the world's largest pieces of modern art - a unique B747-400.
The design was inspired by the natural colours of Australia, from the bright red sunsets of Uluru to the blue-lavenders of the Flinders Ranges to the lush green apple colours of Kakadu.
John and Ros Moriarty, principals of Balarinji Design, explained the 'Wunala Dreaming' of the Yanyuwa people from the Gulf of Carpenteria:
"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 2 kilometres of blotting paper. This allowed the 67 patterns - including 1324 irregular dots - to be traced onto the plane.
'Nalanji' is a word for '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 40,000 years, the contemporary artwork 'Nalanji Dreaming' reflects the lush colour palette of tropical Australia.
Qantas Boeing 747-338 VH-EBU was repainted as Nalanji Dreaming in late 1995 and was unveiled in November 1995 to celebrate the Qantas 75th anniversary in that year. It flew its first commercial service from Sydney to Tokyo on 16 November 1995. It flew its final service in 2005 before retirement.