Australia – the world’s only island continent and sixth largest country, isolated by ‘the tyranny of distance’ – latched onto aviation as an important means of communication from the very onset of powered flight.
CAPTION: Australian aviation artist Drew Harrison puts finishing touches on the artwork he was commissioned to paint to mark the Centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force. Image supplied.
It wasn’t long after that flying machines became an important and integral weapon of war – and defence – and again, Australia embraced the technology.
Now, in 2021, the world’s second oldest air force celebrates its Centenary.
The Royal Australian Air Force was officially born on 31 March 1921.
To mark its centenary, the RAAF will officially kick off a long list of birthday celebrations in Canberra today, 31 March 2021, with the presentation of a new Queen’s Colour at Government House and a spectacular flyover comprising up to 60 aircraft.
The flypast and ceremonial elements will be televised live by the ABC from 10am until noon.
This major event in Canberra is but the first of many events this year, culminating in the spectacular RAAF-centric Australian International Airshow at Avalon, Victoria, in November/December (check for new dates).
CONTACT supporter and official ADF merchandiser BrandNet has been engaged by the Royal Australian Air Force to make sure those who wish to remember the RAAF’s Centenary have a wide range of options to do so, with everything from caps and shirts to a spectacular specially-commissioned artwork by Drew Harrison – one of Australia’s leading military and aviation artists.
This unique acrylic-on-canvas triptych, with each of its parts measuring 1m X 1m, will be a significant asset to RAAF HQ.
But, while the original may be locked away, never to be seen again in public (except on special occasions), avid collectors will be able to purchase limited-edition reproductions to hang in lounge rooms or board rooms, pool rooms or corporate headquarters.
The first option is a full-sized replica on three canvasses, encased in a single shadow frame.
Each of these 100 items will also include a small disc of metal punched from Australia’s first F/A-18A Hornet – A21-001.
This top-flight item, limited to 100 units (with several key numbers already reserved for special presentations), and costing $4450, is expected to sell out fast.
But, there are other options…
– three reduced-size prints on canvas, combined into one shadow frame measuring 1800mm x 600mm, limited to 250 copies at $2490 each
– or three reduced-size prints on canvas, combined into one shadow frame measuring 1200mm X 400mm, also limited to 250 copies at $1495 each.
The original artwork, painted by Drew Harrison, is entitled ‘Then. Now. Always.’ and took more than 400 hours to complete.
It has a visual narrative that tracks from bottom left to top right across all three panels – beginning with the origins of the RAAF at Point Cook in 1921, leading up to the current expansion into space in 2021.
Drew said he took cues from the RAAF 100 logo imagery and the phrase THEN-NOW-ALWAYS.
He also incorporated 38 different aircraft in the piece. They are listed here – but, just for fun (no prizes), see how many you can pick from the image (click to enlarge) before you check the list.
“At the centre of the composition I featured a single pilot figure as a unifying element intended to represent all the invaluable personnel who have contributed to the Royal Australian Air Force’s fabric,” Drew said.
BrandNet managing director Stephen Davie said ‘Then. Now. Always.’ was a truly outstanding piece of military artwork.
“The opportunity to own a high-quality reproduction of this stunning image is one not to be missed in the Royal Australian Air Force’s centenary year.”