While Flight Lieutenant Aimee McCartney may not be a household name in the Australian art world, there’s little doubt her artwork has people talking in Air Force.
CAPTION: Flight Lieutenant Aimee McCartney stands before her painting titled ‘Nawu’ – one of the many traditional artworks now on display at her first solo exhibition in Melbourne. Story by John Noble.
Flight Lieutenant McCartney’s contemporary Aboriginal artistic creations are turning heads, not only because of their wonderful use of colour and style, but also through their reflection of the deep and enduring ties Air Force has with Australia’s First Nations history and culture.
A former Indigenous liaison officer with Air Force, and now with Headquarters Air Academy at East Sale, Flight Lieutenant McCartney has been creating unique works of traditional art for many years – including for Air Force.
The most notable of these is an artwork titled Continued Friendship, a painting of an AFL football symbolising the enduring relationship between the Australian and US air forces – which is on display at the Pentagon in Washington.
Flight Lieutenant McCartney has also designed footballs for the Air Force football team and as parting gifts for members of 30 Squadron.
It’s a creative outlet she finds incredibly rewarding.
“It is very important to me to be able to serve my country and to express my connection to country, culture and community through my artwork,” Flight Lieutenant McCartney said.
“My time is spent serving my country and then painting the stories of my country. I do this by being proud of who I am and where I have come from. I tell our stories through the vivid oral histories and by putting a paint brush to canvas.”
So highly regarded are Flight Lieutenant McCartney’s artworks that she has been offered a unique opportunity to display her work as part of Melbourne’s annual Yirramboi Festival.
The exhibition, called ‘Gaanbona’ – translating to ‘bright and happy’ in Taungurung language of the Eastern Kulin Nations – will be Flight Lieutenant McCartney’s first solo exhibition.
“While the exhibition won’t feature any items I have produced for Air Force, all of the pieces explore my ancestral ties and memories of country in dynamic colour, intricate patterns and bold designs invoking a feeling of joy and positivity,” she said.
Flight Lieutenant McCartney’s hope was to continue the sacred tradition of storytelling through art and to inspire people to connect and learn about First Nations’ culture, history, stories and language.
“Air Force recognises the unique position held by First Nations peoples and communities and we acknowledge the wisdoms that enhance our workforce culture,” she said.
“The early insight and knowledge of aerodynamics demonstrated in the boomerang, spear, Woomera and bullroarer is today honoured by the new generation of Air Force Indigenous servicemen and women as we apply modern knowledge to the protection of our skies.
“I really feel Air Force continues its commitment to work with Australia’s First Peoples to honour and celebrate the richness and diversity of the world’s oldest living culture.
“Together we are proud Australians carrying on with the shared responsibility and privilege of protecting our country and its skies.”
Flight Lieutenant McCartney’s solo exhibition is on show now, until May 14, at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre in Melbourne.