Balarinji welcomes our fifth aircraft design in the Qantas-Balarinji flying art series, Emily Kame Kngwarreye 787 Dreamliner. Balarinji created the fuselage design based on the internationally renowned artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s 1991 painting ‘Yam Dreaming’.


A Qantas-Balarinji art aircraft typically takes two years from concept to launch. Over that time, Balarinji works with Qantas Engineering, Boeing and Boeing’s design agency, Teague, to take a 2-D vision into 3-D renders and eventually onto the aircraft fuselage in the Boeing paint facility in Seattle, USA. 


Balarinji deconstructs an original painting and reforms it as a design that works around a fuselage, in a way that responds to the viewer from all angles – from the ground, from an air bridge, in the sky. Scale, colour, distribution of motifs and compatibility with Qantas branding and safety requirements are carefully considered.


Some simplification of a painting like 'Yam Dreaming' is necessary to make it possible for Balarinji to create a design for a 'canvas' the size of a 787 Dreamliner. Emily Kngwarreye's subtle layers of colour-blended dots is interpreted as a base colour gradient that stretches the length of the fuselage. 


More than 5000 individual dots identical in shape and placement to the original painting, were meticulously applied to achieve the sight lines from the ground and the air of a faithful representation of the original painting. The colours draw from Emily's palette, and reflect the Central Australian landscape of her birth and life. Best practice Intellectual Property management ensured the integrity of the art was preserved in translation.

The Emily Kame Kngwarreye Dreamliner was recognised for its design excellence in celebrating Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art and culture and was awarded Gold in the Graphic Design - Identity and Branding category of the 2019 Sydney Design Awards.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye Yam Dreaming
Emily Kame Kngwarreye

'Yam Dreaming’, 1991

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Synthetic polymer on canvas

230 x 150cm

Image courtesy Campbelltown City Council Permanent Collection Purchased 1995 by Campbelltown City Council with assistance from the Australia Council
© Artistic Work, Estate of Emily Kame Kngwarreye/Copyright Agency, Sydney

Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Photo Greg Weight. Courtesy of Qantas.


Wunala Dreaming (back) and Nalanji Dreaming (front)

Wunala Dreaming


Wunala Dreaming, meaning kangaroo in the Yanyuwa language spoken by families in the Northern Territory’s Gulf of Carpentaria, celebrated the ceremony tracks of the kangaroo spirit ancestors and the continuation of all living things in the harmony of nature.

This artwork from the Balarinji Design Collection held by the National Museum of Australia appeared on two Qantas 747-400 (VH-OJB) from 1994 until 2003.

Nalanji Dreaming


Nalanji meaning ‘Our Place’, was a celebration of the balance of nature in Australia and reflected the lush colour palette of tropical Australia.

This artwork from the Balarinji Design Collection held by the National Museum of Australia appeared on a Qantas 747-300 from 1995 up until the aircraft was retired in 2005.

Yananyi Dreaming


Yananyi Dreaming


Yananyi Dreaming drew on the work of Pitjantjatjara artist Rene Kulitja who painted her dramatic country surrounding Uluru. The design shows pathways leading to the symbol of Uluru, illustrated as both a physical form, and as an abstract representation of concentric circles.

Yananyi Dreaming was a 737 aircraft launched in 2002.


Inspired by the work of the late West Australian Gija painter, Paddy Bedford, Mendoowoorrji is an interpretation of the 2005 painting ‘Medicine Pocket’ which captures the essence of Bedford’s mother’s country in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The Mendoowoorrji 737 was delivered to Qantas in 2013, taking over 950-man hours to complete over a five-day period. It remains in the Qantas fleet today.