Indigenous artist finds common ground

Walbunja artist Katrina Stewart presents her artwork Common Ground to Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld at Defence’s Russell offices, Canberra. Photo: Petty Officer Lee-Anne Cooper

Indigenous artist finds common ground

Concentric dots meticulously applied in red, white and blue, are at the heart of a painting by artist and Walbunja woman Katrina Stewart. 

The painting tells the story of Common Ground as part of Air Force’s Our Place, Our Skies strategy and was presented to Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld in early November. 

Ms Stewart travelled to Air Force headquarters in Canberra from her South Coast home for the presentation. 

She spoke about the artwork that will appear on the cover the Air Force Indigenous Affairs Action Plan.

“It represents strength, support and acknowledgment and how empowered we are when we become one,” Ms Stewart said.

The painting has five sections representing cultural awareness, guidance, retention, recruitment and community engagement. 

Air Marshall Hupfeld was moved by the thought put into the artwork and said it surpassed his expectations. 

“It is absolutely phenomenal and so powerful. You have captured my overall Air Force strategy,” he said.

“What you said is at the heart of what I am trying to do across Air Force.”

Five pathways heading to the painting’s centre represent different ways to become an Air Force member. 

Ms Stewart spoke of how she felt when she was asked by her daughter, who is in the Air Force, to do the painting. 

“I was given an 18-page document and asked for a concept proof,” Ms Stewart said.

“But I don’t draw, I paint.

“I was overwhelmed, but excited.” 

After a month working into the late hours of the night from the quiet of her garage overlooking mountains, Ms Stewart said it became apparent the painting was more than she expected it to be.

“I feel like it is relatable to everyone. It’s everyone’s life,” Ms Stewart said.

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