No. 22 Squadron recently commissioned Aboriginal artist and Wiradjuri woman Trudy Sloan to create an artwork depicting the squadron’s eagle motif.
Now prominently displayed in the squadron’s headquarters at RAAF Base Richmond, the artwork is a visual reminder of the contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make to serving their country, past and present, and their spiritual connection to country.
The eagle is part of the squadron’s rich World War II history and the artwork shows the eagle as the protector of the land, rivers and people.
Commanding Officer No. 22 Squadron Wing Commander Trent Harris said the new artwork created a connection between the squadron and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“It’s based on nose art from one of No. 22 Squadron's aircraft and the eagle motif was also displayed outside the squadron lines while they were deployed in Papua New Guinea,” Wing Commander Harris said.
“It highlights the unique and differing perspective that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples bring to the Air Force.
“Ultimately this perspective, coupled with accompanying skill sets and knowledge, strengthens the unit’s capability.”
The artist was engaged through the community connections of the squadron’s Indigenous liaison officer, Flight Lieutenant Tjapukai Shaw.
Flight Lieutenant Shaw said artwork was important for sharing stories in Indigenous cultures.
“For my people, artwork has been an important part of telling stories and teaching the lessons of our old people. To an Aboriginal artist, every piece tells a story and that’s no different for this piece,” Flight Lieutenant Shaw said.
“One of my totems which links us to place and country is the wedge-tailed eagle.
“This artwork displays the similarities between Aboriginal culture and Air Force culture, because in a squadron we display our unit patch on our arm, which like a totem helps us to identify with a place.”