Established to support the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and now integral to national military parades, Australia’s Federation Guard (AFG) celebrated its 20th anniversary by unveiling a mural on September 21. 

The bright painting on the side of AFG’s headquarters building in Canberra encompasses the Australian flag, AFG’s emblem and silhouettes of members from each service resting on arms in a poppy field. 

Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral David Johnston said the mural was a reminder to AFG members of who and what they represented each time they stepped out for ceremonies.

“It’s a very clever combination,” Vice Admiral Johnston said. 

“The silhouette of the three services in a pose is very significant for AFG as during ceremonies we reflect on the sacrifice of those who’ve worn our uniform before us.” 

The mural was painted by 21-year-old Canberra artist Faith Kerehona who said the design was projected onto the wall where it was sketched and painted.

“My art usually isn’t as precise as this,” Ms Kerehona said. 

“There were heaps of nuances we had to go over and make sure were covered. 

“The text and the insignia were a challenge, the tilt of the hats had to be at the correct angle, there couldn’t be any dead poppies in the field and the positioning – how it was all centred – it was all taken into consideration.”

Being around AFG members and talking to them during the project, including painting some of their silhouettes, deepened Ms Kerehona’s understanding of ADF service. 

“My papa served in Vietnam and my uncles and dad have all served, so I have a military family but didn’t have a lot to do with it,” she said. 

“This mural was a unique opportunity for me because I got to look into that world. As I was painting it I understood it to a deeper level.

“There was a sense of discipline, direction and pride.”  

Officer in Command of the AFG Squadron Leader Ben Cowan said the mural was commissioned to deepen that pride. 

“It all came from the idea of wanting to make this place brighter and wanting to inspire people when they come through the door every day,” he said.

“It reflects the 20 years that we’ve been providing ceremonial support and what we’ve achieved in that time.”

To see a time-lapse video of the mural being painted, visit https://twitter.com/VCDF_Australia/status/1308571472588201984