• 'The Journey' by the Yuin woman behind Ngandabaa Art Rheanna Lotter. (Ngandabaa Art)Source: Ngandabaa Art
The designs by Yuin artist Rheanna Lotter convey themes of overcoming adversity, the strength and support of the nation and the journeys of each athlete.
Nadine Silva

31 Aug 2021 - 9:59 AM  UPDATED 31 Aug 2021 - 9:59 AM

When Yuin woman Rheanna Lotter found out she was designing uniforms for the national Paralympics team, she nearly fell off her chair.

“I wasn't dreaming that high,” the 26-year-old said.

The third-party organisation that reached out to her in 2017 kept the high-profile of their client under wraps.

“They were really subtle about it, saying they had an opportunity with an athletics team in Australia.”

As an artist currently affected by Western Sydney’s strict lockdown, seeing her work on the uniforms of Australia’s Paralympics Team has been especially surreal.

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Posted by Ngandabaa Aboriginal Art & Programs on Saturday, August 21, 2021

Rheanna said the current uniform, called The Journey, has eight circles to represent each state and territory in Australia.

In between the circles, the connection lines show the journeys of each athlete, from training around the country to competing in Tokyo.

“Each one has a different journey so it’s super wavy to show their ups and downs."

To tell the stories of their adversities, Rheanna said she used boomerangs.

"It's about how they used them, in a controlled way to their advantage to create a warrior spirit."

"They're all scattered to convey how each one has overcome a challenge in their life."

Her second artwork called The Mob, Rheanna said, depicts “how the athletes overcome their adversities to better themselves, dream and compete at such a competitive level”.

As for the abundance of dot work, Rheanna said they symbolise the strength of the support of the nation.

Using “simple symbolism” is something Rheanna feels is important to help more people connect with her work.

“Some people might not know much about Aboriginal art, so I wanted it to be universal so whoever sees it can understand it, feel a connection to it and become a part of that journey as well,” she said.

"If you understand it, you'll value it," she said.

"And if you value it, you'll protect it... so I'm a big believer in that."

Rheanna said the Paralympics Committee plan to use her work in the long term, as they've purchased the rights to them.

“I was paid well for my work, which is important for Aboriginal artists especially in Australia,” Rheanna said.

Looking ahead, Rheanna said she hopes to meet the Paralympic team in person sometime soon, and finally, toast her achievements with her loved ones.

“It's a proud moment for me and my family, and unfortunately, I can't celebrate with them right now.” 

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