• Artwork designed by Chern’ee Sutton to be printed on jerseys. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
The inspiration behind the 2017 NRL women’s and men’s Indigenous All Stars jersey stems from artwork designed by Chern’ee Sutton.
Hannah Hollis

15 Dec 2016 - 9:36 AM  UPDATED 15 Dec 2016 - 9:45 AM

Originally from Mt Isa in Queensland, Miss Sutton is a contemporary artist and a proud descendent of the Kalkadoon people.

For the last two years, her artwork has been commissioned to inspire the jerseys worn by Indigenous All Stars players, and 2017 will be no exception.

“It’s such an honour to see, not only the players taking to the field wearing my artwork proudly, but to also see the spectators and supporters wearing the jerseys with passion and pride,” she said at the NRL headquarters during the announcement of the All Stars team on Wednesday.

In an explosion of colour, the theme for this year’s artwork is totems.

“These totems give the players pride and passion as they take to the field to do battle. The totems provide strength for the players and guide the team.”

In Miss Sutton’s Kalkadoon language, the painting is called Thaamu, Caina Putut, Ilya, Wartanganha, which means, ‘Totems, long ago, today, and tomorrow’.

“My painting represents the sacred and spiritual connection that all Indigenous people have with their totems from long ago, today and to tomorrow” she added.

The meaning behind the totems

Bunya nut tree and native honey bee: These represent rugby league legend and bronzed immortal, Arthur Beetson.

Carpet snake: Represents Indigenous All Stars founder and league legend Preston Campbell.

Boomerang: Signifies the war cry performed before the start of the game. The 20 dots behind the boomerang symbolize the whole Indigenous All Stars squad, which form the shape of the boomerang during the powerful spirit invoking dance.

Red and white stars: These epitomize the Indigenous All Stars squad, as brothers. They are all connected to each other, playing as ‘all one mob’. The red in the stars symbolises the motto, ‘one brother bleeds, all brothers bleed’.

The two handprints: These represent the NRL and the All Stars week, through their Reconciliation Action Plan and community initiatives.

Bunya nut tree: Besides representing Arthur Beetson, it also symbolizes the Youth Summit participants who are proud of their heritage.

Human footprints: These embody the communities and people that travel to the game. As they travel, the red circles get bigger, representing their anticipation for the game. They finally reach the destination, represented with a campfire: a place where Indigenous people gather as ‘all one mob’.

The circles and dots represent the rest of the nation that watch and enjoy the game from their communities.

The animal footprints connect us as Indigenous people to our country and this land for all time.

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