MORE than half a century after having wedding photos taken in front of a mural at the RAAF Amberley Officer’s Mess, retired Air Vice Marshal Dave Rogers and his wife Jenny returned to reminisce by getting a photo taken in front of the same mural.
They were visiting Amberley from Canberra and had requested to see the mural again which David had a part in procuring for the RAAF.
The only problem was the original officer’s mess no longer existed, but after some detective work the mural was located in the Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre.
“To have our photo taken with the mural more than half a century later was special for us,” David said.
In early 1970, the committee for the Officer’s Mess tasked budding artist Charles Billich from Sydney to create a mural with an Air Force theme.
The completed mural, which consists of four large panels, was placed on display in the mess foyer in mid- 1970.
Mr Billich’s fee was $1500 – a lot of money considering the annual salary for a flight lieutenant in 1970 was $5000.
The Air Force may have picked up a bargain, as Mr Billich is now one of Australia’s most successful artists, with pieces on display in the White House and the Vatican, and one artwork selling for $375,000.
David recalled at the time that some thought the mural was a bit ‘way out’, although most considered it fitting for the modern building.
Fast forward to 2010 when David heard the officer’s mess was to be demolished, he made a few calls to ensure that the mural was saved.
“So, it stood the test of time and outlasted the building and hopefully, it will see another 50 years at least,” he said.