Written by Stuart McLennan
The fact that we are about to enjoy an NRL grand final on Sunday, marking the culmination of a 20 round competition, after devastating bushfires followed by the COViD pandemic is a miracle in itself.
Much of the credit for any quality of life we have maintained must go to our ‘frontline workers,’ those heroes that we call in emergencies and desperate times.
The winners of the 2020 NRL Grand Final will receive a premiership ring that pays tribute to those Australian heroes that are on the job in times of need.
Canberra based artist and staunch Raiders supporter Mick Ashley from Leafy Sea Dragon Artwork supplied the design that will adorn the premiership ring.
Ashley built his popularity with representations of life in Australia’s capital drawn with a humorous and quirky slant. When the bushfires hit the area surrounding Canberra he saw the importance of acknowledging the sacrifices made by frontline workers in his art.
“I was approached by (jeweller) Sam Rahme back in August with an idea to depict frontline workers on the premiership rings. After a few discussions and a few tweaks it was over to him and his team. The secrecy was very important so I had to be mindful not to let the cat out of the bag, “ Ashley revealed to Everything Rugby League.
The design on the premiership ring takes its inspiration from artwork Ashley produced earlier this year depicting a baton being passed from an emergency bushfire worker to a nurse. It is a powerful image that caught the attention of the CNN network in America.
“For me, it was very important to highlight their importance to society, which perversely goes unnoticed and at times unappreciated and underpaid. In particular those that volunteer their time and resources as well as those who do this every day.
“It was March, Australia was only weeks into Covid-19 and people had begun to forget the fires, which in some ways was understandable as a means of having to deal with one thing leading into another. I was also mindful that the whole country was fatigued and nobody could have believed the scale of the calamity six months later.
“I wanted to convey that the money people donated and raised and that Aussie spirit and good will was still fresh in the minds of everyone. In many ways we weren’t so much all in this together as being caught in this together.”
When it was suggested that he would be disappointed that Jack Wighton and his beloved Raiders wouldn’t be wearing the premiership rings the Canberra artist was pragmatic in his reply.
“Haha, mate I’m happy as are most Raiders fans that Jack got the Dally M. Not too many would disagree, perhaps some that get to play at the big dance this Sunday.”
So given that the Green Machine won’t be on the field this Sunday I took the opportunity to ask Mick if he had a favourite team for the big game.
“Penrith for me, simply based on them being the form team all year and well earned. It should be a cracker of a match.”
That it will!
Leafy Sea Dragon Artwork is available at mick.ashley.com.au