An internationally acclaimed artwork by Canberra artist Mick Ashley of Leafy Sea Dragon Artwork will adorn the 2020 NRL premiership ring, it was announced earlier this week.
The intricate pattern adorning the rings is based on the Frontline Worker image Ashley created in April this year that went on to achieve widespread international acclaim and attention.
The artwork depicts a firefighter passing a baton with ‘hope’ written on it to a nurse, and poignantly depicted the effort of frontline workers from across Australia as the country lurched from one crisis to another.
It has now been engraved onto the side of the 2020 NRL Premiership rings, with the baton being replaced by a football.
“It’s kind of the holy grail for an artist to be able to tell a whole story in one image, and this is the icing on the cake … it’s a big thrill,” Ashley said.
“I’ve had so many surprises over the course of this year … perversely it’s been a good year for me.
“It started off with Pooh’s corner and supporting the community on the South Coast through the fires and Michelago.
“That paved the way for the Frontline Worker … and over the course of the last six months I’ve had different companies and groups wanting to use it, and that’s what I’ve really wanted, to have that as the image of the year of the frontline worker.”
The design process for the rings has been underway for some time but was kept under wraps until the Dally M Awards night earlier this week.
“I received lots of images from lots of people and one of them was from jeweller Sam Rhami who had asked if he could use the image for the NRL premiership rings,” he said.
“First off I went ‘oh, is this for real?’ … we had a couple of discussions, a few tweaks and then I left it for his people to work on.
“It was a couple of months wondering what was going to happen, I had no idea how it was going to look or where it was going to be on the ring, but I was very excited and honoured by it.”
And while he wishes his beloved Canberra Raiders could be wearing the premiership rings he played a part in designing this Sunday, Ashley said he’ll be watching on eagerly regardless.
“I’m a Raiders tragic and it would have been awesome if they got up, but as it turns out, winning a Dally M was good,” he said.
“I’ve got mates that follow Melbourne and Penrith … it’ll be nice, I’ll have another reason to watch it.”