Q&A with Dennis Golding

As a young child you had a very urban upbringing in Redfern, and often watched your mother and grandmother paint Australian native plants and animals on large canvas and sheen fabrics. How has this childhood of contrasts crafted your artistic storytelling?

Mum passed me the paintbrush when I was 5 or 6 years old and that’s the moment I found a love for art. I thank my mum for that gift as I now live my dream as an artist to share stories of our lived experiences and familial history.


Dubbed a very powerful series your previous work ‘Cast in Cast out’ featured lacework panels. In a more subtle way, you have also included a nod to this lacework in Drawing from Gadigal. Is there a symbolic meaning behind this?

I’m very interested in symbols and how they mark stories of place and identity. So when this opportunity came about, I wanted to explore symbolism through the streetscapes of Sydney’s CBD where you can see brick, concrete and cast metal. I look at these materials as symbols that are collected from earth and used to make a home or place. I’m then reminded of the white clays that are beneath the surface of this very landscape and I wanted to bring the colours of this material to produce new drawings that contrast both Indigenous and non-Indigenous iconography.


You have been on the art critics radar for a while now as a First Nations artist to watch. What does pushing contemporary boundaries and pioneering a new generation of storytelling mean for your people?

Self-determination. It means that we can have more agency of our stories and share them in the way we want, and with who we want to share it with.


Unearthing the connection of white clay to the land which 25 Martin Place resides is a powerful metaphor. How did this come to form the narrative of your striking series Drawing from Gadigal?

I learnt that clay was something desired by European settlers as they arrived on these shores because it meant that they could build with natural and local resource. While I often challenge these histories and processes of colonialism in my work, I wanted to bring new imagery with the colour of local clay to use it in a way that marks stories of place from a contemporary Indigenous perspective.