Community, identity and culture: the work of artist Dennis Golding

After a deep exploration of his art practice this year, Dennis Golding has discovered that three words keep coming back to him: community, identity and culture.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours program at UNSW Sydney has been an opportunity to reflect on his development since starting his studies at UNSW Art and Design, and since picking up the paint brush at age four, with the encouragement of his mum Vicki, who is also an artist.

Today, Golding’s artwork is an exploration of his identity as a Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay person, influenced by his urban Sydney surroundings and local Indigenous artists.

His three-part painting, Pathways to Our Right, created to celebrate the launch of the Australian Human Rights Institute in March 2018, features bright colours that play and blend together, representing different communities coming together.

The use of ochre colours reminds us of the land we live on, and the circles throughout the work represent meeting grounds and places to exchange knowledge and experience.

Golding says the work recognises the Indigenous communities of the area and all of the groups the multidisciplinary Institute will bring together.

“Through it we can see a connection and form a greater understanding of our freedom and a way of understanding each other’s cultures, sharing and creating a safe space to share our stories and talk about our histories,” he says.

“I wanted to create a representation of creating a safe environment for everyone.”

Throughout his Honours year, Golding says he is being challenged to research, experiment and think deeply about his future direction, which is looking more contemporary.

“Coming here has changed my mindset of what Aboriginal art is, and what it can represent,” he says.

“It’s been really fun in the last few years being able to have the space where I can experiment, whether I’m making mistakes or going in different directions. Being a uni student, an arts student, that’s what the process is, to make some changes in your practice.”

And with community, identity and culture as the foundations of Golding’s work, he is increasingly interested in sharing the stories from the past.

“Something I never did a lot before uni was bringing out a lot of stories and history of our people, of Aboriginal people and their culture, and how there’s a great oppressed history around our culture,” he says.

“That’s something I would really love to keep working in, to bring out a lot of these narratives that haven’t been spoken or haven’t been shared to a lot of Australian people today, especially our youth, who aren’t educated about a lot of these stories.

“I feel this is an opportunity in my practice to showcase and expose a lot of those hidden truths, revealing truths. What I aim for is experimenting with that and sharing a lot of those stories.”


Dennis Golding won the TWT Excellence Prize and an Art Scene Award at the ANNUAL 18, and the Aboriginal Art Award at the Fisher's Ghost Art Award 2018, open at Campbelltown Art Centre until 13 December.