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Artist’s activist voice rises in Ethical Expressions exhibition

Sixteen works in black and blue biro exploring politics, gentrification, criminal justice, mental health, couch surfing and environmental activism feature in a new exhibition at the Orchard Gallery in Waterloo launched on December 10.

Local artist Danielle Joy Golding was inspired to create the works after being chosen as a winner of the Blak & Blu pen-on-paper award in 2022.

“The Blak & Blu art award was where I got my first taste of social commentary drawing,’ Golding said ‘and it’s why I created the next 40 drawings in the same genre.

‘My activist voice had been tuned! [It built on] what I’d seen at the Sydney College of the Arts several years ago. Obviously, if you’re at uni, being an activist is part of it – especially if you’re mature aged.’

Curated by Catherine Skipper, artist in residence at the South Sydney Uniting Church, the Ethical Expressions exhibition offers a strong selection of works in which Golding uses what she calls “the amazing biro pen as the medium”.

The use of biro is mandatory for artists entering the Blak & Blu award, which is sponsored by the 2022 Archibald prize winner and Redfern-based Dhungatti artist Blak Douglas and honours Tommy McRae, a groundbreaking but often-ignored 19th-century Aboriginal artist who worked in pen and ink.

Danielle Joy Golding said she really respects Oscar Wilde and so paid great attention to detail in her drawing ‘Westerners tend to mistreat their most talented’, which features the famous author, playwright and poet. Photo: Emlyn Lewis-Jones

The Rev. Andrew Collis said Golding’s drawings offered arresting punchlines, whimsical comment and surreal imagery.

“I really like her artwork ‘He’s the Boss’ – and I wonder how often Bruce Springsteen and Donald Trump have been in the same A4 drawing in black and blue pen? Maybe not so often.”

Another favourite was “Be aware of mental health”, he said, in which “the faces are really distinctive and beautiful.”

Mr Collis said he admired Golding’s capacity to combine empathy with social commentary.

“There’s a lot of feeling in the work – a lot of emotion, a lot of expression. So, you [Danielle] bring that personal expression and energy to the works and then you’re also reaching out and commenting on social issues in the world around you.

“To do both those things is a lot to ask of any artist – and I think you are doing it again and again.”


Ethical Expressions by Danielle Joy Golding is at the Orchard Gallery, 56a Raglan Street, Waterloo until February 26, 2023.


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