Danielle Leedie Gray’s art is her voice. Take a closer look at this year’s National Reconciliation Week artwork to find out what the artist has to say about reconciliation.
Image: A close up of Danielle wearing a black t-shirt, standing in front of a black background with half of her face in shadow.
“I am a Bidjara and Wakka Wakka woman from South West and East Queensland, Australia. I create modern and bold artwork that reflects a deep connection to my cultural heritage and family history,” said Danielle.
“My artwork is guided by empathy towards my cultural roots and invites unity and healing through a unique cultural perspective. Often my artwork will feature symbols that signify unity, progress, and gathering, expressing my desire for cultural understanding and celebration.
"I hope my work can promote understanding of the symbols, stories and meaning in Aboriginal culture so together we create a united future for all Australians.”
When she was asked to design the ‘Be a Voice of Generations’ artwork for National Reconciliation Week, Danielle felt a combination of excitement and pressure.
“Excitement over the opportunity to create something unique and memorable, and pressure to deliver artwork that accurately represented the theme and resonated with the audience. Ultimately, I wanted to create something that was visually appealing, relevant, and enduring,” said Danielle.
Image: National Reconciliation Week 2023 official artwork. On a light pink background, graphic text in red and blue reads: National Reconciliation Week 2023, 27 May - 3 June, Be a Voice for generations. The word 'Voice' is surrounded by a red block with a number of symbols in the negative space.
In designing the official artwork, Danielle used a collection of symbols to visually represent unity and moving forward as one.
“The artwork as a whole represents the fact that we as a country need to work together in unity and allow everyone to have a voice, so we can all feel at home."
"The past has been filled with inequality and conflict, but as we think about generations past and generations future, the one thing we all share is this land we love — our home.”
Danielle explains the symbolism of the illustrations behind the text of ‘Voice’ in her artwork.
“The concentric circles and ‘u’ shapes in the artwork signify people coming together to give everyone a voice. The wavy patterns represent water and tranquillity, the rainbows signify new beginnings, and the journey lines with ‘u’ symbols represent the older generation guiding, the younger to make this generational change.
"The concentric waterhole patterns signify the survival of First Nations people, while the emu footprints -my totem animal - signify that, like the emu, we can only move forward on this journey to make all people feel at home,” Danielle said.
For Danielle, Reconciliation Week is about raising awareness about the history and culture of her people and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as acknowledging the impact of colonisation and ongoing struggles for Reconciliation.
“It is a time for non-Indigenous people to reflect on their roles in achieving a reconciled, just and equitable society that respects and values First Nations cultures and perspectives. This year’s theme resonates deeply with me and is one that affects all of us,” said Danielle.
"I would ask every Australian to embrace the theme with compassion and display and wear the artwork proudly as we all work together for a more reconciled country."
Danielle’s husband, Paul Gray, a Life Without Barriers Child, Youth and Families Assurance Practitioner, could not be prouder of his wife’s achievements.
“It’s an incredibly important and significant time in our country, and for Danielle’s work to play a part in that is so amazing. Her voice is her artwork, and I’m so proud to share this story with everyone. I am incredibly grateful to work for Life Without Barriers and to be a part of an organisation that embraces Reconciliation the way it does,” said Paul.
Image: Danielle wearing a white shirt and blue jeans sits on a stool in front of a white backdrop.
Image: Artwork of people standing in between trees, there is a black koala in one tree and a blue star-dappled background.
"Earlier this year I was invited to Whites Hill State College to speak and work with the students on a creative project. Together we brainstormed and developed sketches about their school motto - imagine and what it meant to them. Combining my skill set and culture with their ideas, this was our final concept…" - Danielle.
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