Yondee (Shane Hanson) is a Noongar man from Western Australia. He was born in 1964 in Dumbleyung, 270 km south of Perth. The name Dumbleyung is derived from the Aboriginal word 'Dambeling' meaning large lake and refers to the lake nearby which is the largest in south west WA. Yondee remembers this lake as a child and being told stories of the Wagal (rainbow snake).
He was told about hunting and shown sand drawings by his father. Around the age of ten he would travel and visit his aunties on the Swan River and would collect paper bark to help them in their art work. It was here that he started to learn about art from his older relatives who are known for their painting on paper bark.
Shane is an experienced and accomplished artist who is developing a way of working with sand and ochres to depict the stories and legends of his people. He also paints detailed figurative works based on mission life, hunting and animals. His works are abstract in their presentation but narrative in their content. He wishes to continue the stories of his grandfather.
Shane learnt these stories and images as ground paintings, so he feels the translation of them to sand paintings does them justice and brings them to new audiences.
Talking about his art practice today, Yondee Shane Hansen says: “I make sand paintings, collecting sand from the creeks. You have to wash it to get the salt out, but the sand is different out of the creeks, its smoother, it’s good to use. When I make sand paintings using black and white, or bold colours, it’s gives a simple strong message.”
In this painting, Shane paints the Coral reef. Human involvement with the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area began thousands of years before Captain Cook struck a reef near the current site of Cooktown. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have fished and hunted its waters, navigated between the islands of its coast.
Australia's aboriginal people not only know of the existence of the Reef, they had large outrigger canoes that enabled them to travel to the islands and outer reefs. They moved their settlements up and down the coast for thousands of years before the coming of the Europeans.
The Great Barrier Reef is important in the history and culture of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Important cultural sites and values exist on many islands and reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Region. Animals such as dugongs and turtles have long been part of Aboriginal dreaming and are important in many aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture.