Yondee (Shane Henson) is a Noongar man from Western Australia, now based on the Gold Coast in Queensland. 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.
He 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. He 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, it’s gives a simple strong message and feeling.”
About the artwork:
In this painting, Shane paints about the ancient method of caring for and maintaining the land. The Fire clears and sanitises the land, whereas the rain brings and abundance of new life and growth. Shane portrays the river grasses being burnt off just before the wet season, bringing new foods and life to this area.