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 paperbark to help them in their artwork. It was here that he started to learn about art from his older relatives who are known for their painting on paperbark.
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 the 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, it's smoother, it’s good to use. When I make sand paintings using black and white, or bold colours, it gives a simple strong message.”
About the painting
One of the great recurring stories in Aboriginal art is the location and presence of water on traditional lands. Over the vast landmass of the Australian continent, much of the country is in dry and water-deprived conditions for large parts of the year. Throughout the different climate zones of the continent, the presence of water plays out in different ways, and this is possibly most obvious in the desert regions. Water is at the center of knowledge of the land, and much of the ceremony and culture of Aboriginal Australia is focussed around the locations of water, which are also linked to important ceremonial sites.