Yondee Shane Hansen was taught about hunting and shown sand drawings by his grandfather and 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. Yondee Shane Hansen remembers from this time:
“The bark had been burnt and then soaked. We would float it in the river, then the old people would grab it, put it in hessian bags, take it up the hill and dry it out for a couple of days. They’d use flour and water glue and charcoal for paint. I started drawing with charcoal, drawing on the light grey logs that had no bark. I love the simplicity of black and white, the strength. The black is fire, the white is the tree. From childhood, that’s why I often paint black and white paintings."
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. When you have washed it a few times and sieved it, then mixed it with paint, it’s good to use. When I make sand paintings using black and white, it gives that simple strong message.”
An experienced and accomplished artist, Yondee Shane Hansen has developed ways 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. As a child, Yondee learnt his grandfather’s ground paintings and wishes to continue these and feels the translation of them to sand paintings does them justice and brings them to new audiences. The artist’s bush name, Yondee, means Black Goanna.
Yondee Shane Hansen has painted with the Campfire group of Aboriginal artists in Brisbane as well as exhibiting his work in galleries in Western Australia, NSW, Queensland and overseas (including the USA, the Czech Republic and Ireland).