Yondee Shane Hansen

Yondee Shane Hansen

Yondee Shane Hansen is a Perth based Noongar artist. He was born in 1964 at Dumbleyung, 270 km south west of Perth. He grew up in WA’s south west around Narrogin, and later near Guildford on the outskirts of Perth. The story of his early life and his attraction to painting gives a strong idea of how his life story feeds into his role as an Aboriginal artist. The artist’s bush name, Yondee, means Black Goanna. Yondee was taught 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. Yondee 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.”Yondee remembers when he began painting. “I started painting with house paints that we found on the rubbish tip. That was at the Reserve at Narrogin. 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 mostly paint black and white paintings.”“Later on when we moved to the outskirts of Perth, to Swan View, we would walk down to the river and light fires and collect paper bark. Art was all around me – in the paddocks when the flowers came, in the fields and the crops, along the rivers and around the rocks.” We moved around, working on the land and hunting.

My Grandfather sang Noongar songs. My grandmother spoke full Noongar language, and was influential in our lives. She would make dampers and and a big pot of stew. The old people would eat first and then us kids. When it ran out, that was it. There was no hot water, just the copper which was heated up from the fire. The five kids would line up and jump into the bath early, before it got too hot.”