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Artist Profile| Shane Bates Finalist in Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art Prize 2015

Artist Shane Bates says he was ‘dobbed in’ to enter the Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art
Prize this year. The dobber? Aboriginal Arts Officer with West Darling Arts, Kathy Graham.

Shane won the Far West Emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Prize in January this year with his work, My Life in the Bush in the City. He had prepared his work – Our Home, Our Land – for another competition, but wasn’t successful.

‘Kathy approached me and encouraged me to enter it in the competition,’ Shane said.

In an interview with ABC Radio Broken Hill’s Julie Clift,  Shane who is from the Mayangapa Tribe in Wilcannia and also has Irish heritage, said he had little connection with his Aboriginal heritage when he was small, but had come to learn more about it as he grew older.

‘The first thing I painted was a small kangaroo and I kept going and never stopped,’ he laughed.

Shane takes a lot of his inspiration from his Aboriginal family.

‘Family meetings are great. They let you get away from town. I want to represent my ancestors; show images of them talking to young people.’

Shane Bates Parliament of New South Wales prize

In the description accompanying his artwork Shane writes:

‘… the small boomerangs and clapsticks in the middle of this painting represent our elders and children sitting around a campfire telling our children stories about survival on Mother Earth. The lines connecting the two circles represent the passing on of stories from generation to generation. All the symbols in this painting are connected. The four Rainbow Serpents in each corner symbolise hills: rocky hills, bushy hills, sandy hills and hills with trees. The big and small boomerangs connected to the small nulla nullas represent tree roots. The clapsticks each side of the small nulla nullas symbolise wind, rain and sunshine. Without these, our land would not survive. The two big nulla nullas each side of the snakes represent rivers and creeks. All the lines in the middle and corners symbolise the bush.
With all the connections in this painting, the most important connection is the connection of our people, past, present and future – our connection with Mother Earth.
Our home our land.
Shane Bates
Mayangapa Tribe

The exhibition of the 33 finalists, which also includes  Aleshia Lonsdale, Aboriginal Arts Development Officer with Arts OutWest, and Central West artist, Nyree Reynolds, opens at the Parliament, 6 Macquarie Street,
Sydney, from Monday 28 September to Sunday 1 November, with the winner announced on Wednesday, 14 October.  Click here for the full list of finalists.

Finalists work includes paintings, sculptures, digital photographs, film reels, ceramics and woven baskets.