Shannon Jukes - My Story
(Shannon's story is not edited other than spacing)
I started off in year 7 in an Adelaide primary school then in mid year I moved back to Shepparton where I applied for McGuire college, but my application was turned down after an interview with the vice principal because she said I looked "sullen", but in my eyes I took it as a discriminatory stab against my chose of clothing and against my last name since I had older cousins attend the same highschool, also I felt it was a racial conflict because of my aboriginal heritage, so I had to get koorie legal aid in and I was finally accepted after a few weeks,
I struggled a lot since I was still doing primary school work in year 7 because highschool in south Australia starts in year 8, so I found it extremely difficult for me to adapt to the immense workload so I ended up not doing any work, I wagged school, I was constantly being kicked out of class or permanently banned from certain classes, the only session I never mucked around in was my art classes, I was right into my art and I've been drawing since I was about 4 so it was something I knew how to do,
I was drinking in school, smoking in school, I couldn't afford the right uniform so I had to make do with what I had and I was constantly getting detention for it but I never went, I had no respect for the school or the teachers because I didn't get any help and I wasn't respected and I wasn't treated fairly from day one, i cheated work all through to year 11 and then I started to really put my head down and get my own work done on my own and I was getting really good results,
in that same year I had a severe case of appendicitis where I had my appendix, 25cms of my intestines and a part of my rectum removed, after I was feeling up to it after more complications with my health I tried to go back and finish my year 12, but instead of being welcomed back after my near death experience I was given an exit form and expelled because I missed to much of school, they didn't even offer me the choice of repeating,
I left McGuire and tried to apply for a yr 12 senior general education class but I was 2 weeks late to start so instead I did a pre-apprenticeship cabinet making course, but my old ways came back and I started slacking in my work, wagging class, not doing any theory, and I eventually failed that class, in the following year I signed up for a general education class and it was a new program called the Big Picture, I was initially assessed as intermediate but I insisted on being put in the senior group, there i met one of my teachers named Geoff Allemand who asked me an odd question "what is your passion?" And I responded with the first thing that came to mind "art",
From then on Geoff based my learning through the curriculum of the Big Picture program with my passion of art, Geoff had then arranged for me to do a work placement in the aboriginal and or Torres strate cultural arts class under the mentorship of Robyn Thompson, there I helped as an art assistant to help create two murals with her class for Gowrie street primary school (one of the many schools I went to) and they chose both my designs,
As my grades were getting higher and higher Geoff started to take an interest in my background as I was a troubled indigenous youth and he asked me to do a few speeches about the program I was doing, then I did another speech at a teachers day conference at Goulburn ovens institute of tafe and discussed about my educational difficulties and how the Big Picture helped me to achieve my goal and I passed that year with flying colours, after that I travelled with Geoff to Perth to discuss with other teacher about the big picture program and then we travelled to Tasmania where I done a speech to a big conference for the big picture program,
I then applied for a diploma in graphic design and did that for 2 years and did my work placement in the second running of a program in Melbourne called kooriez in da hood and obtained a cultural arts administration certificate, upon returning to graphic design I had to drop out because I was about to because a father, and with no money, no job, still living with my parents I had to make sure I could provide for my unborn son,
so I got a job at the Cobram abbittors as a labourer and then eventually as a trimmer and in charge of the trimline, During this period Geoff had arranged with my superiors to take a few days off a week to work as a mentor for the Shepparton version of the kooriez in the hood program at tafe, after a lot of unfair treatment and arguments I left the Cobram abbittors and started working at the tongala abbittors,
the following year I taught as a mentor again for the hoodies program as well as obtaining my certificate 2 in meat processing at the same time, I then received a call from Robyn Thompson saying there is an opportunity for me to do a TAE course so I applied for that while I was still working at the abbittors and passed, I left the tongala abbittors because me being so small framed and lifting meat and equipment twice my weight caused me to have a curved upper spine and was constantly pulling my back muscles,
so after a good 3 years of dissecting meat I have now finished my first year of being a qualified tafe teacher teaching in the aboriginal and or Torres strate cultural arts class (the same course Geoff had arranged for me to do my work placement a few years earlier) I am going to continue to teach for as long as I can and continue my work as an artist and just go with the flow and see where it takes me.
The flow...Shannon enthusiastically accepted a paid commission to design a local Koorie totem and background for the new Ducats Currency soon to be released in Shepparton.
This is Shannon's explanation of his totem design:
I chose a prehistoric look for the long neck turtle for its uniqueness and as its my totem of the Yorta Yorta clan, the prehistoric twist of my design is about how indigenous Australians are the longest surviving race in the world, we have been here for over 40,000 years so we are practically a prehistoric race and that we still thrive today and we still hold our traditions, art, language and beliefs.
This is Shannon's explanation of his background design:
The linear cross-hatching (rarrk) I've used is a Woven representation of our landscape and its intricacy is of how complex evolution is with change from past to present, also this style is culturally important to this area with its traditional art practices