c. 1927 2003
Henry Wambini was born at Tickelara south of Turkey Creek, c. 1927. As a child, he lived Hann Springs, Tickelara, Purnululu area and this land is the focus of his paintings. He was of the Kitja (Gidja) language group, Sub-Section Joongoora and Bush Names Jawalyi and Nilmayirriny however, most people referred to the old man as Henry.
He worked as a stockman at Tickelara and Texas Downs and then joined Sam and Maggie Lilly when they formed the mighty Bow River station, combining Adavale with Greenvale. He stayed at The Bow for many years, and worked alongside the late Timmy Timms, Joe Thomas, Rammey Ramsay and all the other great horsemen in the region. Henry battled with leprosy in those days, which interrupted his working and personal life.
Henry later met up with Jack Britten at Wyndham and along with many of his Kitja compatriots relocated and helped build the current community at Turkey Creek (Warmun). He resided at the Frog Hollow Community (Wurreranginy) via Turkey Creek, where Jack was Chairperson, and then moved to Warmun in 2001 with Jack and Beerbee Mungnari.
His paintings reflect the man his use of ochre is in keeping with the thick, crusty texture of the Warmun artists, however his blend of colours is delicate and his dot work immaculate but that was Henry, always presenting himself looking like the Chairman of the Board. His works are topographical, invariably depicting his country through his eyes. He may have been Jack’s best mate, but their styles were totally different Jack’s paintings very often busy with intricate dotting of the Purnululu country Henry’s minimal, almost subliminal, always pleasing to the eye. His contribution to the art of the East Kimberley will not be forgotten.