Heather painted under her dreaming name “Anjolu” which means clouds. She was born in the bush under the shelter of a tree, the traditional way, in c1954. As a young girl she lived at the Presbyterian Mission at Mowanjum, via Derby, Western Australia.
Her paintings reflect the passion she had for the landscape of her country, her rich cultural heritage and her personal memories of growing up at Mowanjum.
She was educated at Derby and Perth where she completed a nursing degree, studied Aboriginal Community Management & Development, attended Bible College and studied linguistics. Her father was fluent in 9 Aboriginal languages plus English.
Heather was passionate about helping her community. As a nurse and health worker she saw the need for much improved health services for her people. Her dream was to fund an Aboriginal Health Centre in her traditional country, for the women and their families. She hoped the sales of her paintings would make that dream come true.
Her paintings are very different to traditional Kimberley art. Heather loved contemporary art and moved right away from dots and ochre paints. She loved working in acrylic paints, with strong use of colour. She first started painting professionally around 1999 but had always being creative, sketching her landscape and people and illustrating books.
We believe Heather was one of the most exciting artists to emerge from the Kimberley region. Her works speak for themselves.
Aboriginal Gallery of Dreamings, Bourke St Melbourne (joint partner with Neil McLeod Fine Arts Studio) along with Art Mob have extensively promoted and sold Heather’s works to major private art collectors, corporate collections, state galleries and museums.
Ms Umbagai passed away in Perth in March 2013.