Esteemed Wobulkarra songman, husband, father and emerging artist Thomas Gulumbu is described by his märi (mother’s mother), Susan Balbunga, as a clever man – a culture man. Gulumbu passed suddenly in October, 2019. Tragically, his passing occurred shortly after he lead a funeral ceremony for another young community member. From a young age he had been entrusted with the law and ceremony of his own Yirritja moiety Wobulkarra clan, as well as that of other Yirritja clans and his mother’s Dhuwa moiety clan. He proudly carried on the Rom, Manikay, Miny’tji ga Yidaki (ceremonial law, songlines, designs and didgeridoo) passed to him by his elders and was a mentor to many other young men. During ceremonies his young son followed his every move with a focus and reverence usually reserved for the mature and wise. His song and leadership are greatly missed.
Gulumbu grew up in Milingimbi with his mother and father, siblings and extended family. Whilst growing up, Thomas watched his Märi (mother’s uncle) painting with gamunuŋgu on ṉaku (ochre on bark) as well as on the chests of young boys during ceremonies.
Gulumbu’s homeland of Laŋarra (Howard Island) is east of Milingimbi close to Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island). Thomas was taught the Manikay ga Rom (Songlines and Law) of Laŋarra by his father’s brother Johnny Djuwararr. Thomas learnt the designs of his grandmother’s Warrawarra clan from his märi, Susan Balbunga.
Gulumbu shared his knowledge and was a mentor to many young men and children. His song and leadership are a great loss to this community and the world at large.
Gulumbu’s artwork is represented in collections including; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Charles Darwin University Gallery and the Kluge Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia, USA.
19/10/1978 – 07/11/2019
Laŋarra, (Howard Island)