Born at Patjantja, south-west of Lake Mackay c.1930 Willy Tjungurrayi was raised by his father’s brother, Charlie Tarawa Tjungurrayi, one of the founding members of the Western Desert art movement. It was his uncle’s camels and assistance that brought the family and other Pintupi people to Haasts Bluff in December 1956 and from there, eventually, on to Papunya.
In June of 1974 Willy participated in a visit to Yayayi, Kulkuta and Yawalyuru (back to country) sponsored by the Australian Institute for Aboriginal Studies, an event that also included his brother Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungarrayi, John Tjakamarra, George Yapa Tjangala along with others.Willy began painting for Papunya Tula Artists in 1976 and joined the move back to the Pintupi homelands during the early ’80s.
His paintings became more abstract in his later years, moving away from the Tingarri stories, common to many of the Pintupi men, towards his Sand-hills and Hail Storm at Kaarkurantintja paintings. These paintings use rhythmic lines and dots to demonstrate the story about a large group of ancestors who traveled long distances to Kaarkurantintja only to die in a hail storm.