Born at Patjantja, south-west of Lake Mackay c.1930 Willy Tjungurrayi was raised by his father’s brother, Charlie Tarawa Tjungurrayi, who was one of the founding members of the Western Desert pictorial movement. In June of 1974 Willy participated in a visit to Yayayi, Kulkuta and Yawalyuru 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. It was his uncle’s camels and assistance which eventually brought the family and other Pintupi people to Haasts Bluff in December 1956 and from there eventually on to Papunya.
He has since emerged as one of the most well-known senior Pintupi painters. He also helped raise the artist Joseph Tjapaltjarri, who was only a boy when brought into Papunya by the Northern Territory Welfare Branch patrols in the 1960’s. Sadly Willy Tjungurrayi passed away in 2018.