Tali – Sandhills is a story painted by many of the western desert painters. 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 Tingari 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. the artists sing the traditional song lines that go with the stories as they paint, reinforcing and teacher younger artists the importance of keeping their language alive. Repetition of the stories through song means the younger men are able to repeat the stories to their children, ensuing the unwritten language is carried through the generations.
This work depicts the travels of the Tingari, a group of ancestor beings, who travelled over vast stretches of the country performing rituals and creating and shaping sites. The Tingari Men were usually accompanied by novices and their travels and adventures are enshrined in a number of song cycles. These mythologies form part of the teachings of post-initiate youths today as well as providing explanations for contemporary customs. The Tingari ceremonies are of a secret nature and no further information was given by the artist. Willy Tjungurrayi has included a vast array of sites in this work, probably around his country in the region of Lake McDonald. In Mythological times, a large group of Tingari Men made camp at Lake McDonald during their journeying from the Peterman Range towards Kintore.