Willy Tjungurrayi was born c. 1930 in Patjantja, south-west of Wilkinkarra - Lake Mackay, in the Western Desert of Australia. He was raised by his father's brother Charlie Tarawa in the bush - naked, with only a nulla nulla and a woomera.
It was Charlie's camels which eventually brought the family to Haasts Bluff in the late 1950s. Willy is the middle one of three brothers, of whom Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi was the eldest and George Ward Tjungurrayi the youngest.
All three brothers became well respected and the most sought after painters of the Western Desert.
Willy began painting for Papunya Tula Artists in 1976. In the 80's he joined the movement of return to the Pintupi homelands and with his family moved back to Kintore. He holds a senior position in his community, which entitles him to paint the most significant and secret parts of the Tingari Cycle stories, many of which can not be revealed to the uninitiated.
The Tingari Cycle refers to journeys undertaken by Ancestors. Their paths, important sites and activities cover a huge area in Pintupi country. The Ancestors are known for having brought law, culture and order to the world.
Willy paints dozens of concentric circles, linked by parallel lines with the spaces between them filled with bright yellow, orange, green red and pink colours. He depicts the travelling lines and stoping places of the Tingari Men in the rhythmic repetition, creating very elegant compositions.
Willy Tjungurrayi's work is much sought after and has been collected into many international and national collections.