Born c. 1945 at Haasts Bluff, Mitjili is the daughter of Topa Tjakamarra (now deceased) and Tjunkiya Napaltjarri. She is married to Long Tom Tjapanangka and currently lives and paints in Haasts Bluff.
In 1959 Mitjili and her family moved from Haasts Bluff to the new settlement of Papunya. It was here that she observed the men, including her brother Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula (deceased), painting.
Initially, Mitjili’s paintings followed the style of the artists from Papunya. On returning to Haasts Bluff she commenced painting in 1992 for the Ikuntji Women’s Centre. She soon developed her own style, drawing on her father’s Dreaming Uwalki, which is the story of the spear straightening ceremony taught to Mitjili by her mother.
Mitjili’s distinctive style is based on her father’s country, also called Uwalki, an area west of Haasts Bluff near the Kintore Ranges in the Northern Territory. Characterised by red sandhills, bushes and trees it is here that the spearwood trees used to make spears, are found.
As custodian of the Kulata Tjurrkupa (Spear Dreaming) and representing the female side of the Dreaming, Mitjili depicts the trees (Watiya Tjuta) which provide the wood for the spears, whilst her brother is well known for painting the stories associated with making and assembling the spears.
1999 – Alice Springs Art Prize
1994 – Northern Territory Art Award, Alice Springs
1993 – Australian Heritage Art Award, Canberra