The brother of respected painters Brandy and George “Hairbrush” Tjungarrayi and the late Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi, Willy was born about 1936 at Patjantja, southwest of Lake Mackay in the Northern Territory.
By the 1980s Willy was recognized as a senior Pintupi painter, and he joined the movement on return from Haast’S Bluff to the Pintupi homelands. He now lives at Walungurru.
Stories from the “Tingari Dreaming” song cycle, and the land around Haast’s Bluff, Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay) and Kaakuratintja (Lake MacDonald), are Willy’s two great linked themes. For some subjects Willy paints dozens of dotted roundels (concentric circles), linked by parallel lines, the spaces between them filled with bright, flat primary and mixed colours, a depiction of the travels and stopping places of the Tingari Men, an image of the rhythmic repetition of the songs associated with the Tjukurpa (Creation era or Dreaming).
More recently, hundreds of endless wavy lines in an ochre monochrome shimmer across the canvas on a pale background. These paintings illustrate the sandhills and the fierce hailstorm that killed the ancestral Tingari Men in the Dreamtime.
Willy’s work is much sought after, and has been collected into many major private and public collections.