Murtiyarru Sunfly Tjampitjin was born in the Alec Ross Ranges, north-west of Lake Mackay. His country was Murrunpa and Kurnaluurnpa.
Tjampitjin first saw kartiya (non-Aboriginal people) when they were droving cattle through his country. They were making bread in the coals and gave it to Tjampitjin and his family, who tasted bread and sugar, and saw how tea was made. Tjampitjin was frightened of the camels and would stand on top of a sandhill and watch them from a distance.
Catholic priests brought Tjampitjin to Tjumurnturr, the Old Balgo mission, when he was young. Soon after his arrival the priests decided to relocate the mission because of the dust problem, and chose the Wirrimanu site. Living between the two sites, the priest took rations to those in Tjumurnturr as they waited for houses to be built in Wirrimanu. Tjampitjin was one of the men who built the convent, dormitories, shop and little houses (still standing today) at Wirrimanu. Their work involved carting posts and other primary building materials on donkeys.
In the early 1980s, Tjampitjin went to Yuendumu and saw the paintings on the Yuendumu School doors. He liked the idea that the Warlpiri people were painting about their land and when he returned to Balgo he discussed it with other men. He began to paint in 1985 and his work was represented in the first Balgo exhibition, Art of the Great Sandy Desert at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth 1986, where it was critically acclaimed.
A major artist and ceremonial leader, Tjampitjin's work was featured in many major exhibitions including Mythscapes: Aboriginal Art of the Desert, National Gallery of Victoria, 1989 and Images of Power: Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, National Gallery of Victoria, 1993.
His wife Bai Bai Napangarti and daughter Pauline Sunfly are also established artists whose work is inspired by his example.