Maisie Ward Nungurrayi was born in Papunya in 1975. Her mother was a Luritja woman from Papunya and her father, Dr George Ward Tjapaltjarri, a well known artist and Ngangkari or medicine man. When she was still young Maisie Ward Nungurrayi moved to Kintore with her family, and spent her school years there. Maisie Ward Nungurrayi was one of four children, and her mother passed away when Maisie was 16.
Maisie said about her father, who has now passed away, “he’s crippled and mostly blind, but he still talks to you and he knows who is coming, even though he can’t see them.” As a Ngangkari, a witchdoctor, “he goes everywhere at night time, travels.” He says “I was there – in your sleep. He started painting after my mother died, painting in Alice Springs. “My father told me to do the painting – his country.” He taught me Ngangkari, gave me some of that knowledge, sit down at night time. I’ve been fixing a lot of people.
Maisie Ward Nungurrayi grew up with her parents and grandmother teaching her the stories of their country. She started painting in Warakurna when she was visiting her auntie Pulpurra Davies, “my father’s younger sister.” Later after Maisie returned to Kintore, she began to paint on trips to Alice Springs. “No painting in Kintore, they don’t let young people do that painting – only old people.” After the recent passing of her father, Maisie moved to Haasts Bluff where she has family. She has been painting intermittently with Ikuntji Artists since 2014. . Her grandmother, Tanara Napanangka, sister of painter Anmanari Nolan, taught Maisie the Tjukurrpa of Kulkuta country, where she is from
Maisie Ward Nungurrayi paints “stories from her mother’s country – Kulkuta near Tjukurla, and Tingari one from father’s country – Junti – I can paint it. Songs, I know. I got the Song, big culture there. Big culture for everybody, at Kiwirrkura – not in the place Kiwirrkura, but out in the bush. A lot of women were there for big culture meeting, a couple of years ago (maybe 2012).”
“We travelled a lot from Kintore to Docker River. I’ve been visiting family, my father’s family, all over – Warburton, Punmu, Well 33.” Maisie Ward Nungurrayi is married to Patrick Donovan Jangala Brown, and she has one son, and one grandson. Maisie Ward Nungurrayi is connected to some of the major figures of the early Papunya arts movement. Her older brothers, George Ward Tjungurrayi, Yala Yala Gibbs and Willy Tjungurrayi, were among the first artists to paint for the Papunya Tula arts cooperative in the early 1970s.