In 1984, Thomas Tjapaljarri was one of a party of nine Pintupi speakers who made their first contact with non-Aboriginal people when they walked out of the desert west of Lake Mackay into the small Kiwirrkura community, just inside the West Australian border, west of Alice Springs. Three years later, along with his elder brothers Warlimpirrnga and Walala, he began painting for the Papunya Tula Artists cooperative.
Stories, or 'Dreamings,' of the Tingari Cycle are an important body of myth concerning the Tingari ancestors of the creative Dreamtime (or 'Dreaming'), period. The Tingari men and women traveled across great distances and laid down a body of ceremonies and other law which subsequently formed the basis of young men's higher (meaning post-initiation) education.
The stories themselves are communicated only to initiated men.
In art destined for the fine art market they are often represented as a series of roundels joined by a mesh of connecting lines, formally representing sacred places and the tracks of the ancestors between them. Thomas Tjapaltjarri’s distinctive representation is a variant of that convention.