Tjunkaya Tapaya OAM grew up at the Ernabella Mission where she went to school and later worked learning and demonstrating to her peers various domestic skills. In mission days, the building which is now the art centre was originally used as a food hall. In 1948 it became the craft room, where the first work was by women, spinning wool and rug making. Tjunkaya began work in the craft room in the medium of batik and became one of the outstanding artists with work in several public collections. Recently, Tjunkaya has chosen to concentrate exclusively on painting and tjanpi sculpture. Her work has been seen in numerous exhibitions in Australia and internationally since 1971, in both public and private galleries. In 2020 Tjunkaya was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of her work in education and art.