Narlie Nakamarra was born in Haasts Bluff in 1948. She is the eldest daughter of renowned Papunya Tula artist Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula and his first wife Merewenjina Napanangka. There was another daughter of this marriage, Maggie, born in 1951, who later married one of the youngest of the founding group of painters at Papunya, David Corby Tjapaltjarri.
After Merewenjina's death, Johnny married Gladys (Yawintji) Napanangka and Narlie grew up with their six children: sons Michael and Dennis, and daughters Emma, Candy, Minnie, and another who passed away.
Narlie worked for fifteen years in the Papunya pre-school with Martha McDonald before she left and began painting. She describes herself as self-taught. She learnt the stories of Kalipinypa which she mostly paints from her father, although she represents this famous subject in her own way. She is also an accomplished weaver of baskets and maker of seed necklaces.
She enjoys painting with other family members at the Papunya Tjupi Art Centre.
Papunya Tjupi art centre is located in Papunya NT, birthplace of the desert painting movement. Many of its 150 artists are the relatives and descendants of the founding group of artists in 1971.