Rosemary Bird Petyarre was born in the early 1950s at Atneltye, or Boundary Bore, on Utopia Station in the Northern Territory, located 270 kms northeast of Alice Springs. Rosemary Petyarre is the niece of the famous Aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye and sister of Jeannie Petyarre and half-sister of artists Greeny Purvis Petyarre and Evelyn Pultara. She is also a skin sister to other well-known artists including Gloria Petyarre, Kathleen Petyarre and Ada Bird Petyarre.
It is clear that Rosemary Petyarre has painting in her blood. Rosemary was one of a group of Anmatyerre women at the forefront of the Aboriginal art movement at Utopia. Like many of the women artists there, Rosemary Petyarre originally produced batik works, eventually moving to painting after encouragement from her aunt Emily Kame Kngwarreye.
As a bush woman, Rosemary Petyarre is familiar with her land and its abundant species of bush tucker, medicinal plants and native fauna. She and her sister Jeannie Petyarre inherited these stories, along with important women’s stories, from her ancestors via her aunt Emily and they form the basis of her paintings. The subject of many of Rosemary Petyarre’s paintings is a representation of leaves collected around her country and used for a variety of medicinal purposes. In particular, she returns again and again to Bush Yam Leaves and Bush Medicine, depicting these themes with flowing representations of the leaves. Typical of the Utopia artists, Rosemary Petyarre rejoices in the use of colour.
Today, Rosemary Petyarre spends her time between Utopia and Alice Springs. Rosemary Petyarre is a highly talented artist amongst the famous names of Aboriginal art who reside and work at Utopia Homelands. Rosemary Petyarre’s paintings have been acquired by collectors worldwide. Aboriginal art status – Established artist.
1989 Utopia Women’s Paintings, A Summer Project1990 A picture Story, 88 silk works from the Holmes à Court Collection, UK1993 Central Australian Aboriginal Art & Craft Exhibition, Alice Springs NT2008 Utopia Collection2, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA2014 Desert Song, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA