Rosemary Petyarre was born at Utopia, north east of Alice Springs, Northern Territory. Rosemary is also known as Rosemary Pitjara and she is the sister of famous Aboriginal artist Greenie Purvis Petyarre.
Rosemary was one of a group of Anmatyerre women at the forefront of the art movement in the Utopia area, and was amongst a group of women from Utopia who travelled to Indonesia to learn different techniques for producing batik. Following the Holmes a Court Summer Project, sponsored by CAAMA in 1988-89, she spread her wings and commenced painting with acrylic on canvas.
In her paintings, she incorporates traditional iconography and realistic elements. The themes are primarily bush medicines, yam dreaming and body painting. As a bush woman, she is familiar with her land and its abundance of bush tucker species, medicine plants and native fauna. These are the stories inherited by her, along with important women's stories, and which form the basis of her paintings.
Rosemary’s upbringing was spent learning traditional ways bush tucker and bush medicine gathering. Rosemary inherited Dreaming stories associated with this and they form the basis of her works. The majority of Rosemary’s works depict the leaves of the Kurrajong tree used in the Utopia region to treat a variety of ailments. The women collect the leaves, dry and mix them with Kangaroo fat, in order to extract the plant's medicinal qualities. The significance of the Kurrajong tree and the part it plays in healing is celebrated in the Women's Awelye ceremonies.
Rosemary’s works are usually characterised by the use of bright vibrant colours and a sense of flowing movement through the leaves.