Rosemary Petyarre - BUSH YAM LEAVES RP1653

Rosemary Petyarre Bush Yam Leaves Australian Aboriginal Art Painting on canvas RP1653


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Artist: Rosemary Petyarre
Skin Name: Petyarre (Pitjara)
Born: c.1945
Region: Utopia, Central Australia
Language: Anmatyerre
Subjects and Themes(Dreaming): Yam flower, Yam Seed, Medicine leaves.



Rosemary Petyarre was born in 1945 at Utopia, 350km east of Alice Springs in Central Australia. Rosemary comes from a strong artist family background, her Brother is famous aboriginal artist Grenny Purvis Petyarre (passed away

2010). Other famous Petyarre artists include well-known Gloria Petyarre, Jeannie Petyarre, Petyarre, Ada Bird Petyarre, Violet Petyarre, Myrtle Petyarre and Nancy Petyarre.

Rosemary was involved in the making of batik and in 1994 she and several other women from Utopia travelled to Indonesia to learn different techniques for producing batik.

Like most other Utopian artists, Rosemary began her formal artist career with the Summer Project, sponsored by CAAMA in 1988-89, which led to painting with acrylic on canvas.


  • 1996 The Meeting Place, - touring exhibition, Australia
  • 1996 Nangara, Stitching Sint-Jan, Brugge, The Netherlands
  • 1998 Dacou Gallery, Australia

SOURCE: Birnberg, M & Kreczmanski, JB 2004, Aboriginal artists dictionary of biographies: Western Desert, Central Desert and Kimberley Region, 1st edn., JB Publishing, Marleston.

This artwork depicts its interweaving leaves of Pencil yam plant in central Australia.

Pencil yam is an important bush tucker food for Aboriginal people and is a significant Dreaming stories form Utopia and whose to have attachment to the origins of the pencil yam. It is celebrated in their Awelye ceremonies. Certain song lines, body paint and dance cycles are performed to pay homage to ensure perpetual germination of the pencil yam plant.

The Aboriginal women from Utopia dig them up in creek-beds. They look for the white roots, then cook them in the hot earth beside the fire until they are just firm.


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