Roberts was born in Fflint, Wales. She studied at Wrexham School of Art, Central St Martin's School of Art and Design and Glasgow School of Art. Roberts established her name with paintings exploring the history of medicine, images of medical instruments, apparatuses and clothing, such as operating tables and straitjackets. Her paintings are recognisable by their focus on specific subjects, isolated within large planes of a single colour. Roberts uses thick, creamy paint, like cake icing, but her paintings have a realistic quality not usually associated with such impasto. Notable exhibitions include displays at Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (1997 and 2010), Sean Kelly Gallery, New York (1997, 1999 and 2003) and the British School in Rome (1996).