I live near Grafton, in Northern NSW and have my studio at Seelands, right beside the Clarence River.  I am deeply influenced by my connection with, and experiences of the riparian landscapes of the rivers and streams where I live.  In my art practice I explore these landscapes through drawing, mixed media and installation and have developed a personal sense of kinship with particular Trees. Each visit to the Tree enables a deeper learning of the subject.  In the field I make ‘Tree portraits’ that are literally imbued with the waters and sediments of the River.  

A portrait comes into being as a large-scale drawing on a length of paper that varies from 2.5 to 4 metres. The fragility and strength of the paper substrate is central to my process of immersing drawings in the River. The 350gsm Arches paper is strong and malleable in the River for a limited period.  As a plant-based product it absorbs the River sediment, minerals, clay and accidental mud stains. This process changes the qualities of the pencil and gouache markings I make in the studio and infuses them into the paper surface (much like etching does).  I understand this to-and-fro process of experimentation and play as a collaboration with the River.

Hung vertically in the gallery, the towering scale of these large drawings shifts the viewer’s experience. They must tilt their head up to see the canopy and down to see the roots, just as they would in the landscape. The immensity of each Tree and the magnificence of the River are literally and experientially embedded into the drawings to remind us of our place in the world.

For me, this is beauty in the true sense of the word – these gnarled, twisted, old-growth Trees are living evidence of strength, endurance and adaptation to their environment.  They exist in a rich riparian landscape, a meeting of river and land, a flourishing place between. I want to share my joy of these huge old Trees and their vital connection to the River I love in the hope it will increase appreciation of and respect for riparian landscapes.

Rochelle in front of her latest Tree portrait


 Based in Northern NSW, Rochelle Summerfield is a multidisciplinary artist and has worked with drawing, paint, collage, print media and installation.  Her work delves into the plight of riparian ecosystems, as she raises awareness about the human need for connection with nature. 

Rochelle has work in numerous public and private collections, including the National Library Permanent Collection, State Library of Victoria Collection, RMIT Gallery Melbourne, Charles Sturt University Art Collection, University of Ballarat Art Collection, Tweed Regional Gallery and others.

She has been selected for national exhibitions, artist residencies and was overall winner of the photomedia prize, 2017 Moreton Bay Region Art Awards, Qld.  Exhibitions include the Windmill Trust Scholarship 20th Anniversary Retrospective and the nationally touring ‘As Far As The Eye Can See’, curated by Rilka Oakley of Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.

Her solo show ‘Crossroads’ at the Western Plains Cultural Centre in December 2019, explored the drought affected Macquarie River.  In 2022, Rochelle was selected to exhibit in WATER: presence and absence, curator Rilka Oakley, December 2022-January 2023, at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Katoomba and most recently she had a solo show at Grafton Regional Gallery ‘On the River’s edge we meet’ during April-June, 2023.

In 2021, Rochelle co-coordinated ‘Irreverent Matter’, at Hazelhurst Arts Centre, Sydney and included her kinetic and paint installation about the feral population.  Another exciting group project she is a part of, is ‘Hopeful Disruptions: Caring for Birrinba (Clarence River)’. With onsite environmental work and exhibitions, it had the support of NSW Arts Restart and Arts NR in 2021.  Upcoming, Rochelle has been selected for the George’s River Artist in Residency in Sydney, Feb 2024. 

Rochelle has an MA by Research, at Southern Cross University and First Class Honours.  

Rochelle is available for artist talks and community workshops in drawing, mixed media, collage and print. 

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