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Sue Ford

1943 – 2009

Sue Ford (née Winslow, 1943–2009), photographer, filmmaker and photo-media artist, grew up in the beachside suburbs of Melbourne and became interested in photography while on holiday in Europe at age 17. Aged 18, she enrolled in a photography course at RMIT and managed a small commercial studio in the city until 1967. Ford married in the mid-1960s; her two children, a daughter and son, were born in 1967 and 1968 respectively. Her break-out solo exhibition, Metamorphoses Series, was shown at the Hawthorn City Art Gallery and at the Yellow House, Sydney in 1971; her exhibition Time Series followed at Brummels Gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, in 1974 and 1975. Ford’s work of the 1960s and 70s was feminist in approach and, like that of photographers such as Carol Jerrems and Sandy Edwards, explored women’s everyday lives and the politics of representation. Her book of portraits, One sixtieth of a second – portraits of women 1961-1981, was published in 1987, photos from the series having been shown as an exhibition in Melbourne and Sydney in 1982. During the late 1980s, Ford became increasingly interested in Indigenous issues, travelling and photographing in Central Australia and later producing series such as From Van Diemen’s Land to Videoland (1990-92) and Shadow Portraits (1994) which looked at issues of race, representation and colonisation. One of the founders of the Reel Women filmmaker’s co-operative, Ford’s film, Faces 1976-1996, was nominated for an AFI award in 1997. A survey exhibition of her work was shown at Monash Gallery of Art in 1995; in all, by the time of her death from cancer in April 2009, Ford had held more than 20 solo exhibitions, including shows at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In addition, her work had featured in many important group shows, among them the 1982 Biennale of Sydney, Living in the 70s: Australian Photographs (NGA, 1987), Shades of light: photography and Australia (NGA, 1988) and the NPG’s Mirror with a Memory: Photographic Portraiture in Australia (2000). The first Australian woman photographer to have a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (in 1974), she will be the subject of a retrospective exhibition there in mid-2014.

Updated 2018