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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Sue Ford 1980-2006, (printed 2013)

Ruth Maddison

inkjet print on paper (frame: 50.0 cm x 125.3 cm, sheet: 47.0 cm x 122.3 cm, image: 40.8 cm x 117.3 cm)

Sue Ford (née Winslow, 1943–2009), photographer, filmmaker and photo-media artist, studied photography at RMIT, managed a small commercial studio in Melbourne and had two children before her break-out solo exhibition in 1971. In 1974 she became the first Australian woman photographer to have a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Ford’s work of the 1960s and 70s explored women’s everyday lives and the politics of female representation. Her book of exhibited portraits, One sixtieth of a second – portraits of women 1961-1981, was published in 1987. During the late 1980s, her travels in Central Australia gave rise to series to do with race, representation and colonisation including From Van Diemen’s Land to Videoland (1990-92) and Shadow Portraits (1994). Ford was one of the founders of the Reel Women filmmaker’s co-operative; her film Faces 1976-1996 was nominated for an AFI award in 1997. By the time of her death she had held more than 20 solo exhibitions. In addition, her work had featured in many important group shows, among them the 1982 Biennale of Sydney, Living in the 70s: Australian Photographs (1987), Shades of light: photography and Australia (1988) and Mirror with a Memory: Photographic Portraiture in Australia (2000) at the National Portrait Gallery. She was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the NGV in mid-2014.

Ruth Maddison began taking photographs in the mid-1970s and found a strong support in Ford; they often photographed each other, and each other’s children. She recalls that the 1980 image was taken at her home in Clifton Hill, and the 2006 image at a café in Carlisle Street, St. Kilda, near Ford’s home.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2013

Accession number: 2013.54

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ruth Maddison (age 68 in 2013)

Sue Ford

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell

Eye to eye

Previous exhibition, 2019

Eye to Eye is a summer Portrait Gallery Collection remix arranged by degree of eye contact – from turned away with eyes closed all the way through to right-back-at-you – as we explore artists’ and subjects’ choices around the direction of the gaze.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.