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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.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Sue Ford 1980-2006

1980-2006 (printed 2013)
Ruth Maddison

inkjet print on paper, edition 1/5 (image: 40.8 cm x 117.3 cm, sheet: 47.0 cm x 122.3 cm, frame: 50.0 cm x 125.3 cm depth 4.0 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.

Purchased 2013
© Ruth Maddison

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Ruth Maddison (age 35 in 1980)

Sue Ford (age 37 in 1980)

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
Miranda Otto
Miranda Otto
Miranda Otto

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.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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