Ruth Maddison / In Residence / July 30 – August 23 2014
In 2013 I was awarded a 3-months residency at Artspace Visual Arts Centre in Sydney. The residency was offered to a regional artist. (I live in Eden on the far south coast of NSW, half way between Sydney and Melbourne.) I was keen to be one of the small group of national & international artists that would be in residence; to be able to see and talk about each other’s work; to arrange studio visits with curators & others for suggestions/responses to a project I’m currently working on but had been struggling with; to take advantage of what Sydney has to offer that isn’t available to me in Eden; and to make whatever new work I might make in a different location.
I used to describe my work as portrait and documentary. I came to photography untrained in any area of image making and ignorant of all art theory. I picked up a camera in 1976 when I was 30 and it was love at first negative. I was a politically conscious quasi-sociologist and voyeur working with a camera.
These days I don’t quite know how to describe my work. Thirty-eight years later all I can say is I see images. Using a camera taught me to see what I am looking at, and now I can’t stop seeing. I have a desire, a compulsion, a spontaneous impulse to frame up. Anything can interest me and it may not relate to anything I’ve done before or anything I’m working on. But it might one day. I usually don’t think about any of that. Everything I do and see and know somehow becomes included in what I want to translate into images.
Maybe I am still a documentary photographer. I’m documenting the passage of my life via my image making. I’m recording what it is that makes me want to go on and on with the camera.
American photographer Emmet Gowin said, “You keep coming back to the problem, and you keep touching it and you keep caressing it, and thinking about it, and in a way loving it. You love the problem”.
Maddison was born in Melbourne but now lives in Eden, on the far south coast of NSW. She is a self-taught photographic artist who picked up a camera when she was 30. Her work history includes wide-ranging freelance assignments and projects for newspaper and magazines, government and non-government organization, publishing companies, theatre and music photography, tutoring and lecturing, and exhibition work.
First solo exhibition -1979 at Ewing Gallery, Melbourne.
Most recent – 2012 at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre in Melbourne.
Most recent group exhibition – May 2014. ‘Khem’ at Strange Neighbour Gallery, Melbourne, and her work will be included in ‘Feminist Photography in Australia’ at Monash Gallery of Art later this year.
She is represented in many major collections, including:
National Gallery of Australia
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery of Victoria
Monash Gallery of Art
Parliament House Art Collection
Queensland Art Gallery
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Tasmanian Museum and Gallery
Gold Coast City Gallery
National Library of Australia Picture Collection
State Library of NSW Picture Collection
State Library of Victoria Picture Collection