Ruth Maddison is an Australian photographer born in 1945. She started photography in the 1970s and continues to make contributions to the Australian visual arts community.
Maddison is an Australian photographer who now resides at Eden on the south coast of New South Wales. She was born on 18 November 1945. As a first-year physiotherapy student, and a mother of three children, Maddison held various miscellaneous jobs before venturing into photography in 1976. Her friend, Ponch Hawkes, who was a photographer, encouraged her to use an available camera and a home set-up darkroom. This would lead to a commercial project six months later and a solo exhibition to follow within a period of three years. Although self-taught, she has seen both commercial and critical success nationally.
Maddison has also held a position as a lecturer at an Australian learning institute.
“I see an individual’s life as being immensely rich and deep and complex, and everyone a mixture of ordinary and extraordinary. From my first roll of film, I wanted to photograph people.”
Her list of accolades include the Hobart City Art Prize (2007) and the Josephine Ulrick National Photography Prize for Portraiture (2002).
In 2013, Maddison was the recipient of a 3-months residency at the Artspace Visual Arts Centre in Sydney. This is a program made possible by the collaboration between Regional Arts New South Wales and Sydney Gallery, and sponsored by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. It offers regional artists the space, finance, and curatorial assistance to create and exhibit their works in an urban environment, and to make contributions to the visual arts community at large.
Maddison’s career as a freelance photographer encompasses commissioned projects for theater companies, governmental organizations, and newspaper agencies. From 1984 to 1985, she became involved in a project called artists-in-community, which was funded by the Victorian Ministry for the Arts. As her professional interests lie in portraiture and social documentary, there is a strong sense of intimacy in Maddison’s work. Throughout the 1980s, most of her photographs were of people in social environments within the metropolitan Melbourne area. Since moving from the city to a more rural, sea-side location in 1996, and being a prolific photographer, her portfolio has expanded to include many recognized series from then to now focusing on the stories of people in the Eden and Pambula district in New South Wales. These include: Now A River Went Out of Eden (2002) and Girt by Sea (2008).
She continues to explore themes of relationships, communities and families. Maddison’s projects often speak of the ties-that-bind, offering the viewers glimpses into the daily lives and rituals of ordinary citizens within their homes and neighbourhoods. Furthermore, her endeavors as a feminist photographer have given a voice to women in the community and the feminist movement within Australia in the 1970s and 1980s at large. These include: And so…we joined the Union (1985), Women over 60 (1991) and Single Mothers (1995).