Sue Ford

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Susanne Helene Winslow
Born1943 (1943)
St Kilda, Victoria, Australia
Died2009 (aged 65–66)

Sue Ford (19 March 1943 – 6 November 2009) was an Australian photographer. Her eclectic practice was displayed in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2014.


Sue Ford was born Susanne Helene Winslow on 19 March 1943, in St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria.[1] She was an Australian feminist photographer.[2] Ford had a continuing interest in Indigenous issues, travelling widely and photographing in remote areas of Central Australia. [3] In 1988, she travelled to Bathurst Island, Northern Territory, to conduct photography workshops with Tiwi women. She moved between Bathurst Island and the Barunga Festival (Northern Territory, Sydney and Melbourne) to photograph events connected to the bicentenary of Australia. Between 1990 and 1992, Ford's process shifted from direct camera work to a series of collage images. Each collage was gridded up and each grab section later printed at A3 size to create large format grid images. She also worked with a series of ink and watercolour paintings related to her impression of the Cook Islands, Bathurst Island and the deserts in NT. In 1991 Ford bought a house in Marlborough Street, Balaclava, Melbourne where she lived until 2009. She made a second trip to Bathurst Island to work with the Tiwi women in the same year. Ford died in 2009 in her Balaclava home on 6 November, surrounded by her family and friends. In 2010, the Sue Ford archive was established. In 2011 Ford's last major body of work Self Portrait with a Camera, 1960-2006, was exhibited at Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne. It involves a conflation and compression of time. It includes some of Ford's earliest photographs alongside her most recent and deeply personal yet ordered and objective at the same time. The earliest photographs in the series are from when Ford was first introduced to the camera.[1]

Early life[edit]

The earliest photographs are from when Ford was first introduced to the camera. Ford was given her first camera in her late teens to take with her on a family holiday to Europe.[4] It was on her return in 1961 that Ford found employment as a delivery girl for Sutcliffe photographers in Melbourne and working as a darkroom assistant. In 1962, she enrolled in a photography course at RMIT, she was only one of two females in a class of thirty students. Ford completed only the first year of a three-year course. She then rented a studio in Little Collins street, Melbourne with a friend Annette Stephens, a fellow RMIT student and friend. This was above a small cafe. Ford also documented her children extensively and experimented with concepts for children's books, pairing images and text in imaginative narrative sequences that were often connected by a theme of escape. In the late 1960s Ford created several bodies of work that contained simplex montages, photograms and layers negatives, received hours of darkroom experimentation. The photo collage Man off the moon, c. 1969 critiqued the first moonwalk by NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Using images shot on a television screen, Ford places her hand into the scene, directing the astronauts like a puppet in a way that asserts her own presence and questions intention of the Americans on the lunar landscape.[1]

Family life[edit]

Ford moved to Dunmoochin, Cottlesbridge[clarification needed] for a brief period, then to Laughing Waters Road, Eltham with her spouse Gordon Ford. Their first home was destroyed by bushfire, and they then moved to Pitt Street in Eltham and built a mud brick studio there including a darkroom, they also conducted a short lived child portrait business at the same time as working for Eltham Film Productions. In 1967 her daughter Emma Ford was born. Then in 1968, her son Ben Ford was born. In 1970, Gordon built a new mud brick house for the family at Laughing Waters Road. In 1972 they moved into the new mud brick house at Laughing Waters Road. In 1975 Ford moved to Sydney, but travelled regularly back to Melbourne. In 1980, they returned to North Carlton, Melbourne. At this time Ford was active as a founding member of Reel Women feminist filmmakers.[1] Ford was a member of other feminist film co-operatives over her career, including: the Feminist Film Workers collective (1970s and 1980s) and the Women’s Film Unit in 1985.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1982, Ford suffered a serious horse riding accident that resulted in a back injury; as a result Ford could not photograph for some time and commenced painting. Living in Williamstown from 1983-1985, Victoria. Melbourne.[clarification needed] Ford travelled each winter to Byron Bay, NSW, making many friends and working on art projects. Ford dropped out of RMIT due to sexual harassment in the darkroom during her first year. She constantly turned the camera on herself, her family, friends and acquaintances for social and political ends. Her experimentation with technique and media including not only photography but film, video, painting, drawing and later printing was also connected, from the very beginning, by interest in the politics of representation. She also studied at the Victorian College of Arts (VCA) 1973-1974. In 1974, the NGV's display of Time Series 1962-74 constituted the first solo exhibition by an Australian photographer.[1]


  • 2004

Solo Exhibitions - Watter's Gallery, Sydney.

Group Exhibitions - NGV, Melbourne. - National Library of Australia, Canberra

  • 2003

Solo Exhibitions - ARC ONE-Span, Melbourne

Group Exhibitions - NGV, Melbourne - Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne

  • 2002

Solo Exhibitions - ARC ONE-Span, Melbourne

Grants - Arts Victoria grant for the continuum series - Melbourne City Council grant for continuum large-scale digital prints

Group Exhibitions - Fieldwork: Australia Art 1968-2002, NGV, Melbourne - Berlin Film Festival, Germany

  • 2000

Group Exhibitions - National Portrait Gallery, Canberra - Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney - Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne

  • 1999

Group Exhibitions - Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane - Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne

Solo Exhibitions - Somewhere in France 1917 Watter's Gallery, Sydney; Parliament House, Canberra

  • 1998

Group Exhibitions - National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne - Monash University Gallery of Art, Melbourne

Solo Exhibitions - Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

  • 1997

Solo Exhibition - Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney

  • 1995

Solo Exhibitions - Watter's Gallery Sydney - Monash University Gallery, Melbourne

Group Exhibitions - Watter's Gallery, Sydney - National Gallery of Australia, Canberra - Museum of the Northern Territory, Darwin - Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

  • 1994

Solo Exhibition - National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Group Exhibition - Pictograms: Aspects of Contemporary Photographic Practice Touring Exhibition throughout Australia

  • 1993

Group Exhibition From the Empire's End: Nine Australian and Spanish Photographers Bathurst Regional Gallery[1]

  • 1971

Solo Exhibition - Metamorphoses Series, Hawthorn City Art Gallery, Yellow House, Sydney[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Finch, Maggie (2014). Sue Ford. National Gallery of Victoria. ISBN 978-0-7241-0382-9.
  2. ^ Ford, Ben. "History". Sue Ford. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Sue Ford". National Portrait Gallery.
  4. ^ a b "Sue Ford, National Portrait Gallery". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  5. ^ Teffer, Nicola. "Know My Name: Sue Ford". Retrieved 13 August 2020.