23
Nov
09

Vale Sue Ford (1943-2009)

November 2009

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Dissolution
2006
from the Last Light series

 

 

One thing always struck me about Sue Ford’s work when I saw it. The work had integrity.

Whatever she produced it was always interesting, valid and had integrity. She followed her own path as we all do – and her voice was clear, focused and eloquent. I loved her series Shadow Portraits – an erudite investigation into the nature of Australian identity if ever there was one!

Vale Sue Ford.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

.
Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Barbara Hal. “Australian pioneer focused on her art,” in The Age newspaper November 21, 2009 [Online] Cited 10 May 2019

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Silhouette
2006
from the Last Light series

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Apparition
2007
from the Last Light series

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Transparent
2007
from the Last Light series

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Shadow portraits' (detail)1994

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Shadow portraits (detail)
1994
Colour photocopies

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Shadow portraits' (detail)1994

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Shadow portraits (detail)
1994
Colour photocopies

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Shadow portraits' (detail)1994

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Shadow portraits (detail)
1994
Colour photocopies

 

 

For Shadow portraits, Ford, like numerous artists in this period, mined historical archives of photographs for her source material, decontextualising and reworking it. Her starting point was nineteenth-century studio portraits of settler Australians that were popular in colonial society. She exploded her previous practice and intense focus on the faces of individuals; in most cases the subjects of the original photographs used in Shadow portraits are unrecognisable. Their faces have been emptied out and replaced by Ford’s generic images of Australian foliage, especially fern fronds. All the details that define an individual, their character and appearance, have disappeared, just like the sitters themselves who have been dead for decades and exist only in ghosted form.

Individual works in Shadow portraits (above) rely on a dynamic relationship between historical and contemporary images to create something new. The original studio portrait is not intact, having undergone an extended process of transformation; being re-photographed, cut up and photocopied to eventually take the form of a large gridded image. Use of the grid – an obvious reference to European systems of containment and control – continues the experimentation evident in Yellowcake. Overlaps, like the doubled image of a stereoscopic card, are purposefully exploited. The aim is to destabilise a once-static historic image, to turn the small into big, the tones into colour, the positive into negative and so on. Through these means the colonial past is represented as having continuing reverberations: the loss of concreteness in the images and distortions of scale parallel the incompleteness, gaps and blow-outs characteristic of any historical narrative. As Zara Stanhope writes, Ford’s Shadow portraits ‘image the ongoing processes involved in the construction of histories, and the power to know and remember, that provides the opportunity to revisit or critique such accounts’.

Associate Professor Helen Ennis. “Sue Ford’s history,” in Art Journal 50, National Gallery of Victoria, 2011 [Online] Cited 11/05/2019

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Ross, 1964; Ross, 1974' printed 1974

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Ross, 1964; Ross, 1974
printed 1974
From the Time series (1962-74)
Gelatin silver print
11.1 × 20.1 cm
© Sue Ford

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Big secret!' c. 1960-1961

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Big secret!
c. 1960-1961
Gelatin silver print
28.9 × 23.6 cm
© Sue Ford

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Orpheus' 1972

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Orpheus
1972
Gelatin silver print
33.8 × 33.8 cm
© Sue Ford

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'No title (Photogram of two hands and garden path)' c. 1970

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
No title (Photogram of two hands and garden path)
c. 1970
Gelatin silver print
27.6 × 34.7 cm irreg. (image and sheet)
© Sue Ford

 

 

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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