Logan at the Kiah River

Ruth Maddison

Ruth Maddison is a self-taught photographic artist living and working in Eden, NSW. Maddison’s work explores themes of relationships, communities and families, offering glimpses into the daily lives and rituals of ordinary citizens within their homes, workplaces and neighbourhoods.

Ruth's career spans more than 40 years of working in broad-ranging areas including lecturing, freelance, commissioned and self-initiated works for publications, special projects and exhibitions. Since moving from Melbourne to Eden in 1996 her work has included intervened landscape, printed and sewn fabric, and video.

Maddison’s work is held in many major state and national collections throughout Australia.


The first images from ‘When no birds sing’ were shot on the 31 December 2019. In the early morning evacuee holiday makers and residents from the bush villages surrounding Eden began to arrive in town and set up camp on the sports oval. The community provided free food, drink, blankets, beds in spare rooms… whatever people needed. We had been watching the fires approaching for 3 days with no way out. The Princes Highway south and north, and Brown Mountain towards Canberra, were closed.

On the 1st January 2020, Brown Mountain opened for people who wanted to evacuate. But the Bermagui-Cobargo Road was also closed and my Bermagui family was trapped so I didn’t want to leave knowing they still couldn’t get out.

On the 3rd January the Bermi-Cobargo road opened for people to leave and the Brown Mountain, which had re-closed, was opened again. We threw things into our cars and evacuated to Canberra.

I returned on the 14th of January 2020 and continued to photograph my community, as I have been doing since I moved here in 1996.

Social documentary has been a major part of my work since I began professional practice in 1976. My more recent practice includes early photographic practices – photograms, lumen prints and chemigrams, as well as printed and sewn fabric and video works.

I am currently working on a survey exhibition for the Centre of Contemporary Photography in Melbourne February – April 2021, ‘It was the best of times it was the worst of times.’ The exhibition will include a selection of the history of my work and a major new long-term project.

The project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, it’s arts funding and advisory body.


Whilst in residence at Bundanon, Ruth continued her work on a three year project “The Fellow Traveller”.