Ruth Maddison | When No Birds Sing | Online Exhibition
"As I opened the car door, I was hit by silence. It was a physical thing and... nothing, nothing just nothing. It’s extraordinary because you think about all the sounds that you hear normally when you stand in the bush. You hear the wind, you hear leaves, you hear the birds, you hear the odd something. Is it a snake? Is it a skink? And you hear bigger things, a wallaby? That silence in that environment is wrong." - Ruth Maddison, September 2020
When No Birds Sing is a singular and poetic response to the recent bushfires that swept through the south coast of NSW. It marks both the epic scale of the destruction, as well as the tiny, everyday impacts upon the humans and animals that inhabited the landscape. Alongside the huge devastation, these direct and lyrical photographs mark the resilience and regeneration of individuals, communities, flora and fauna.
Ruth Maddison has, throughout her photographic practice, responded intuitively to the communities and environments she has lived in when a major event has occurred. Maddison and her family were at the heart of the bushfire disaster, and through these recent and deeply affecting works the viewer can see the immediacy of her photographs, as well as her self-taught technical prowess.
Maddison’s work explores themes of relationships, communities and families, offering glimpses into the daily lives and rituals of ordinary citizens within their home, workplace and neighbourhood. Her career spans more than 40 years of teaching, publishing and exhibiting. 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. A large-scale survey of her work is to be held at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne in 2021, with the assistance of the Australian Government through the Australia Council.
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