Denise Ferris


Denise Ferris




Artist Statement

Denise Ferris is an artist living in a small town of rural Australia and lecturing in Photography at the School of Art, the Australian National University in Canberra. Currently the site-specific photographic representation of the non-epic sublime landscape is of central interest, making photographs that question sustainability, human and environmental change, aesthetics and place. Over the last decade photographs have been made during winters in Perisher Valley, NSW and in winter 2011 also in Norway. Some of these photographs have been exhibited in award and group shows. The large exhibition weather report (2006), was an example of a continuing fascination with direct photographic capture- the 'street photograph' in a non-urban situation. weather report was made over winter in Switzerland during a residency at Halenstein near Chur.

Beginning with Given Grace in 1998, subsequent exhibitions centred on maternal issues, from both personal experience and as an examination of broader social politics. For example Home Decorum (2003) and The Madonna Myth (2002) advocate questioning society’s acceptance of the status quo in the work of care, where an inordinate contribution is routinely expected by society from care givers who are women. While another series Vestment (2004) suggests the perpetuity of the maternal connection, representing its enduring and binding relationship. As a formal and conceptual strategy alluding to the complexities inherent in mothering, these works contain a combination of the nurturing protein of milk, casein with a poisonous chemical, dichromate. They are printed in sunlight using this nineteenth century recipe for a photographic emulsion.

Interested in visual representations of the maternal, a number of conference papers demonstrate research on the power of photography in this representation. (See a full list of Conference Papers on this site.) The paper Regarding the Familiar, the Maternal Gaze and the Child Image in Fine Art Photography investigates representations by photographer-mothers of their own children. It examines the implications when photographs construct our image of childhood, and analyses the attendant anxieties on the proliferation of the public child photograph and maternal photography in fine art that picture maternal relationships. The Line of Pleasure, the Genealogy of Maternal Photography, traced a maternal photographic lineage, harbouring both amateur and professional intentions, from the nineteenth century to her own more recent photographic representations of childhood.

Denise’s photographs are in Australian public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, The Canberra Museum and Gallery and the National Library of Australia, as well as international collections including the District Six Museum, Cape Town and Nara City, Japan.



“Denise Ferris,” Artist Parent Index , accessed July 15, 2024,

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