Photographer, Ruth McDowall
Ruth McDowall was born in Taranaki, New Zealand in 1984. She grew an interest in documentary photography in her latter years of high school and from there completed a BFA at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, New Zealand. In 2008 she realized a life long dream to see Africa and visited Nigeria for 3 months. She returned in 2010 and set up a project to empower at risk youth by teaching them the skill of photography. Based in the Northern city of Jos which has been a flash point for ethnic and religious violence, her close friends and students have all been emotionally or physically affected by the crisis. Several of them lost loved ones and she too had witnessed violence and nearly fell victim to it on one occasion. While continuing to teach she began capturing the day-today reality and impact of the conflict. She believes her work has an extra layer of depth, insight and empathy because of the close relationships she formed in the community.
In late 2011 she decided to move into photography fulltime and begin freelancing. She has worked as a stringer for several international news agencies, and completed work for various NGO’s. She exhibited work on the Occupy Nigeria movement during Lagos Photo Festival in 2012. Recently she documented the journeys to school of nomadic Fulani children, for UNESCO and SIPA. The work was exhibited in a group show at the UNHQ in New York and Paris and will become a travelling exhibition in 2015 .
Ruth splits her time between Jos and Lagos and continues her long-term project on Northern Nigeria. Realizing the limits of photography she also continues her work with street youth in Jos www.murmushiphotoproject.com