2021 Martin Kantor Portrait Prize

We are pleased to present the 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale Martin Kantor Portrait Prize. This is open to all photographers and photo media artists and gives you the chance to have your work displayed and viewed at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale from 28 August to 24 October 2021 in Ballarat.

The acquisitive first prize of $15,000 AUD, generously supported by the Dara Foundation, will be awarded to the work judged to be an exceptional photographic portrait of a significant Australian.

2017 Winner
Elli Bardas, Vicki Vidor OAM 

2019 Winner
Penelope Hunt, Finding Focus 

Key Dates

Applications Open: Now
Applications Close: 1 May 2021, 11.59pm AEST
Finalists Notified: 15 June 2021

The Prize

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale Martin Kantor Portrait Prize is both an exhibition and award for a photographic artwork of a significant Australian. This must be a portrait of a living individual distinguished in art, letters, science, sports or politics.

Entry Details

There is a simple three-step process to enter:

  1. Accept Terms and Conditions
  2. Complete the online form with personal details, upload a JPEG image (20cm on the long edge @ 300DPI) and an Artist Statement (up to 200 words).
  3. Make payment of $50 per image (10% discount for ‘Friends’) and you are successfully in the running for the cash prize!


Naomi Cass

Curator and writer, Naomi Cass is Director of Castlemaine Art Museum Renewal, and previously Director of the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Melbourne. As Director of Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, she oversaw the relocation of CCP to purpose-designed premises. Cass has curated a broad range of thematic and survey exhibitions, commissions and public programs for CCP, the Melbourne Festival, and recently, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale and Castlemaine Art Museum. Naomi is an Asialink Fellow.

Max Delany

Max Delany commenced the role of Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer at ACCA in February 2016. He was formerly Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2012–2016), and Director of Monash University Museum of Art (2004–2012), where he oversaw the development of MUMA’s award-winning architectural premises on the Caulfield campus.

Since 2011 Delany has also held the position of adjunct Associate Professor, Curatorial Practice, in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Monash University. He is currently Deputy Chair, Contemporary Art Organisations Australia (CAOA).

At ACCA, Delany has been responsible for curatorial projects including On Vulnerability and Doubt; Tom Nicholson: Public Meeting; The Theatre is Lying: The inaugural Macfarlane Commissions 2018–19 and Eva Rothschild: Kosmos 2018 (both with Annika Kristensen); Unfinished Business: Perspectives on art and feminism (with a curatorial team of Paola Balla, Julie Ewington, Annika Kristensen, Vikki McInnes and Elvis Richardson) 2017–18; Claire Lambe: Mother Holding Something Horrific (with Annika Kristensen) 2017,
Sovereignty (with Paola Balla) 2016–17 and Painting. More Painting (with Annika Kristensen and Hannah Mathews) 2016.

At the NGV Delany was responsible for a number of significant curatorial projects including Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei, 2015-16; David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing, 2014-15; Melbourne Now 2013-14 and Mix Tape 1980s: Appropriation, Subculture, Critical Style, 2013.

Other exhibitions include projects and commissions with artists including Simon Starling, Richard Bell, Emily Floyd, Juan Davila, Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, Paola Pivi, Carsten Holler, Carlos Amorales, Brook Andrew, Angela Brennan, Diena Georgetti, David Noonan and Tony Clark, among others. Selected curatorial projects include Lurid Beauty: Australian Surrealism and its Echoes (NGV 2015); Slave Pianos | Punkasila | Pipeline to Oblivion (MUMA 2011); Pitch Your Own Tent: Art Projects | Store 5 | 1st Floor (MUMA 2005); NEW05 (ACCA, 2005); Blackspot: Contemporary Indigenous Photography from the Monash University Collection, with selected loans (MUMA 2005); Octopus no.1 (Gertrude 2000); Mutlu Cerkez AND Marco Fusinato (Gertrude Contemporary 2003); Screen Life (with Stuart Koop, Museo Nacionale, Centro de Arte, Reina Sofia, Madrid, 2002); Strolling — the art of arcades, boulevards, barricades, publicity (Heide Museum of Modern Art 1998); 1956: Melbourne, Modernity and the XVI Olympiad (Heide Museum of Modern Art, 1996).

Bill Henson

Bill Henson is one of Australia’s most distinguished artists and his dark, enigmatic images have been exhibited extensively both locally and internationally over an incredible 45-year career. A seminal and internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, Henson’s sublime imagery proposes open-ended narratives that capture a fleeting sensation that occurs between childhood and adulthood, light and dark, the urban and suburban. There is a powerful sense of mystery and ambiguity within the images that is heightened by Henson’s use of chiaroscuro to selectively obscure and reveal the forms.

Henson’s first solo exhibition, held at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1975 when he was 19 years old, heralded the beginnings of a unique photographic vision of the Australian landscape. The NGV has now acquired over 100 works by Henson, the most significant of any public institution. Henson’s work is held in every major public collection in Australia and many overseas collections. Henson represented Australia at the 46th Venice Biennale in 1995.

Fiona Sweet

A prominent and highly respected arts director and curator, Fiona Sweet is renowned for inspiring and intelligent delivery of uniquely curated festivals and exhibitions. Currently, Fiona is the Creative Director of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, Australia’s leading contemporary photographic event.

Held every two years, the Biennale is a 60-day festival delivering a dynamic program of two major photographic exhibition streams: a curated Core Program showcasing acclaimed domestic and international artists and Open Program that fosters the development of new artists. Fiona is also the Director at the National Centre For Photography, Australia’s newest and only regional gallery dedicated exclusively to photography.

In 2017, her inaugural year as Creative Director, the Biennale drew an audience of over 26,800, contributing an economic impact of $3.89 million to the local economy with the celebrated American artist David LaChappelle as the headline artist.

Fiona’s directorship of the 2019 Biennale was responsible for more than 37,000 visitors with an injection of $7.8 million into the city’s economy. Her fourth year working with incredible artists and curators, the festival prompted audiences to question, explore and be changed by art. She successfully invited Chinese artist Liu Bolin as the headline artist, exhibiting his Camouflage series – highlighting critical works from the past 15 years of Bolin’s creative output.

As a curator, her interest lies in the interdisciplinary and experimental approaches to the photographic medium. Fiona’s practise often investigates the intersections between the human body and the human psyche and its response to shifting societal perspectives, power dynamics and challenges.

Fiona is an influential and in-demand public speaker, industry judge, photographic portfolio reviewer and assessor in Australia and internationally. The recipient of many prestigious design awards, Fiona was the Director and Founder of Sweet Creative and former Board Director of the Australian Graphic Design Association. Fiona was the recipient of an Ian Potter Foundation Travel Grant in 2018 for her research on international art festival best practice.

About the Sponsor

The Dara Foundation has graciously sponsored this award in memory of the late Martin Kantor. Kantor was a photographer and philanthropist who was known for his arresting portraits of famous musicians and artists like Iggy Pop, Howard Arkley, painter Adam Cullen and conceptual artist Dale Frank. His image of Mark Seymour, the lead singer of Hunters and Collectors, was used by the band for an album cover and is a classic representation of Australian rock and roll. Kantor founded the well-known St Kilda gallery Brightspace and was a strong supporter of indigenous and environmental causes.

Entries for the Martin Kantor Portrait Prize are now closed. For all enquiries, please email info@ballaratfoto.org