News – Insider’s guide to three days at BIFB

Experience an insider’s guide to a world-class photographic festival showcasing works by regional, national and international artists in the historic city of Ballarat in regional Victoria. Immerse yourself in the Biennale and discover photography in its heritage-listed buildings, streets and laneways.


Day One

12pm Arrive at the Ballarat Mining Exchange 12 Lydiard Street North

Exclusive to Ballarat, the world premiere exhibition of How to Fly by Swedish photographer Erik Johansson’s is a breathtaking suite of surreal landscapes and optical illusions that defy reality in a journey through the imaginary worlds he creates.

Kyle Archie Knight’s Cruising for a Bruising is a camp love letter to the Australian Suburbs and his debut photobook delves into family archives, alongside memories of suburbia and growing pains he experienced over the years.

1pm Enjoy a delicious light lunch at a venue of your choice from the Open Program exhibition venues, for example, Lola at The Provincial Hotel, Mitchell Harris Wine Bar, The Forge Pizzeria and Craig’s Royal Hotel are all nearby (noting some are not open every day).

2pm Walk to the Post Office Gallery, cnr Sturt Street North & Sturt Street

Stephen Dupont’s photographic mishaps celebrate chance and imperfection in Fucked Up Fotos. The series spans thirty years, five continents and more than a dozen countries, including Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, China, and Romania.

2.45pm Walk to the National Centre for Photography, 4 Lydiard Street South

As you cross Sturt Street, take some time to view Claiming Heritage on the windows of the Xin Jin Shan Chinese Library, where William Yang presents a rich visual record of his experiences, from the emergence of Sydney’s gay community to his personal Chinese heritage and family relationships. Tongpop Pantheon by Telly Tuita is featured on three large installations in Sturt Street. Tuita’s work is a collision of Indigenous and pop sensibilities, where traditional grounded oral cultures dance with global mass media.

Lisa Roet’s radiant Golden Monkey sculpture takes the form of the endangered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey with its distinct upturned face and long tail, and clings to the side of the building which will soon become the National Centre for Photography, a new permanent home for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

3pm Martin Kantor Portrait Prize, Town Hall Ballarat, A Hall

The Martin Kantor Portrait Prize is an exceptional opportunity for photo media artists to showcase their talent and have their work viewed at one of the most prestigious photographic events in Australia. Julie Kantor and Michael Kantor have graciously sponsored this award in memory of their brother, Martin Kantor.

4pm Check in to your accommodation venue to unpack and change for dinner at one of Ballarat’s many renowned restaurants, pubs or casual eateries.

Day Two

9am Breakfast at your accommodation venue or nearby local café.

10am Prompted Peculiar – International AI Prize, 737 Sturt Street (entry via rear laneway)

Discover one of Ballarat’s newest private gallery spaces at BAaD Gallery & Events in Moloney Architects with entry via the rear laneway (access via Errard Street South).

The inaugural BIFB Prompted Peculiar — International AI Prize brings us squarely into the world of images generated by prompting Artificial Intelligence to create art. This is a global competition that offers a $2000 prize to the overall winner and $1000 to the People’s Choice award.

10:30am Walk or drive around Lake Wendouree and along the leafy inner-city areas around Webster Street to be surprised by photographic works displayed on Caine Property real estate sign boards. A great starting point is the Lake View Hotel which features a work by Australian artist based in Normandy, Kylie Ruszczynski.

12pm Visit Ballarat Railway Station, Lydiard Street North

Melbourne artist, Kate Ballis transforms the Ballarat Railway Station into a three-dimensional experience, integrating her photographs into the heritage station architecture, windows and staircases, and guiding commuters through a portal to mythical worlds in Portals to Atlantis.

The adjacent public plaza at The Goods Shed has two Tongpop Pantheon installations with vivid works by Tongan born Telly Tuita.

1pm  Enjoy a delicious light lunch at a venue of your choice such as Lydiard General, Tin Roof Café or The North Star Hotel, all on Lydiard Street North.

2pm Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North

Explore six photography exhibitions featuring international and Australian artists inside the oldest and largest regional gallery in Australia.

People Power – Platon is an exhibition of arresting portraits of some of the most significant people of our time.  From the glare of Putin to the rebellion of Pussy Riot, the contortion of Gaddafi to Michelle Obama, Adele and the art and expression of Vivienne Westwood, Platon captures a soulfulness, a narrative in their eyes, their essence in a single frame.

Also on show:

4:30pm UV Songlines: Illuminating Ancestral Roots – Colleen Strangways

Next to the Art Gallery of Ballarat, you’ll find a shyly hidden empty shop (52 Lydiard Street North), a rustic venue for this exhibition. Colleen Raven Strangways’ photography is infused with a spirit of activism and acknowledgment, sparked by her relationship with courageous First Nations women and her trailblazing father. Commissioned in partnership with the Art Gallery of South Australia, this exhibition features illuminated works printed on fabric allowing the features to ‘glow’.

5pm Alfred Deakin Place via Police Lane

Stroll down Police Lane on the southern side of the Art Gallery of Ballarat building for a wall of works from the series here, there, everywhere, a sometimes-humorous insight into life in India by Vineet Vohra.

Street party of children in school uniforms, some balancing on rocks

Search beyond the algorithm and witness new cyber landscapes on the ArtScreen at Alfred Deakin Square. Digital Anthropocene showcases the work of Serwah Attafuah and Jonathan Zawada – merging the worlds of science and art at the virtual forefront.

6pm Return to accommodation or seek out another Open Program venue for dinner and drinks after a full day.

Day Three

9am Breakfast at your accommodation venue or nearby local café. Take some time to check out Ballarat’s local shops and businesses

11am The Real Thing, 41-43 Lydiard Street North

On arrival at The Real Thing, be sure to look up for a visual feast! The building features a massive paste-up of Vineet Vohra’s street photography, while adjacent Regent Cinemas is the perfect centrepiece for David Cossini’s exhibition Business in the Front, Party in the Back!

Inside, explore The Real Thing, an exhibition curated by BIFB founder, Jeff Moorfoot OAM featuring highly credentialed artists working in a range of genres including fine art, photojournalism, commercial, documentary, and alternate process, celebrating the expertise and thriving communities of practicing photographers in regional Victoria.

Be sure to go upstairs to the hidden gems. Core program artist Michael Jalaru Torres draws inspiration from the unique landscapes and people of the Kimberley region. His photography poems seek to illuminate Australia’s dark history and modern-day issues that shape communities, both remote and urban.

Through Her Breath by Bronwyn Kidd and Carol Brown is an Open Program exhibition that celebrates ancestral breath, placing women, whose bodies are the source of our first breaths, as the inscriber of embodied legacies of past and present.

11:45am From Lydiard Street North, head east on Mair Street to be rewarded by A Wall of Women by Women featuring 200 Unexposed Collective female photographers on the corner of Mair Street and Grenville Street North (on the Kathmandu store wall).

Head south to Sturt Street and call into a few of the Open Program venues, such as Everybody Knows Books, Irish Murphy’s and Il Piccolo Gelato.

12:30pm  Enjoy a delicious lunch at a venue of your choice from the Open Program exhibition venues.

1:30pm Drive north to RACV Goldfields Resort at Creswick, just 15 minutes from Ballarat for a satellite exhibition featuring Erik Johansson’s work. Behind the Image uses original drawings and short documentaries to understand how Erik’s physical photography is brought to life with digital effects within his digital darkroom to create his world-renowned images.

Hidden outside, around the RACV Goldfields Resort, Within the Landscape is an exhibition that examines recent Australian photography focusing on children and adolescents within three distinct regions of Australia. Naomi Hobson shares with us her home in Remote Far North Queensland; Selina Ou, suburban Melbourne; and Lisa Sorgini the Northern Rivers of New South Wales.

Aldona Kmieć invites us to explore the boundaries of our own imaginations and to embrace the power of creativity in her new series, Winterbloom. These fluid and bright photographs were made in the depths of winter during COVID-19 as an act of creative rebellion.

A short drive to the township of Creswick is a reward steeped in village life, depending on your timing, the delightful Odessa at Leavers Hotel is perfect for refreshments and one final Open Program exhibition viewing.

Stay with a BIFB Accommodation Partner

The George Hotel 27 Lydiard Street North

Studio and Standard hotel rooms perfectly suited to both leisure and corporate travellers. Self-contained accommodation is now featured on the second storey of the property.

For bookings, go to The George Hotel

Quest Ballarat Station 11 Nolan Street

Stay at Quest Ballarat Station during the festival, use promo code FOTO2023 to save 12%. Conditions apply. For bookings, go to Quest Ballarat Station

RACV Goldfields Resort 1500 Midland Hwy, Creswick

Stay overnight at RACV Goldfields Resort during the festival, use promo code FOTO2023 to save 15%. T & C’s apply. For bookings, go to RACV Goldfields Resort 

Flair BnB Various accommodation properties across Ballarat and surrounds.

Fancy staying in a miner’s cottage or perhaps a rural farm cabin? Choose your adventure!

For bookings, go to Flair BnB