Ballarat International Foto Biennale Photography Exhibitions Review, Part 2

In this article series I offer my review of some of the exhibitions. As all such reviews are, these are my personal response to the exhibitions I saw. I did not set out to see all the exhibitions. Rather I went through the exhibition program and chose ones in Ballarat and Creswick that appealed to me. Along the way I stumbled across some other exhibitions that either were not in the program or that I hadn’t intended to see.

Part 2 looks at some more Ballarat exhibitions.

Gallery B1

Lauren Simonutti’s exhibition, “8 rooms, 7 mirrors, 6 clocks, 2 minds and 199 panes of glass” is quite simply stunning. Produced while housebound due to mental illness, the body of work shows just what can be done in a limited location. Shot on large format and manipulated only in camera and the darkroom, the exhibited images are contact prints from negatives up to 8×10, beautifully printed. The resulting work is surreal yet realistic, and can be quite disturbing as they seem to show a glimpse into a tortured mind.

Samantha Everton’s Utopia series provide a wonderful contrast to the above works, yet quite complementary. I don’t know if the juxtaposition was accidental but deliberate, but it works. Everton’s images feature strong colour and are shot underwater, featuring a female either in full or part, wearing either blue or red. The surface of the water acts as a consistent barrier in most of the images, creating a somewhat enclosed feel. It is luscious work, with a great contrast between the strong colour of the woman’s dress (looks like a slip) and the more subdued colour of the water. The water element provides a clear reference to the emotional focus of the work. This is a great body of work and well worth studying.

All the above works were part of the BIFB core program. Those that follow are part of the fringe program, exhibitions associated with the BIFB but not selected by it.

Radmac Gallery

This rather unfortunate choice of venue is not open when most people are likely to have been visiting the galleries. It was only open till 12 on Saturday and not at all on Sunday. It is a gallery wall in a large art shop. So I missed it my first visit and had to return to Ballarat a second time just to catch that venue.

Don Brice’s An Innocent in a Broken World exhibition is a great collection of shots that were taken with a Diana plastic camera. The BW images are nostalgic and contain loads of energy. Some are truly outstanding. It was a very impressive exhibition.

Gordon Monro’s Ab Initio is a collection of simulated photographs of vibration patterns on a drum created using custom written software. The results are circular abstract images of quite strong effect.

Craig Holloway exhibited digital colour prints of Ballarat and district locations. There were a number of quite strong images.

Julie Porter’s Light Suite is a collection of BW photographs of light patterns on a bedroom wall. The result is a surprisingly compelling abstract collection of great subtlety. She also exhibited two colour images seemingly shot through the translucent plastic that surrounds and protects plants in land reclamation projects. These were also great images, and her work is well worth a look.

Eureka Visitor Centre

Tim Burder’s large c-prints of a series called Desert Works are quite striking. Most were panoramic in scope. They are strong images that look heavily manipulated. Some have an infrared look. They varied from strong, saturated colour to very subtle colour. All were impressive.

Gallery on Sturt

Clive McWaters’ Untitled series is a mixed exhibition of landscapes and portraits. Some are strongly coloured, others more subtle. He has some excellent work here and it is well worth a look.

Steph Tout’s Sum of these holes: New pinhole works is a great exhibition of interesting pinhole photography. The images comprise panorama images with a difference created with a camera that contains six pinholes allowing different parts of the film to be exposed at different times and blend with existing images. Great work.

The Ansonia on Lydiard

Carolyn Buckley’s Toxic: East Meets West is a highly personal working through of experience through these composite images. I found the resulting images varied greatly in impact on me, but some images were truly great. I responded less well to the ones involving many repetitions of the underlying pattern.

Gillian Fletcher’s Streets of Gold series of night images of Ballarat varied greatly, for me, in their effectiveness, which was not helped by their being exhibited in an atrium subject to strong light that overwhelmed the often dark imagery.

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