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Our top five picks at the 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale

Visit Ballarat

24 Aug 2021

Filed underSee & Do

Wondering where to start when it comes to the perusing the works of over 260 artists across 100 venues at the 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB)?

The 2021 line-up includes world premieres, public art, projections, curator and artist talks, award announcements, foto walks, and food and drink experiences.

Open to regional Victorians from 23 September, the popular photography festival has been extended until 9 January 2022.

Here’s our pick of the bunch:

Linda McCartney, The Beatles, Abbey Road, London, 1969

Linda McCartney: Retrospective

Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North

In an Australian exclusive, the BIFB is reflecting on the career of world-renowned photographer Linda McCartney (1941-1998).

Curated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney, Linda McCartney: Retrospective features more than 200 photographs of the McCartney family, the 1960s music scene and never-before-seen prints from the McCartneys’ time in Australia between 1975 and 1993.

From the BIFB:

“The photographs capture the world as she experienced it, representing the people, places and landscape around Linda in her inimitable, spontaneous and experimental style.”

Michael Gudinski by Brian Purnell of Mushroom Creative House

Number One | Gudinski

Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute, 117-119 Sturt Street

In another first for the BIFB, Number One | Gudinski  is an exhibition of music photography featuring artists under the Mushroom Group and Frontier Touring banner. 

It celebrates the lasting legacy of Mushroom Records founder Michael Gudinski, who passed away suddenly in March this year.

From the BIFB:

“The exhibition features photographs of Elton John, Paul McCartney, Vance Joy, Courtney Barnett, Troye Sivan and many more.”

Arum Dayu, Pasar Baru (New Market), 2019 (detail)


29 Main Road

The Australian exclusives keep coming with Dibalik, which examines the voices and unspoken stories of Indonesian women which are often expressed indirectly, privately and behind closed doors.

It explores the experiences of feminism in Indonesia with its longstanding history spurred by political revolution and decolonisation.

From the BIFB:

“Featuring Arum Dayu (IDN), Erika Ernawan (IDN), Meicy Sitorus (IDN) and Tamarra (IDN), this exhibition addresses traumatic histories of comfort women during World War II, religious expression and traditions for women, the male gaze, bodily autonomy and transgender experiences.” 

Robert Fielding, ‘Alec Baker’ from series Mayatjara, 2020. Type C photograph, 60 x 60cm. Courtesy Mimili Maku Arts. © the artist.

Robert Fielding: Miil-Miilpa

Art Gallery of Ballarat, 117-119 Sturt Street

A contemporary artist of Pakistani, Afghan, Western Arrente and Yankunytjatjara descent, Robert Fielding lives in Mimili Community in the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

In two distinct bodies of new photographic work for Miil-Miilpa (sacred), Fielding continues his work connected to the significance of Elders in his community.

From Robert Fielding:

“Our people, our spirit, our languages, our song and dance are all expressions of the sacredness of this earth. This sacredness radiates through my Elders, in everything they do, everything they are, everything they create. It can be seen in all expressions of this landscape and its people. From the earth we come and to the earth we return. My work is a reminder of that sacred interconnectedness, miil-miilpa.”

24hrs in Photos, Erik Kessels Festival Images 2014 © Celine Michel

Erik Kessels: 24HRS in Photos

St Andrew’s Uniting Church, 502 Sturt Street

As its name suggests, 24HRS in Photos sees Erik Kessels confront guests with a physical representation of 350,000 printed images downloaded from a single 24-hour period.

The installation is intended to visualise the feeling of drowning in representations of others’ experiences – depicting the sheer weight of our current visual output.

From the BIFB:

24HRS in Photos responds to the ongoing and ubiquitous overload of images, exploring our evolving relationship with photography during a globalised, hypermediated era in contemporary society.”

You can view the full BIFB program at

Main image: Linda McCartney, Sgt Pepper’s Press Launch, London, 1967

The festival will be operating under significantly reduced capacity restrictions, so we highly recommended booking your festival tickets in advance and checking for updates at


The City of Ballarat acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land we live and work on, the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung People, and recognises their continuing connection to the land and waterways. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and extend this to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.