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First show announced for new Centre for Photography

The first exhibition at the new National Centre for Photography in Ballarat will feature ‘sculptural interventions’ from Melbourne-based ‘interdisciplinary artist’ Robbie Rowlands, commissioned by the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

‘If This Light Can Hold’ (detail), by Robbie Rowlands. Gallery floor cut and window reveal, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 2015. Courtesy of artist and Blackartprojects. (Source:

Robbie Rowlands is best known for his sculptural work with old buildings prior to their demolition, through to utilitarian objects such as street poles. The connection with photography, as explained by the BIFB artistic director, Fiona Sweet, is that his sculptures are by their nature ephemeral, as most of the buildings and objects from which they are made are soon to be demolished or otherwise junked. Consequently, the photographic record is the means by which most people experience his work.

He has ‘a body of work that has explored sites such as a 1950’s bus depot, a 1900s wooden Baptist church in Dandenong, Australia, through to abandoned buildings in Detroit, USA,’ according to his biography.

The BIFB commission, accompanied by a three-month artist-in-residency, is focussed on the renovation of the National Centre for Photography building, a ‘sculptural site intervention intricately woven from the building’s internal walls and remnant furnishings,’ the BIFB website explains.

‘Built in 1864 to the design of architect Leonard Terry, the historically significant former Union Bank will now transition into its new life as the National Centre For Photography, Australia’s only regional gallery dedicated exclusively to photography.’

Fiona Sweet confirmed the inaugural exhibition at the Centre for Photography would primarily feature objects rather than photographs, but that a full photographic record of the project would form part of the Biennale, which starts in August.

The exhibition will be open to the public from Feb 24 – March 10, from Wednesday to Sunday.

Following the Robbie Rowlands exhibition, the National Centre for Photography will feature an exhibition of photographs of plant and tree seeds by US photographer, Dornith Doherty. This will be co-sponsored by, ‘a broad alliance of arts organisations, practitioners, administrators, patrons and academics from across the spectrum of the arts sector’ focussed on issues around climate change.

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One Comment

  1. Jeff Moorfoot Jeff Moorfoot February 4, 2019

    Interesting that the first commission for the new National Centre for Photography is not a photographer!

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