BIFB’s 2023 Martin Kantor Prize winners

Ballarat International Foto Biennale has announced Melbourne-based photographer Matthew Thorne as the 2023 Martin Kantor Prize winner for his portrait Warren Ellis in his garden in Paris (Paris, 2022), 2022.

Describing his photograph, Thorne detailed the moment he captured the renowned musician in his home:

“. . . I took two photos as Warren and I spoke in his backyard. One of him, and one of the tree hanging over his garden and studio. I felt Warren was then like Monet, or as close as an Australian frontiersman can hope to come without losing their sense of self.”

Matthew Thorne, Warren Ellis in his garden in Paris (Paris, 2022), 2022, C-type print. Courtesy the artist

The Martin Kantor Prize is acquisitive, with the first prize of $15,000 awarded to the most exceptional portrait. This year’s judges – Helen Ennis, curator and author; Magda Keaney, Curator at the National Portrait Gallery; and Russell Storrer, Head Curator for International Art at the National Gallery of Australia – commented on the 2023 winning work:

“Matthew Thorne’s portrait of musician Warren Ellis is the result of an ongoing productive creative relationship, and the ease between photographer and sitter is evident. The portrait has rich historical resonances and in its apparent simplicity challenges what we might expect of contemporary portraiture. Thorne demonstrates his highly resolved, creative and technical choices for a compelling, lingering effect.”

Tobias Titz, Mary Dhapalany, 2016. Featuring weaver and actress Mary Dhapalany

An additional prize, the People’s Choice Award, went to Melbourne photographer Tobias Titz and his portrait of Mary Dhapalany, a master weaver and actress from Ramingining, Arnhem Land, who starred in the legendary film Ten Canoes, 2006, the first feature film entirely in Australian Aboriginal languages.

The 2023 Martin Kantor Prize exhibition is on display at the Ballarat Town Hall as part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale until 22 October.

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