Photography festival launched in city

Format15Derby is once again the international focus for photography as one of the UK’s leading contemporary festivals FORMAT gets underway.

The month long festival, celebrating its tenth anniversary, has Evidence as its theme and will reflect on the expansion of photography into an interpretative as well as recording medium.

There is a diverse range of topics being explored at QUAD and across the city, including war stories, fairy tales, crime scenes, landscapes, street photography and performance projects.

There are exhibitions from leading photographers, talks, workshops, special events and a chance for everyone to get involved and submit their own images.

Louise Clements, artistic director of QUAD and FORMAT, and the woman hailed as being the driver behind the festival, was widely congratulated in all the speeches at the launch last night.

The city was buzzing with visitors from all over the world all there to see a staggering amount of photography in a wide variety of venues from QUAD and Deda to St Werburgh’s Church and Pickford’s House.

“We  had over 1,000 entries from more than 60 countries for our open call event Exposure and they were all of such a high quality it was really difficult to select the ones for the festival,” said Louise.

“The choice of the theme is always difficult but it is important to pick something that is wide enough for everyone to see a possibility in it and Evidence is perfect.

“We wanted people to challenge the interpretation of the theme and they have certainly done that,” she said.

“Photography was always considered evidential – a record – but today our lives are surrounded by images everywhere on the news and social media and in advertising. One of the questions we will be exploring is do we still trust those images or are they being used to misinterpret events? The whole festival will be full of rich and amazing stories and histories.

“We take more pictures on our mobiles in a single day now than we did in the entire 1800s. It is a staggering thought.”

People are being encouraged to take pictures with their mobiles and to download them on to a FORMAT app and contribute to the interactive projects.

“There is a fun side to the festival and we want everyone to feel welcome and excited about what is going on. It might be attracting a global audience but we haven’t forgotten it is for Derbyshire as well.”

The Past Lives project will be staging a Picture the Past event on April 4 to which people will be invited to take their old cine films and enjoy vintage teas and WW Winters will be opening up their amazing studios and talking about their Photographic Archive Project on five afternoons, March 14, 21,25, 31 and April 9, at noon and 2pm..

Debbie Adele Cooper, who is an artist-in-residence at the Midland Road Studios working with their vast collection of glass plates is also staging her own exhibition called Derby Anon. She has matched new photographic portraits of Derby people to unnamed portraits from the past. Her work including a very interesting greenhouse can be seen at St Werburgh’s Church.

In Banks Mill there is an exhibition of work by photography graduates from the University of Derby.

The main FORMAT exhibition, being held at QUAD, is co-curated by Louise and Lars Willumeit and is entitled Beyond Evidence: An incomplete narratology of photographic truths.

It takes its cue from the legendary 1977 work Evidence by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel and explores the relationship between image and knowledge.

It features a wide range of work, including photography by Natasha Caruana, Edmund Clark, Mishka Henner and Cristina De Middel.

Photographers chosen as part of the Exposure exhibitions include notable artists Simon Norfolk, Chris Shaw, Sarah Pickering, Seán Hillen and Lisa Barnard alongside exciting projects from a new generation of talented photographers, curators and collectives including Derbyshire based Nick Sargeant.

There is a very comprehensive brochure available to pick up at QUAD or online so for more details go to