FORMAT23 ‘What Photography Can Be’ 17 March – 9 April 2023


20 February 2023

FORMAT23 ‘What Photography Can Be’ 17 March – 9 April 2023

FORMAT International Photography Festival – 27 exhibitions over 15 venues taking place across Derby over 30 days

FORMAT International Photography Festival returns to Derby from 17 March to 9 April 2023 for the very best photography and lens-based media being produced today.

The biennale festival incorporates QUAD, University of Derby, Museum of Making, Déda, Dubrek, Artcore, City Lab, The Smallprint Company, Derbion shopping centre, Banks Mill, Derby Cathedral and an outdoor exhibition in Derby’s high streets.  The festival also includes satellite venues such as The Wireworks Project in Ambergate and LCB Depot in Leicester. The festival was established by QUAD in 2004 and is the UK’s leading festival of photography and related media, organised by QUAD and CCIRC, (Creative and Cultural Industries Research Centre) of the University of Derby.

Exhibitions include:

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Volta Yang Voguing Shanghai, Shanghai Baby Ballroom

QUAD Gallery

Radical Souls 17 March to 2 July 2023

Artists: Cecilia Bengolia (Argentina), Dele Adeyemo (UK), Luciana Demichelis (Argentina) and Volta Yang (China) whose work traverses dance genres and styles, fed through emotion, culture, sounds and in some cases, rebellion.

QUAD’s Extra Gallery Spaces

17 March to 2 July 2023

FORMAT23 OPEN Call presents the work of selected international photographers and artists.

Young FORMAT; including work by students from: Pear Tree Juniors, Derby Moore Academy, Horizons 6th Form, Burton and South Derbyshire Colleges; QUAD Young Advocates, QUAD Young Creatives and CYAN CITY.

Gestures of Resistance part of FORMAT’s UK/China residency in partnership with 501 Xu Artspace in China.

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Oliver Frank Chanarin, with Pam and Mike, 10 x 8 inches, c-type print, unique artist proof

Museum of Making

Oliver Frank Chanarin, A Perfect Sentence 17 March – 3 September 2023

Oliver Frank Chanarin’s first solo exhibition of new work which explores the drive for attention, the complexity of being seen and the anxiety of being overlooked, in the shifting terrain of documentary photography. Commissioned and produced by Forma in collaboration with eight UK organisations throughout 2022, different iterations of the project comprises over a thousand negatives, 300 analogue prints, accompanied by written accounts that offer reflections on the mercurial nature of identity in Britain.


We Danced in Derby 17 March – 9 April 2023

Delving into the social history of Derby city in the 1960s and ‘70s, through the prism of ballrooms, discos and clubs, this nostalgic exhibition celebrates how the 1960s changed the way people danced, foregrounding the music that inspired this transformation. Created in collaboration with Roger Smith, a local writer and heritage researcher, it features images of the popular Derby social venues of the time, alongside visual, written and oral history of memories. 

FORMAT23 OPEN Call presents the work of selected international photographers and artists.

QUAD, City Lab, Déda & University of Derby, Markeaton Street

FORMAT23 OPEN Call 17 March – 9 April 2023

FORMAT23 OPEN Call presents the work of selected international photographers and artists. The FORMAT23 OPEN Call received 979 submissions and nearly 15,000 images from 72 countries, the 26 projects include themes such as how environmental and climate changes are affecting communities across the world; the realities of how our food production might look in our not so distance future, examinations of new belief-systems inspired by folk law, secret military programs and the appropriation of indigenous spiritual practices.

Selected OPEN Call Artists: Antone Dolezal (US); Too Many Pictures (France); Terje Abusdal (Norway); Alex Davenport (UK); Crystal Bennes (UK); Sheung Yiu (Hong Kong/Finland); Joanna Vestey (UK); William Lakin (UK); Md Fazla Rabbi Fatiq (Bangladesh); Wai Hang Siu (Hong Kong/UK); M’hammed Kilito (Morocco); exsample (Germany); An Su (China/UK); Joshua Phillips & Benjamin McDonnell (UK); Maryam Wahid (UK); The Sustainable Photobook Publishing (SPP) network (UK); Ngadi Smart (Sierra Leone); Curator: Peggy Sue Amison (Germany) with Artists: Adrian L Burrell (US), Rana Young (US), Tanya Habjouqa (Jordan/US), Matthew Thorn (Australia), Derik Lynch (Australia), Pádraig Spillane (Ireland), Aideen Barry (Ireland), Arko Datto (India) and Katrin Koenning (Germany/Australia); Theo Ellison (UK); Philippe Braquenier & David De Beyter (Belgium); Claudia Amatruda (Italy); Phillipa Klaiber & Michael Swann (UK); Yzza Slaoui (Morocco); Craig Ames (UK); Pratya Jankong & Olga Fedorova (US); Curator: Helen Starr (UK) with Artist: Kinnari Saraiya (UK).

Derby Cathedral

Louise Beer, Gathering Light 17 March – 21 May 2023

Derby Cathedral and QUAD/FORMAT co-commission for site-specific installation work taking inspiration from the Christian observance and celebrations of Lent; considering themes of spirituality, sacrifice, release, isolation, rising/ rebirth, temptation, confession, forgiveness, and community.

Outdoor exhibition – Various locations in Derby

#PicturingDerby – Art in the Streets 17 March – 10 April 2023

FORMAT/QUAD in partnership with Historic England and Photoworks. Picturing High Streets is a three-year project to create a contemporary picture of England’s high streets. The project has two parts: a socially engaged photographer in residence programme and a public call-out to create an unofficial photographic archive of the English high street via Instagram. A national outdoor exhibition showcasing work submitted by the public will go on display throughout England from Spring 2024. FORMAT has selected submissions to feature on an outdoor exhibition displayed in multiple sites around Derby City Centre. Participants have responded to the theme #PicturingDerby by sending us the photos that celebrate Derby and Derbyshire in all its forms.

University of Derby, Banks Mill

FORMAT23: FORMAT Graduates Award, 17 March – 9 April 2023

Artists Alisha Bourne, Erin Swinford-Howe, Georgia Gadsby and Thomas Craven, from BA (Hons) Photography Graduating Class of 2022, University of Derby have been selected for a FORMAT Graduate Award.

Alisha Bourne, Eulogy for the Potter is an exploration of the rise and fall of the pottery industry in Stoke on Trent.

Erin Swinford-Howe, Spatial Matters Spatial Matters is a chronological and sequential order of images that represents time continuum and spatial nothingness.

Georgia Gadsby Salt Curing, the body of artwork reflects upon a time of health trauma, representing the emotions experienced; such as panic, anxiety, depression, and the process of my own recovery.

Thomas Craven, Living Room domestic photographs are a snapshot of a time that once was, used to reminisce on times with family.

University Of Derby, Markeaton Street Campus

How Love Lives In Two Places,17 March – 9 April 2023

Multi trans-disciplinary exhibition describes the experimental boundaries of both photography and place. A visual dialogue between artists, including students and faculty of the University of Derby School of Arts together with Nevada State College Office for the Arts, USA.

Artists: Aaron Bien, Abbie Sunter, Abel Montes de Oca, Adriana Chavez, Alasdair Openshaw, Alexandra Totterdell, Amy Morgan, Angela M. Brommel, Anna Hoess, Archie Terrington, Char Harmer, Danielle Bouchon, Elisha Mae Gascoigne, Ell Hammond, Emily Lawrence, Erick Masih, Erin Swinford-Howe, Fiona Middleton, James Stanford, Jerome B. Romero, Jesse Hudson, Gabrielle Distin, Gemma Marmalade, Glenda Perez-Islas, Haash Ahmad, Keeva Lough, Lance L. Smith, Liam White, Noah Mcclelland, Paige Tighe, Phil Searle, Robbie Liddle, Myron Hensel, Tanya Mansell, Veronica Gutierrez and Violet Burgess.

Philip M Harris, UKraine Lives,17 March – 9 April 2023

At the time of the opening of FORMAT23 the Russian invasion of Ukraine will have raged for 385 days. This project examines the personal impact on some of the people who fled their homeland for the United Kingdom.

We Are Nothing Without Stories, 17 March – 9 Apr 2023

Presenting a selection of the visual research being undertaken by staff in the School of Arts at the University of Derby. The scope is broad, with highly diverse and innovative applications of photographic media, whilst each body of work presents a refined and intense creative focus on vital themes within the wider world.

Artists: Adrian Andrei, Philip Ranjit Basi, Marc Bosward, Huw Davies, Philip M Harris, Susan Hogan    Clive Holmwood, Rebecca Howard, Daithi McMahon, Casey Orr, Stuart Poynton, Carl Robinson, Stephanie Rushton and Victoria Sharples.   

FORMAT23 – Festival Opening Weekend events 16 – 19 March 2023

Thursday 16 March – Launch night events from 6pm exhibition openings in venues across Derby, QUAD will be hosting exhibitions launch and afterparty.

Thursday 16 – Sunday 19 MarchFORMAT Photobook Market taking place in Derby Museums, on the Wardwick. Three-day event will bring together publishers, bookshops, artists and photographers from across the globe. In addition, events include FORMAT Photobook Exhibition, workshops, activities, artist talks about photobooks and afterparty.

Friday 17 March – FORMAT23 Conference taking place at QUAD and organised by University of Derby. An all-day event, inspired by the thesis: ‘What Photography Can Be’ featuring artists and curators exhibiting as part of the festival. Followed by FORMAT23 exhibition launches at the University of Derby, Markeaton Street Campus and afterparty at Derby’s Dubrek.

Saturday 18 March at The Chocolate Factory, Derby & 31 March (Online) – FORMAT23 Portfolio Review the UK’s largest gathering of experts with over 40 international photography professionals offering help and advice to photographers in person and online.

Sunday 19 March – Bus tour trip to The Wireworks Project, for an opportunity to see works by artist Thomas Wynne. A yoga and wellbeing walk around Shining Cliff woods, including art installations, followed by food and in-conversation event by Ivan Smith, Wireworks co-director.

FORMAT is organised by QUAD and the University of Derby and is supported by Arts Council England, Derby City Council and multiple partners from the UK and abroad. FORMAT23 Press Launches generously supported by Marketing Derby. For more information please see:


Notes to Editors

FORMAT International Photography Festival was established in 2004 at QUAD and is the UK’s leading international contemporary festival of photography and related media. It organises a year-round programme of international commissions, open calls, residencies, conferences and collaborations in the UK and internationally and welcomes over 100,000 visitors from all over the world to its biennale.

Twitter @formatfestival  Instagram @formatfestival Facebook

The festival and off year programmes celebrate the wealth of contemporary photographic practice and feature everything from major conceptual works, participative projects, documentary photography, mobile phone imagery to the archive and all that falls between. We are concerned with what is happening now in the scene and beyond, whilst sharing and contributing to it. FORMAT is the place to engage with an incredible range of work from new and emerging photographers alongside that of some of the best-known practitioners in the world. FORMAT is focused on developing opportunities for audiences to see, debate, develop, contribute and participate in the best of what photography is and can be, through our comprehensive professional practice programmes and a yearly international photography portfolio review. FORMAT is organised by QUAD and the University of Derby and is supported by Arts Council England, Derby City Council and multiple partners from the UK and abroad.

QUAD is an international centre for engagement in contemporary art and film, based in Derby. Its year-round programme focuses on major exhibitions, professional practice for artists, mass participation, commissions, independent film and the creative use of emergent digital technologies. QUAD is a charity focused on intercultural dialogue through supporting diverse audiences to engage, develop skills and contribute to contemporary culture. Year-round, it’s learning, education and participation programmes involve people and communities locally and worldwide in innovative arts programmes. QUAD provides creative participatory and learning opportunities for people in a safe and welcoming environment for visitors and participants. We collaborate and work in partnership with others to deliver activities that make a positive impact on their lives.

The University of Derby is a modern university with a modern outlook. Everything we do is driven by delivering excellence and opportunities for our students, our staff and our region. They University were one of the first UK universities to launch a photography degree and boast over half a century of heritage in photographic education and proudly support FORMAT.

Déda is a Centre for Dance, Movement and Creativity based in the heart of the cathedral quarter in Derby, connecting locally, nationally and internationally. Déda has 3 studios, a 124-seat theatre and produces Derby Festé – an annual international outdoor street arts festival. We are a band 2 Arts Council England National Portfolio organisation and a registered charity (1053633). We attract 54,000 visitors to our building each year.

Forma has partnered with nine UK institutions to commission and produce Oliver Frank Chanarin’s new work: Artes Mundi, Cardiff; Guildhall Art Gallery, London; KARST, Plymouth; Norfolk Museum Services, through Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery and Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth; Original Projects, Great Yarmouth; QUAD/FORMAT and Derby Museums, Derby; Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton. The production is made possible through generous funding from Arts Council England, the Art Fund and a National Project Grant awarded by the Arts Council England. Kick The Dust and City of London Corporation have supported the productions in Great Yarmouth and London respectively. Forma is a contemporary art organisation, charity and National Portfolio Organisation, supported by the Arts Council England, that champions ideas and artists who address the social and political questions of our times. Through a discursive process, we nurture artists’ creative vision and grow their ambition in order to develop collaborative projects that are career-defining and lead to new major opportunities around the world. We pride ourselves in being an organisation that artists want to work with. We offer commissioning, fundraising and production expertise, and as a non-gallery-based organisation we present projects in partnership with cultural institutions across the UK and internationally.| @formaartsmedia

The Museum of Making in the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site is a contemporary space telling Derby’s 300-year history of making to inspire new creativity. Designed and made by the people and industries of Derby with exhibits, workshops, activities and events, there’s something here for everyone including a new café, shop and venue hire space. Derby Silk Mill is widely regarded as the site of the world’s first modern factory, built in the valley that changed the world. Industry brought prosperity to some and poverty and wage slavery to others. Yet it shaped Derby as a city of making and creativity. Industrial society led to the creation of civic institutions and stimulated a civil society in which people campaigned for social and political rights.

Derby Cathedral is a lively place of worship with regular services, in person and live-streamed, involving its flourishing Cathedral Choir. A place of musical and cultural excellence, it frequently hosts concerts and events. It is also one of the oldest buildings in Derby City Centre and as a Grade 1 listed building, it is of high historical significance. As a Church of England Cathedral, it is a sacred place and sign of unity for Christians of many traditions and a meeting place of faiths. Derby Cathedral aims to develop strong relationships with all its stakeholders to become a place for inspirational music and worship, learning, heritage stories, arts and culture.

Historic England are the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all. @HistoricEngland   

Photoworks an international platform for artists and audiences, Photoworks champions photography for everyone.

Picturing High Streets commission is produced in partnership with GRAIN Projects, Impressions Gallery, Open Eye Gallery, PARC (Photography and the Archive Research Centre), Photofusion, QUAD/FORMAT, Redeye, ReFramed and The Photographers’ Gallery.  

Six artists, selected via open call, are undertaking residencies at six high street locations across England.  Tim Mills (Coventry), Natalie Willatt (Stoke), Suzanne St Clare (Chester), Tony Mallon (Prescot), Rehan Jamil (Tower Hamlets) and Khatun (Leicester) are all using a socially-engaged approach, working alongside local communities to create a contemporary portrait of England’s high streets between now and 2024. A number of the images they produce will become part of the Historic England Archive and feature in the outdoor exhibition.  

Each of the six photographers will also benefit from mentoring support delivered by Impressions Gallery, PARC (Photography and the Archive Research Centre), Redeye The Photography Network, ReFramed and The Photographers’ Gallery. 

FORMAT provides an unrivalled platform for leading photographers from around the world to gather, show and discuss their work.” – Brian Griffin, FORMAT Patron

QUAD is a registered charity.