Global artists and photographers to attend FORMAT23 Conference

1 March 2023

Award-winning artist and photographer Oliver Frank Chanarin and well-known American artist, photographer and book publisher James Stanford will be among the inspiring speakers at this year’s FORMAT23 Conference in Derby on Friday 17 March.

The conference, open to all, will explore the role of photography in today’s challenging world. It will be held at QUAD, an arts centre in the heart of the city.

Organised by Dr Philip Harris and Dr Gemma Marmalade from the University of Derby’s School of Arts, the conference adopts the Festival’s theme, What Photography Can Be. Addressing the shift in people’s perspectives since Covid-19 lockdowns, it will examine the possibilities of photography’s role during a time of challenging conditions, relationships and identities – for nations as well as individuals.

Oliver Frank Chanarin, who will deliver one of the keynote speeches, is one half of the duo Broomberg & Chanarin, whose 23-year partnership created a wealth of artworks held in prestigious locations such as the Pompidou in Paris, and the Tate Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Other speakers include internationally-acclaimed American artist James Stanford, a leading figure in the development of the historical Las Vegas art community.

The conference runs from 9am to 5.30pm at QUAD, Derby. Delegates will then be taken to the University’s Markeaton Street Gallery for the launch of five FORMAT exhibitions, performances and speeches from 6-8pm. The Gallery is a new public exhibition space which will be officially opened at this event. Among the exhibitions is one created by University of Derby students and their counterparts at Nevada State College Office for the Arts during a recent visit there

A person with a microphone addresses a conference
Dr Gemma Marmalade is one of the conference organisers. Photo: Chris Seddon

The conference is one of the first events taking place during the FORMAT international photography festival, which runs from 17 March to 9 April at venues across the city. Organised by QUAD and the University, it is supported by Arts Council England, Derby City Council and multiple partners from the UK and abroad.

Professor Alex Molasiotis, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities and Education at the University of Derby, who will open the conference, said:

“The University is delighted to be working with our partners to bring the FORMAT international photography festival to Derby. It is a pleasure to be welcoming photographers and artists from around the world to this event, which is an important part of our city’s vibrant and diverse cultural offering. The festival is also an excellent opportunity for our students to gain real-world experience; at the conference they will be supporting in a variety of roles, including stewards, co-ordinators, photographers and videographers.”

Niamh Treacy, FORMAT Curator and Coordinator at QUAD, said:

“We are excited to be hosting the FORMAT23 Conference at QUAD for the eleventh edition of the FORMAT biennale. The conference once again takes its inspiration from the overarching focus of the festival. Although this year, for the first time ever, the festival has no dedicated theme, the programme and all our activities and exhibitions are looking at What Photography Can Be. Together with our partners at the University of Derby, an incredible list of inspirational speakers and practitioners has been put together, and we are excited to see how this prodigious question can be explored and challenged.”

All on-location delegate tickets will include refreshments, lunch for all dietary needs, special offer book editions from a range of speakers, transport from QUAD to Markeaton Street Gallery for complimentary evening refreshments and the opening events for five FORMAT exhibitions. A subsidised bar, café, and food truck will also be provided for guests alongside performances, book signings and closing speeches.

Online streaming of the event is also available. 

Find out more and book your place.

Visit the FORMAT website for full details of events taking place.

For further information contact the press office at