Ballarat Photographer and artist Aldona Kmiec was born in 1977 in Poland and migrated to Australia in 2009. Inspired by her childhood spent on a dairy farm in communist-era Poland, her photography and installation art explores memory and identity. She lives and works between Ballarat, Melbourne & Gippsland.

‘I think of my photographs as pages of an unfinished book that is yet to find its title: they appear, stack up, populate my personal space quickly and often reveal themselves in dreams. They are living organisms, against all odds – they communicate and connect with other photographs and take on their own path. It’s almost as if I’m not there to facilitate it at all.”

Family House in Biezen Polska Far better to grasp the Universe as it is than to persist in delusion however satisfying & reassuring


I grew up in a small village in Poland during the fall of communism and the start of democracy. Our family nearly lost everything during WWII.

When I was a kid, nobody had much money to go out. Our social life happened at a house or while working, or on a street outside your home. No internet or phones, just close-knit community. I had a second-hand piano accordion. Together with my childhood friend, I would play to anyone who was passing by.

As a child I made a promise to myself to learn foreign languages, and to one day leave my village to explore the world. It was a ridiculous dream to have at the time, but it was my dream. The world I grew up in was the world where men played cards, women cooked food and children listened to stories about the war, memories veiled in a thick smoke of cigarettes. I wish I had a camera back then, when I hid behind the bed, my eyes were wide open from fear and excitement of stories being told, stories of war relived once more.

Balancing Act Polish pregnant woman portrait Aldona Kmiec

Art Residencies

2018 BOAA Biennale of Australian Art | Ballarat Mining Exchange
2013 Under the Floorboards | Uniting Care Ballarat


2018 Finalist | Cambridge Studio Gallery Portrait Prize
2018 Finalist | Art Lovers Australia Prize
2018 Finalist | Contemporary Art Awards
2017 Finalist | Maggie Diaz Photography Prize for Women
2017 Winner 3rd Prize | Airbnb, Fear of Flying story
2016 Finalist | Eureka Art Prize
2015 Finalist | The Maggie Diaz Photography Prize
2014 Winner | Eureka Art Prize
2014 Finalist | Bowness Photography Prize MGA Gallery Melbourne
2014 Finalist | Head On Photo Festival Portrait Category Sydney
2014 One year Leadership Scholarship | Leadership Ballarat Western Region
2013 Winner CCP Leica Salon Most Humorous Image Award | Centre of Contemporary Photography Melbourne

2013 Winner Eureka Art Prize | Ballarat Arts Foundation 
2013 We R You – Paste-ups Project Facilitator
2012 Honourable Mention Fine Art Black & White Spider Awards
2012 Published Finalist ‘My migration. Moja Emigracja’ book ISBN

2011 Visual Arts Grant – Photography BAF Ballarat Arts Foundation
2008 Winner End of Year Best Photo Competition, AOP Gallery London UK

Solo Exhibitions

2017 In the process of Healing | Ballarat International Foto Biennale
2015 Dreamscapes | Ballarat International Foto Biennale 
2013 Australia, a New Chapter | Ballarat International Foto Biennale 
2013 My Australia | Backspace Gallery Ballarat
2011 Transient | Ballarat Intl Foto Biennale | Craig’s Royal Hotel Ballarat

Group Exhibitions  

2022 PolArt Festival Sydney (planned)
2021 Contemporary Photography Melbourne | CCP Salon
2020 Victorian Artists Society | Melbourne
2020 Centre for Contemporary Photography Melbourne | Members Gallery
2019 Colours of World Cultures | Backspace Gallery Ballarat
2019 Beyond 50% | Backspace Gallery Ballarat
2018 Pol-Art Festival QCA Galleries South Bank | Brisbane, QLD
2018 Ballarat Arts Foundation Eureka Art Award | Post Office Gallery  
2018 Mixed Blessings | Mercure Hotel & Convention Centre, Ballarat
2018 Open studio ArtWalk | Soldiers Hill Artist Collective Ballarat  
2018 Portrait Prize | Cambridge Studio Gallery, Collingwood VIC
2017 Our Place – Soldiers Hill Artist Collective | Backspace Gallery Ballarat
2017 Maggie Diaz Projects: Photography Prize | Brightspace Gallery St Kilda

2017 Eureka Art Award Finalists | Ballarat Art Gallery window
2016 Eureka Art Award Finalists | Post Office Gallery Ballarat
2016 Impressions Polish Arts Foundation | Victorian Artists Society Gallery Melbourne
2016 Linden Postcard Show | Linden New Art Gallery Melbourne
2016 Self Portraits to Selfies | The Lost Ones Gallery Ballarat
2015 PolArt Festival | Steps Gallery, Melbourne
2015 Maggie Diaz Projects: Photography Prize | Brightspace Gallery St Kilda

2014 Eureka Art Prize Finalists | Post Office Gallery Ballarat
2014 Bowness Photography Prize Finalists | MGA Gallery Melbourne
2014 Head On Finalists | Paddington Reservoir Gallery Sydney
2013 Under the Floorboards | Art Gallery Ballarat

2012 POL-ART Festival | Perth
2011 Lost in Translation – Collaboration with painter Casey Tosh 
2011 Association of Photographers – AOP Open Awards Finalists | Truman Brewery London


State Library of Victoria, Ballarat Arts Foundation, Museum of Democracy + private collections


2018 Gippsland Community Leadership Program
2014 Ballarat Community Leadership Program
2012-2014 Multicultural Ambassador of Ballarat
2011 Small Business Management | Ballarat
2008 Diploma in Photography | London Metropolitan University

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