Alasdair Foster

Alasdair Foster 2015 (portrait 01) photo by Murray Fredericks (200)~



Alasdair Foster is a consultant specialising in international cultural projects and a researcher in the theory of arts policy formation. He has 20 years’ experience heading national arts institutions in Europe and Australia and over 35 years of working in the not-for-profit sector (both as a board member and as an employee).

“I can say without any reservation that Alasdair Foster is one of the most experienced and innovative developers and managers of contemporary photomedia festivals and touring exhibitions anywhere.”

Gael Newton, Senior Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Australia (2011)                   


Career Highlights

Alasdair Foster was the founding director of Fotofeis, the award-winning international biennale of photo-based art in Scotland (1991–1997) and, more recently, director of the Australian Centre for Photography (1998–2011). He began his career in the documentary film industry working for Films of Scotland, a company initiated by the legendary John Grierson, before establishing a successful photographic business (1980-1990). His educational background is in photography, natural philosophy, history and film and he has worked as an artist, curator, writer, editor, researcher, policy advisor and commercial photographer.

“Alasdair Foster’s curatorial and management skills are of the highest level, amply demonstrated in his organisation of Fotofeis, which I consider to be one of the best and most successful festivals ever presented in the world. It was unforgettable.”

Rui Prata, Director of Museu da Imagem and Encontros da Imagem Festival, Portugal (2011)


Globally Connected

Alasdair Foster was Ambassador for the Asia-Pacific PhotoForum, a founding member of the International Network of Photography Centres and co-founded the Association of International Photo-festival Directors (now the Festival of Light). He has served on the editorial panel of Black Flash magazine (Canada) and was an international advisor to Fotofo (the international photography festival in Bratislava). In 2011 he was Academic Consultant to the Pingyao International Photography Festival (the first non-Chinese advisor to China’s largest and longest running photo event).

“Alasdair Foster’s exhibitions for Pingyao International Photography Festival … have taught Chinese photographers and curators not only about the work of talented Australian photo-artists but also much about the professional processes of curation itself .”

Liu Xiaoxia, Director of the International Program, Pingyao International Photography Festival China (2011)


Policy and Professional Leadership

Alasdair Foster has held many previous positions including President of the Contemporary Art Organisations of Australia and Chair of the Conference for European Photographers. He has served on the boards of the SALVO (Scottish Arts Lobby to Central Government) and NAVA (the National Association of the Visual Arts, Australia), and on the advisory panels to the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (UK), the National Arts and Tourism Conference (Scotland) and the National Exhibition Touring Service NSW (Australia). He served as the contemporary visual art representative on NVACN (National Visual Arts and Craft Network, Australia which successfully lobbied for a significant increase in funding for the visual arts in Australia.

“Alasdair Foster’s work is informed by a rigorous intellectual framework and a global perspective which keeps him at the forefront of international developments.”

Mathew Alderson, Partner – Asia Pacific, Harris Moure pllc (attorneys), Beijing; Co-Chair of the Media and Entertainment Forum of the American Chamber of Commerce in China (2012)

As author of the photography section of A Charter for the Arts, a policy paper commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council, he helped shape visual arts policy for Scotland in the 1990s. Later he managed the Scottish bid for Arts 2000, UK Year of Photography and the Electronic Image. Under his leadership, Fotofeis festival won the Scottish Arts and Tourism Award.

“Alasdair Foster has this unique ability of understanding what is important. He is a visionary who does more than simply engage the audience, he engages the future…”

Beate Cegielska, Director of Galleri Image, Denmark (2012)


International Curator

Alasdair Foster has organised several hundred exhibitions including major presentations in The National Gallery of Thailand, Bangkok; Chobi Mela festival (Bangladesh); Brighton Festival (England’s largest arts festival), Samstag Museum, Adelaide (Australia); Photographers’ Gallery, London (England); Fotofestival Naarden (Netherlands); Photoquai, Paris (France); Pingyao International Photography Festival (China); Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka (Bangladesh); Museum of Photography, Seoul (Republic of Korea); Aberdeen Art Gallery (Scotland); Singapore Art Museum and The Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei (Taiwan).

“Alasdair Foster brought to the project intelligence, diligence, insightfulness and flair. His communication and organisational skills are exemplary. I cannot speak highly enough of this man and his abilities.”

Paul Greenaway OAM*, Commissioner for ARCO Australia 2002, Spain (2011)
* Medal of the Order of Australia


Writer and Editor

Alasdair Foster has contributed to a number of books including Behold the Man: the male nude in photography (Stills 1988); Addressing the Forbidden (Stills 1992), Photographica Australis (ACP, 2002); BLINK (Phaidon 2002); Ray Cook – Diary of a Fortunate Man (QCP 2007), Erwin Olaf (Aperture 2008), Edward Burtynsky – Minescapes (WAM 2009), Imagining the Everyday [China] (ACP 2010), Polixeni Papapetrou: Tales of Elsewhere (ACP 2011) and Ballarat International Foto Biennale catalogue (2011).

He has written for newspapers, magazines, journals and catalogues in many parts of the world.

Alasdair Foster was managing editor of Photofile, Australia’s leading photomedia art magazine (1998-2008) and editor of Photofile in 2003 and 2006-07. He is currently the author and publisher of Talking Pictures: interviews with photographers around the world.

“As an editor, Alasdair Foster is a real inspiration to work with”

Robert Cook, writer and curator (2011)


Academic Researcher

Alasdair Foster holds a Doctor of Philosophy in art policy formation. He was Leverhulme Visiting Professor at The University of Dundee, UK, in 2018, and Professor of Culture in Community Wellbeing at the University of Queensland from 2019 to 2022, and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Art of RMIT University, Melbourne, from 2016 to 2022.

“Alasdair Foster is one of our most outstanding researchers in the doctoral program at Monash University”

Associate Professor Robert Nelson, Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Learning and Teaching, Monash University (2011)


  • The majority of the texts on this site are by Alasdair Foster and represent his opinions. However, in order to facilitate a useful diversity of views, some texts have been invited from artists and colleagues around the world, while others appear as independent comments. These opinions and comments are not necessarily those of Alasdair Foster or Cultural Development Consulting (CDC). All data and information on this site is provided on an as-is basis. While every effort is made to be as thorough as possible, neither Alasdair Foster nor CDC make representations as to accuracy, completeness, currency, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.