BSR News Winter 2015-16

I write to you from Australia, where my tour of the Antipodes has begun. As my visit to New Zealand and Australia continues, I will have the pleasure of reuniting with many of our friends, former award-holders and funders. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to reconnect with such a large part of the BSR community, and a joy to make new friends and contacts.
2016 promises to be another exciting year for the BSR. Our new projects and new partnerships will help ensure that we continue to provide an interdisciplinary platform for debate and collaboration across the arts and the humanities that is second to none.
The Sustainable Building Project is drawing to a close, on schedule and on budget, which means that we will be able to support this good work in a building fit-for-purpose. In particular, we were pleased to see the Library fully open to the public once again before Christmas. More updates can be found below.
And finally, looking further ahead to the start of the next academic year, applications for some of our 2016-17 awards are still open. I would ask all of you reading this to spread the word so that the next generation of talented researchers and practitioners can also benefit from what the BSR has to offer. Perhaps you know someone who you think should follow in the footsteps of Natasha Adamou, Mark Kelly and Mandy Niewöhner (our Henry Moore Foundation-BSR Fellow in Sculpture, Giles Worsley Rome Fellow and Rome Fellow in Contemporary Art, respectively)? This recent interview with alumna Carole Robb is testament to the lasting impact that the BSR can have on the careers of our award-holders.

Christopher Smith

From beehives to fragments: architecture round-up
Mark Andrew Kelly in his studio
This autumn we looked at architecture from all angles. In October we hosted the designer of the UK Pavilion at Expo Milano, Wolfgang Buttress, whose project The Hive has recently been awarded 'Best Pavilion Architecture' for 2015. Referring to himself as an artist rather than an architect, it was fascinating to hear how Buttress derived inspiration from bees and the use of soundscapes during the design process.
Our investigation of architecture's interaction with other disciplines continued with the opening of our new architecture programme Fragments in December. We were treated to a preview screening of a documentary based on Robert Bevan's book The Destruction of Memory, in which the author argued that the destruction of the built artefacts of a people or nation is a means of cultural cleansing or division in order to annihilate the identity of a people. The film goes beyond the scope of Bevan's book (published in 2006) to look at case-studies in the current war against material culture in the Middle East.  
Two of the autumn term's award-holders took architecture in even more diverse directions. Paul Mellon Centre Rome Fellow Caspar Pearson analysed the work of Richard Rogers in his lecture 'In the shadow of the dome: Richard Rogers and the urban Renaissance' at the end of his residency; and Giles Worsley Rome Fellow Mark Andrew Kelly (pictured) documented almost the entirety of Rome and beyond with his sketchbook and GoPro.

Sustainable Building Project nears completion

Five years ago we began planning for a grand project which would address some long-term maintenance issues and reduce our energy use. With the support of service engineers ARUP, architects Studio Amati, the construction company LO.MA and project manager Sharon Miura of Garofalo Miura Architetti, we drew up an ambitious plan. 

Thanks to the generous support of the Linbury Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, the Sackler Trust, the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, along with private individuals, fully half of the project was externally funded, meeting our initial target. After an extremely busy six months, we have, effectively, drawn the project to a successful close: our roof has been insulated and made watertight; our studios have new double-glazed windows and skylights; our gallery is temperature and humidity controlled; our 1960s Library basement has been treated to reduce substantially its humidity, and the Library is now once again fully open to the public; our new boiler will now deliver heating and hot water at much greater efficiency, and is aided by solar panels. Once the heating units in the Sainsbury Lecture Theatre have been improved and the Director's Garden is restored, the project will be complete.

We are immensely grateful to everyone - including our staff ­- who has worked so hard on this project and for the patience that they and our residents have shown during a period of disruption.

Of course there are other things we would like to do - the windows and shutters need to be replaced and our Lutyens façade is in need of attention - but for now, it is time to celebrate the BSR's return to full functionality. Come and see us soon!

Getting creative with research
'Creative humanities' panel discussion in London

Given both the current focus on the value of the creative industries to the UK and the BSR's unique perspective on the issues surrounding them, it seemed timely for us to gather experts to interrogate the relationship between creativity and research. On 23 November, we convened a panel discussion at the British Academy entitled 'Creative humanities: a cultural ecosystem'.

Moderated by British Council Chair Sir Vernon Ellis (above left), the distinguished panel comprised Patrick Loughrey (Warden, Goldsmiths, University of London), Jeremy Myerson (Research Professor and Former Chair of Design, Royal College of Art), Helen Sear (Professor of Photographic Practice, Falmouth University; representative of Wales at last year's Venice Biennale; BSR FFA member) and Dame Marina Warner (Professor of English and Creative Writing, Birkbeck, University of London; BSR Council member).

Each speaker delivered a brief and very personal presentation. Sir Vernon added his insights, teased out the issues and engaged our audience, of Members and others, in one of the liveliest question-and-answer sessions in our BSR at the British Academy series.

The stuff of struggles

This autumn BSR award-holders went beneath ground and up bell-towers to investigate their historical habitat through a new series of on-site seminars, entitled The stuff of struggles: exploring conflict and resolution in the materials and monuments of Rome. Led by Assistant Director Tom True, award-holders have been studying great buildings across the city in the context of the controversies and (often) rough events that cradled them, in order to learn, through visual analysis, about the great political, theological, military and personal conflicts that define Rome, its history, its culture and its people.

Epigraphy and antiquities
Trading antiquities in early twentieth-century Europe: the John Marshall Archive 

John Marshall (1862-1928) was a classical art expert who worked as official agent for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, between 1906 and 1928. On his death, his private archive was bequeathed to the British School at Rome. 

The research team presented some case-studies of objects in John Marshall's archive as evidence of the ways in which the art trade affected the reception of classical (and post-classical) traditions in twentieth-century Europe and North America.

EAGLE Project's outreach work featured in Forma Urbis

The January issue of  Forma Urbis  was dedicated entirely to the  EAGLE Project , with a particular focus on the BSR's successful work disseminating and promoting the EAGLE Project to various schools in Rome. Following introductory epigraphy sessions, students analysed selected texts based on a specific theme, and then translated and entered these texts onto Wikimedia, after which they had the opportunity to visit the site of the inscription's original location.  Six schools have responded  positively  to this initiative, and the project will continue to expand in 2016.

Pictured above is BSR Archivist Alessandra Giovenco with Professor Mary Beard at the EAGLE 2016 international conference on digital and traditional epigraphy, which took place at Sapienza, Università di Roma at the end of January. 

New studios and New Contemporaries
December Mostra: Open Studios

The refurbishment of our gallery spaces meant that this year's December Mostra took an open studio format. The opening was an opportunity to see the work of our current Fine Arts award-holders in situ in the recently-refurbished studios.

The participating artists were: Rachel Adams (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture), L incoln Austin (Australia Council Resident), James Ferris (Derek Hill Foundation Scholar), Mark Andrew Kelly (Giles Worsley Rome Fellow),  Mandy, Gerrit, Maria Niewöhner (Rome Fellow in Contemporary Art), Catherine Story (Abbey Fellow in Painting) and Ross Taylor (Abbey Scholar in Painting).

BSR visual artists in the news

One of this year's Fine Arts award-holders Mandy Niewöhner (pictured), was selected to participate in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2015. She was one of 37 artists chosen from over 1,600 submissions. The touring exhibition recently completed its final stage at the ICA in London.

Eddie Peake (Abbey Scholar 2008-9) continues to make waves with his recent exhibition at the Barbican Last year we reported on Eddie's successful show at Galleria Lorcan O'Neill, and the BSR connection with this prestigious Roman gallery continues with Three Romans, a group exhibition with work by Visual Art Residency and Programme Curator Marco Palmieriwhich runs until 16 February.

Archaeology on the (small) screen
Imagining Portus

Last week the BSR hosted a two-day workshop on recent archaeological fieldwork that has taken place throughout the Mediterranean as part of the ERC-funded Portuslimen: Rome's Mediterranean Ports Project

In September the BSR geophysics team completed surveys at the port sites of Kane and Pitane in Turkey, on behalf of the  Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, with fascinating new data emerging about the presence of a city wall at the former site. 

Back in Italy, the international field school at Portus, hosted by the University of Southampton and the BSR, has also led to the discovery of new parts of the  Palazzo Imperiale, which were presented in late November by BSR Research Professor in Archaeology Simon Keay in his presentation 'Imagining Portus. Computer graphic reconstruction of the Palazzo Imperiale and shipyard excavated by the Portus Project 2007-14'.  A podcast of this event can now be found on our YouTube channel

Pompeii in the limelight 

Spreading the word of the BSR's diverse portfolio of research projects at Pompeii was given a boost after a request from television producer Michael Wadding, of TwoFour Productions, to feature these projects in a series of upcoming international programmes commissioned by ITV (UK), CBC (Canada), and Discovery Science (USA).

Talking to Michael Buerk, the presenter of ITV's Pompeii, Sophie Hay drew from her experience working on the Insula I.9 Project, and recounted the colourful story of Roman bar owner Sextus Pompeius Amarantus, and divulged the shadier activities of drinking, gambling and bar brawls that undoubtedly took place in his establishment.

Pompeii is addressing many aspects of both the life and death of ancient Pompeians. Stephen Kay was filmed during his excavation season this year at the Porta Nola necropolis (also featured in the latest edition of Current World Archaeology) and he revealed cremation burials in the process of discovery and showed X rays of the plaster casts of victims of the AD 79 eruption.  Pompeii is due to be aired in the UK in February.

This autumn, we were privileged to host Professor Massimo Osanna, Superintendent of Pompeii, who gave the Molly Cotton Lecture and delighted us with news of the successful conservation work of Grande Progetto Pompei.  T he lecture is available to watch here .

Image acknowledgements 
Christopher Smith: Antonio Palmieri. Mark Andrew Kelly (Giles Worsley Rome Fellow): Antonio Palmieri. Artists' studios: Giuseppe Lo Surdo. 'Creative humanities' panel:  Ewout Buckens. Award-holders at the Ara Pacis: Lincoln Austin. Nine painted vessels of various forms and one statuette: BSR Photographic Archive, John Marshall Collection. Professor Mary Beard and BSR Archivist Alessandra Giovenco. Installation shot of works by Ross Taylor (Abbey Scholar in Painting): Roberto Apa.  Mandy Niewöhner (Rome Fellow in Contemporary Art): Antonio Palmieri.  'Imagining Portus': Grant Cox.  Stephen Kay filming for Pompeii: Joy Fisher.