BSR News Spring 2016

Spring always brings with it a sense of new beginnings, and with the arrival of our new award-holders earlier this month, the BSR is once again intellectually and creatively renewed. We are delighted that this is now the second cohort to arrive into a physically renewed BSR. With the Sustainable Building Project now complete, we are able to boast a residence and library that are again fit for purpose, and that will see us through into our second century.

Christopher Smith

Supporting UK researchers

The BSR was delighted to have a trio of Leverhulme Senior Fellows staying at the BSR earlier this year. The project of Matthew Fox (University of Glasgow; left) on Roman materiality connects thinking about objects, possession and economic transactions, with story-telling and self-representation. Barbara Borg (University of Exeter; centre) builds on her earlier work, in part conducted at the BSR as Hugh Last Fellow in 2012-13, to map the social history of Rome. Her profound knowledge of Roman tombs and catacombs was in evidence in a superb lecture at the BSR. Stephen Hart (UCL; right) was mostly to be found in the archives working on his fascinating project to study the life and work of the inaugural saint of the Americas, Santa Rosa de Lima (1586-1617).

The BSR is an ideal place to support advanced research and we are keen to see more projects associated with us. If you think we can support your research please get in touch with our Director Christopher Smith.

A window onto our second century 

Regular readers of the BSR News, as well as visitors to both our website and to Rome, no doubt will have been following the progress of the Sustainable Building Project. Though we are proud of its successful completion and grateful to those whose generous contribution made it possible, the BSR is not a place to stand still, so we are already looking towards the next phase of our Second Century Campaign. 

Building on the success of the recently improved windows and skylights in our artists' studios, the next logical improvement to our residence is the refurbishment of the bedroom windows. This work will involve removing the windows, retrofitting them with double glazing and, finally, restoring and repainting the shutters - at a cost of £3,000 per unit. This will assist us immensely in providing more comfortable rooms for our award-holders and visitors, keeping our heating and cooling costs down, and reducing our general maintenance budget.

Several individuals have already expressed an interest in helping us in this way (one person has even requested a specific room!). If you would like to play your part by sponsoring a window - which will bear your name - please contact Development Director Elizabeth Rabineau in London.

Crossing boundaries in the humanities
A new vision for languages research

The BSR was delighted to host a talk by Charles Burdett (Bristol) on 'Italy, Islam and the Islamic World: representations and reflections from 9/11 to the Arab uprisings'. In a thought-provoking lecture Charles examined how military intervention and civic protest in the Islamic World have been represented by prominent Italian writers, journalists and intellectuals.

This timely and important analysis of the rhetorical framework within which Italy's relationship to the Islamic world has been articulated is part of a prestigious AHRC Beacon project entitled Transnationalizing Modern Languages, in which Charles and his team are shaping an important new vision for the discipline.

Charles's research confronts the reality of globalisation by explaining the relevance of Italian culture in global terms. His project invites specialists in modern languages to work beyond discrete fields bound by national limits, to talk about a wider cultural dialogue that considers how languages and cultures operate and interact across diverse axes of connection.

We are delighted that this 'Beacon' project is working together with the bright lights of the BSR! This collaboration shows how the support we provide for new subjects, as well as new ways of studying, is essential for the good health of the UK academy. The conference on Transnationalizing Modern Languages will be held at the BSR in October, with an accompanying exhibition in our newly refurbished gallery space.

Charles will be giving a lecture with Loredana Polezzi (Cardiff University) as part of our BSR at the British Academy lecture series on 23 November.

Gabriele Finaldi at the British Academy

His subject was the Early Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden. Perhaps not an obvious choice for an audience of Italophiles, but  this carries forward the BSR's  proud tradition of scholarship on the relationship between northern European culture and Italy; this paper was a perfect complement to the careful scholarship of, for instance, Sue Russell (BSR Assistant Director 2003-11) on Herman van Swanevelt, or Austėja Mackelaitė (Rome Scholar 2014-15) on Marten van Heemskerck - and we could list many more. 

The lecture encouraged us to look closely and to think about what we were seeing, how it reflected contemporary religious belief and in what ways it might have influenced later artists. It was a triumphant occasion and a worthy contribution to the BA's series.

Tiber triumphs and splicing time in the Campagna
William Kentridge at the BSR

In April we were honoured to have the renowned South African artist William Kentridge (pictured) speak in front of a packed lecture theatre  in conversation with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Director of the Castello di Rivoli and the GAM in Turin). Their incontro took the form of an abecedarium, in which they romped thoughtfully, and playfully, through the alphabet, dedicating two minutes to a word of their choice for every letter. The video of the lecture can be seen on our YouTube channel.

Kentridge has been based at the American Academy in Rome for a month in order to deliver his most recent work Triumphs and Laments: A Project for Rome, a 500-metre frieze running along the banks of the Tiber that depicts key moments from the history of the eternal city.

It was a pleasure to work on this project in collaboration with our friends and colleagues at the American Academy, as well as the leaders of the Tevereterno project whose aim is to revive the Tiber, in part through site-specific contemporary art.

Fine Arts alumni return to the BSR 

We have been privileged to host artist talks and studio visits over the past few months by prestigious BSR alumni, including two Abbey Rome Lectures by Andrew Stahl (Abbey Scholar 1979-81; Rome Awardee 1989-90; pictured above with current Abbey Scholar in Painting Ross Taylor) and Louisa Minkin (Abbey Awardee 2006-7). 

Shortly after her talk here in Rome, we were delighted to hear the news that Liz Rideal (Wingate Rome Scholar 2008-9) has been awarded a Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust for her project, Rome and the Campagna: Splicing Time. Liz's long-term aim is to create an interactive, layered digital map of Rome and the Campagna using maps and images from the BSR's digital collections, and to create new photographic works that will be geo-coded to interface with Google Maps. We look forward to seeing her back at the BSR over the coming months as she conducts her research.

From North America to Australasia
Pompeiana at the Getty

In February Librarian Valerie Scott and Archivist Alessandra Giovenco were invited to spend ten days in Los Angeles as Project Researchers to investigate a new digital platform, the Getty Scholars' Workspace, a tool designed to help art historians publish their digitised documents or manuscripts and associated research online. Their proposal for a pilot project to use the platform to publish one of William Gell's notebooks in our Library collection was received with enthusiasm.

The Gell notebooks have been the subject of a research project led by Faculty member Roey Sweet of the University of Leicester. Gell's Pompeiana notebooks were texts that exercised a formative influence over Victorian understanding not only of Roman Pompeii, but of domestic Roman life more broadly - Roey set out to explain their importance and fascination in her article in PBSR last year.

The enormous value of this Getty Research Institute platform has been demonstrated by the fact that the Getty Scholars' Workspace has just received a MUSE Media and Technology award from the American Alliance of Museums for their project Pietro Mellini's Inventory in Verse, 1681. A Digital Facsimile with Translation and Commentary edited by Murtha Buca and Nuria Rodrìguez Ortega.

The BSR in the Antipodes

Director Christopher Smith recently embarked on a trip to the other side of the world to reunite with friends and contacts from the BSR's Antipodean community.

Christopher was delighted to participate in the  Politics and Power in the Early Roman Republic (509-264 BC) conference in Auckland, and at the Australian Society for Classical Studies (ASCS) annual conference. However, the trip wasn't all work, and it was fantastic that so many alumni and friends were able to join Christopher and to reunite with old friends at the receptions in Melbourne and Sydney.

The BSR has always been enriched by its Commonwealth connections, particularly in Australia where our ties remain strong. In this year alone our award-holders have included Emlyn Dodd, whose work focuses on Roman viticulture and the provinces (Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar); Camilla Norman (Coleman-Hilton Scholar (University of Sydney)), whose research looks at Daunia from the Bronze Age to the Roman Empire; Australia Council Resident artists Lincoln Austin, Joseph Griffiths and Michelle Ussher; Helpmann Academy Resident Deborah Prior; and National Art School Sydney Resident Margaret Roberts.

RAC in Rome and vineyards at Vagnari
Roman Archaeology Conference 2016 

The BSR was delighted to co-organise the Twelfth Roman Archaeology Conference (RAC) and the 26th Theoretical Roman Archaeology conference in Rome in March.

RAC is the premier Roman archaeology conference, sponsored and supported by the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. This year's conference, with nearly 50 sessions, 600 delegates from over 30 countries, and representatives of 23 UK universities and nine UK museums and archaeological organisations, was a genuinely international occasion and the largest RAC ever held. We were particularly pleased to see many former award-holders and City of Rome students at the conference - we counted over twenty, showing a strong continuity in the careers of our alumni. 

The intellectual range of the conference was deliberately broad. BSR projects were very much in evidence, with the new collaboration with Sapienza, Università di Roma and the University of Groningen to create what will be one of the largest contiguous survey databases in Europe, and the  Portus Limen Project, both being showcased in their own sessions. The two plenary lectures were given by BSR Honorary Fellow Fausto Zevi and BSR Research Professor Simon Keay (pictured above with Christopher Smith). The concluding excursion to Portus itself was led by Simon Keay and Stephen Kay with representatives from the Soprintendenza Speciale per il Colosseo, il MNR e l'Area Archeologia di Roma and the École française de Rome.

It was a richly rewarding opportunity to bring British and international scholars together.

New discoveries at Vagnari

New discoveries at the Vagnari Roman imperial estate mean that this will be a busy and exciting summer for current Hugh Last Fellow Maureen Carroll.

Recent excavations - led by Maureen at the University of Sheffield, and Tracy Prowse at McMaster University, and with the support of the BSR - have uncovered part of the cella vinaria, a wine fermentation and storage room containing three huge vats that were buried underground to keep the wine cool over the fearsome Roman summers.

The site was recently brought to international attention when the new discoveries were featured in Current World Archaeology and the Yorkshire Post .

As she prepares for the upcoming archaeological season at Vagnari, Maureen is also using her time at the BSR to pursue another of her research interests on Roman fertility rites. 


Behind the scenes...
Fuelling creative minds 

Our artists do not have a monopoly on creativity here at the BSR. O ur cooks take pride in fuelling the brilliant minds of the BSR community both materially and creatively. 

This term, Luca (left) dished out an ancient Rome-inspired dinner, complete with authentic pane romano (you can find the recipe here). And we continue to be blown away by Dharma's (right) famous curries, that are guaranteed to see a packed dining hall.

Familiar faces

For current residents who attended the opening of Marco Palmieri's group show Appendici Domestiche in March, a familiar face greeted them on the canvas.

Current Rome Fellow Teresa Kittler was the subject for one of Marco's works, and here she is pictured next to her portrait at T293 Gallery, Rome. We were delighted to hear the news that Teresa will be taking up a position at the Department of the History of Art at the University of York  this autumn.

Follow us on Instagram!

You can find us at britishschoolatrome. Follow, like and comment - it is always great to hear from you. We now have a regular weekly post over on our blog, and many of our lectures are now available online via our YouTube channel.   And remember you can still find us on Facebook and Twitter  too.

Image acknowledgements 
Christopher Smith: Antonio Palmieri. Matthew Fox, Barbara Borg, Stephen Hart: Antonio Palmieri.  A window onto our second century: Angela Catlin. Rogier van der Weyden, The Descent from the Cross, before 1443, oil on panel, 220.5 x 259.5 cm, © Museo Nacional del Prado, deposited by the Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid. William Kentridge in his studio: Marc Shoul. Ross Taylor with Andrew Stahl: Natalie Arrowsmith. Lincluden, near Dumfries by Wiliam Gell (BSR Library Manuscript Collection, MS-WG-5.54). From America to Australasia: BSR friends Tom Hillard and Lea Beness with Christopher and Susan Smith. Fausto Zevi, Simon Keay and Christopher Smith at the Roman Archaeology Conference, March 2016: Stephen Kay. Luca Albanese and Dharma Wijesiriwardana: Christine Martin. Teresa Kittler with her portrait: Michelle Ussher.