BSR News Summer 2015

This has been a wonderful year, with many successes to celebrate. The most monumental moment came just a few days ago when the scaffolding went up around the BSR, and the work on the building began. We owe enormous thanks to the trusts and foundations that have generously supported us. In just a few months we aim to waterproof and insulate the roof, install a new boiler, and make improvements to climate control in the Library and Gallery. Keep an eye on our website and social media for updates.

I am delighted to share with you the names of our recently appointed award-holders who will join us for the 2015-16 academic year. You can find their details, including brief descriptions of their projects, on our website. We look forward to welcoming them over the coming year.

Christopher Smith

20 years of the City of Rome Postgraduate Course

2015 marks the twentieth year of the City of Rome Postgraduate Course. The two-month course is led by the BSR's indefatigable Cary Fellow Robert Coates-Stephens, and gives students from UK universities the most thorough encounter with the ancient city - from its origins to the end of the empire - offered by any institution in Rome.

One of our guest lecturers this year was Carlos Machado, a former City of Rome student himself (2002) as well as a Rome Scholar at the BSR (2005-6), and now a lecturer at the University of St Andrews. See our blog to read what Carlos had to say about his time at the BSR and for a look back at the 2015 course.

Celebrating the Segni Project

Over the past three years the BSR and the Museo Archeologico del Comune di Segni have been conducting a joint research project examining the early history and urbanisation of the Latin colony of Signia, now a beautiful medieval town on the eastern edges on the Monti Lepini, 50 km south of Rome.

In April, BSR Archaeology Officer Stephen Kay and former director of the museum at Segni Francesco Maria Cifarelli gave a public lecture, followed by an exhibition. In addition to archaeological finds from the excavations, photographs by Thomas Ashby and Father Peter Paul Mackey from the BSR Photographic Archive were on display for the first time. This was all complemented by an exhibition of contemporary artworks by project artist Leontina Rotaru, and some local delicacies sponsored by the Comune di Segni were offered to make the evening that little bit more authentic.

Members' event: 'Books and beasts'

Our final BSR at the British Academy evening lecture of this academic year was one of the liveliest in recent memory. On 22 June, a healthy number of Members and others - including several BSR award-holders-elect, as well as 2015 City of Rome course participants - enjoyed a three-handed presentation entitled 'Books and beasts: the anatomy of the textual corpus'.
Caroline Checkley-Scott, Matthew Collins and Stephen Milner brought to life their ongoing collaborative project, in which the humanities and sciences are interwoven: the team are interested in the biological data of the book object itself, analysing the skins on which texts were written and printed .

Those present were left not only with a richer knowledge of the Aldine Press, but with ideas about crowdsourcing data and the multi-authorship of scholarly papers. You can read more about their project on the 'Manutius in Manchester' blog.
Two new grants for the Sustainable Building Project

As Christopher reported above, our Sustainable Building Project (SBP) is now underway. Considering the scope of the project - touching most parts of the structure, from the roof down to the old Library basement - the period of disruption will be relatively short, with the BSR emerging early next year with a building fit for our second century.

We were honoured to have been awarded two new major grants towards the SBP since April: one from The Wolfson Foundation, the other from the Foyle Foundation - both of which rarely make such donations outside the UK. This builds on previous SBP support from The Linbury Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, The Sackler Trust and the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust. This great generosity, combined with our own commitment of resources, means that we can now comprehensively improve our building and reduce our energy and maintenance costs. In practical terms, this will mean a better environment for the Residence and Library, with more money to spend on people.

You can   track our progress via our blog  and other social  media.
BSR Archaeology at Expo 2015
The BSR has long been known for its contribution to the understanding of ancient Etruria. Thanks to Research Fellows Maria Cristina Biella and Roberta Cascino, Geophysics Researcher Sophie Hay and Archaeology Officer Stephen Kay, our work in this field is currently being showcased at Milan Expo 2015 as part of the Etruscans@Expo project.

The BSR's reputation in this area ranges from the pivotal work of Thomas Ashby (BSR Director 1906-25) in 1927, to the South Etruria Survey (1950s-70s) masterminded by John Ward-Perkins (BSR Director 1945-74) to the more recent Tiber Valley Project and our geophysics work at Falerii Novi.

Etruscans@Expo - headed by the Università degli Studi di Milano under the patronage of the  I stituto Nazionale di Studi Etruschi e Italici, the Soprintendenza Archeologia del Lazio e dell'Etruria Meridionale, and the Comitato Scientifico del Comune di Milano - runs until 31 October.

Feeding the empire: the Portus Project at the Ara Pacis

The exhibition Nutrire l'Impero. Storie di alimentazione da Roma e Pompei opened this month just down the road from the BSR at the Museo dell'Ara Pacis. 

Taking the Expo 2015 theme of 'Feeding the Planet', the exhibition tells the history of supply of food during the Roman Empire. Research findings from the BSR and University of Southampton's Portus Project are contributing to this story: the exhibition makes use of multimedia reconstructions of Trajan's harbour produced by the project. You can find out more on the project's website  or by joining the Portus MOOC.

This season's Portus Field School has just finished and we look forward to hearing the results from this year's excavations.


From the Library
New online Library catalogue
The BSR Library might be closed for the summer, but you can now access the catalogue of the collection online via URBiS. The URBiS portal - which the BSR was instrumental in developing - provides coordinated access to resources in the humanities and social sciences through an international library network based in Rome. Via URBiS you can currently access the catalogues of six libraries in Rome: the British School at Rome, Academia Belgica, Accademia di Danimarca, American Academy in Rome, École Française de Rome, and the Svenska Institutet i Rom. 

Please visit and send any feedback at


Ashby and the First World War

When the First World War broke out, the BSR's third Director Thomas Ashby - a pacifist and a conscientious objector - embraced the idea of the medical corps as a way that he could help those hurt in the war without fighting. He therefore joined the first British Red Cross Ambulance Unit for Italy in August 1915. 

100 years on, 25 of Ashby's photographs - digitised from a collection of more than 350 photographic prints relating to the First World War in the BSR Photographic Archive - are being shown in the touring exhibition La Grande Guerra: l'altro volto del coraggio. La Croce Rossa negli scatti inediti di Thomas Ashby organised by the British Embassy in Rome in collaboration with the BSR and Croce Rossa Italiana. The Great War: The Other Side of Courage opened in May at the Galleria Doria Pamphilj and has since been on display at Villa Wolkonsky (residency of the British Embassy) and Sala Santa Rita, a deconsecrated church turned exhibition space.

Fine Arts round-up
News from our Visual Art award-holders

Congratulations to Abbey Fellow in Painting Daniel Sinsel, who has been selected to participate in British Art Show 8 which opens in October 2015. Former award-holder and 2013 Turner Prizewinner Laure Prouvost (Max Mara Resident 2011-12) will also be showing, as well as Hayley Tompkins, who gave an artist's talk at the BSR in 2014.  


If you are in Rome over the summer months, Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture Rowena Harris' first solo show in Italy is at The Gallery Apart. Being both on and within, as I said is open until 30 September and presents Rowena's ongoing research into the relationship between sculpture, object and the human body.



A new theme for our Architecture programme

Meeting Architecture - which examined the relationship and crossover between architecture and a selection of other creative processes - has now come to the end of its two-year run. In the lead-up to its conclusion, the BSR hosted lectures and exhibitions by: artists who are also architectural designers, such as Alfredo Pirri and Thomas Schütte; artists who collaborate with architects, such as Richard Deacon with Eric Parry; and architectural historians examining the political role of architecture (Wouter Vanstiphout) as well as its connection to disciplines such as science and sociology (Jean-Louis Cohen).

But as one strand concludes, so another begins. From autumn 2015, our new theme  Fragment will address issues around the subjects of memory and conflict through lectures and exhibitions by architects, artists and critics. Details will be available on our website from autumn 2015, or you can join our Architecture mailing list here.

Council and alumni news

The 56 th  edition of La Biennale di Venezia is now well under way, and we were delighted that so many of our current Fine Arts award-holders were able to attend the official vernissage during its opening days in May. A major attraction for them was the opportunity to view the work of Helen Sear, current BSR Faculty of the Fine Arts member and former Rome Awardee (1992-3), who was chosen as the official representative of Wales in Venice. 
Ahead of the opening, Helen kindly gave us her time for an interview, in which she told us about the 'intense visual experience' of the Biennale and how she hoped that her locally inspired practice would strike a universal chord. You can find this interview on our blog.
This year's Paul Mellon Centre Rome Fellow Anne Bush dived straight into a residency at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia following her three months at the BSR. Her site-specific installation Contro Spazio: Punti in Aria asks viewers to reconsider tourism and their image of Venice, and is on show until 27 July 2015.



Street Level Photoworks celebrates Creative Future Fellowships
In May, Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow hosted a celebration of the Creative Future Fellowships in creative documentary photography and film-making at the BSR.
Attended by members of the BSR community and by photography and film-making enthusiasts alike, the event included presentations by this year's Fellows Paul James Gomes (pictured, first on the left) and David McCue (first on the right), and former Fellows Angela Catlin and Daniele Sambo (second from right), as well as a screening of Roman Postcards by Tomás Sheridan (second from left).


Royal honours and events

We were delighted to learn that BSR Council members Nicholas Penny and Loyd Grossman had been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. Nicholas, who steps down as Director of the National Gallery this summer, was awarded a knighthood for services to the arts. Loyd received a CBE for services to heritage.

The week following the announcement, we were proud to have been chosen again by the British Embassy to the Holy See to host HM The Queen's Birthday Party. This year's party took Magna Carta as its theme, celebrating the 800th anniversary of an extraordinary document in British and global history, as HM Ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker wrote in his blog.

Cornelia Parker scores a hat-trick

The major solo exhibition of celebrated artist Cornelia Parker (Rome Award Fine Arts 1989-90) at Manchester's Whitworth (Art Fund Museum of the Year 2015) - which included a work she initiated in collaboration with a Nobel Prize-winning scientist - was the star attraction of the museum's re-opening earlier this year.

Her piece Magna Carta (An Embroidery) was commissioned by Oxford's Ruskin School of Art in partnership with the British Library, and also displays a strong collaborative dimension. The hand-stitched replica of the now 800-year-old document's Wikipedia page was produced by a range of volunteers, from professional embroiderers to prisoners, and including such well-known figures as Edward Snowden, Jarvis Cocker and Alan Rusbridger. It is on display at the British Library until 24 July.

Passengers travelling through London's St Pancras International station between now and November will be able to view her work One More Time, which the station co-commissioned in partnership with the Royal Academy of Arts

Catherine Fletcher is a New Generation Thinker

Our congratulations to Catherine Fletcher (Rome Fellow 2009-10), who has been selected as one of the AHRC and BBC Radio 3's New Generation Thinkers for 2015. Catherine is one of ten winners selected from hundreds of applicants to share her cutting-edge research with a wider audience through television and radio.

Building on research she carried out at the BSR, Catherine's project will focus on A lessandro de' Medici. We can't wait to see - and hear - more from her over the next year!

Want to hear more?

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Image acknowledgements 

Christopher Smith: Antonio Palmieri. City of Rome students at Ostia Antica: Ali Hightower. Polychrome mosaic discovered in Piazza Santa Maria, Segni (detail): Segni Project. Stephen Milner at 'Books and beasts': Kirsten Amor. Building works on the tennis court: BSR. Image of  cocci from the Etruscan period: Roberta Cascino. Computer graphic model of Trajan's harbour: Grant Cox / Portus Project. In the Library: Angela Catlin. Thomas Ashby at the Front 1915-18: BSR Photographic Archives. Rowena Harris, Searching for a sense of balance (part 3) 2015 (detail): Roberto Apa.  Installation view of Questions?: Giorgio Benni. Helen Sear,  ...caetera fumus, 2015: Helen Sear. Celebration of Creative Futures BSR Fellowships: Street Level.