BSR News Winter 2017-18

With over 100 days having passed since taking up residence at the BSR with Mirka and Elena, it seems an appropriate moment to look back over the last four months and take stock. From my predecessor Christopher Smith's valedictory lecture at the end of September, which saw no less than four former, current, and future Directors in the BSR at the same time, to February's Rome meetings with Matthew Hancock, the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, there has been a deluge of introductions, meetings, events, and emails. 

Yet amidst the whirlwind, the community of staff and fellows has stood firm. They have welcomed us as a family with a generosity and warmth which has been truly heart-warming, a welcome I have also seen extended to artists, researchers, readers and visitors again and again since our arrival. One of the main priorities of my Directorship is to ensure the BSR continues to welcome and accept all those from across the world who cross the threshold in the name of creativity and scholarship. 

In keeping with the increasing bilateral diplomatic activity between Italy and the UK, I gave my inaugural lecture both at the British Academy in London and at the BSR in Rome. In the context of Brexit it is ever more important that the BSR demonstrates its importance as a key part of the UK's international research base and its role as a catalyst in the arts and creative sector. As we head towards the next Comprehensive Spending Review in 2020, I am optimistic that the BSR is preparing itself to make the best possible case for the future under the guidance of our new Chair of Council, Mark Getty, not only for UK academics and artists but for those from across Europe and the Commonwealth.

Stephen Milner

The BSR hosts leading humanities festival

Being Human is the UK's largest festival of the humanities, led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, and annually holding events across the country.  2017 was the festival's first year of international programming, and the BSR was proud to contribute in collaboration with the British Embassy and British Council. 

The day-long workshop brought together archaeologists, classicists and experts in other fields who are leading the fight to preserve the traces of our past. The scope was far-reaching, with topics as diverse as the recovery of stolen artefacts, the  mapping of endangered archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa and  improving conservation processes via organised training programmes. Our own Professor Simon Keay talked about public engagement initiatives relating to the site of Portus, and the workshop concluded with a short film on migration and movement from the British Council.

Lasting legacies

Thanks to a generous grant from the British Academy in 2017, we were able to hire specialist consultants Gifted Philanthropy to help us shape the BSR's first legacy campaign. This time last year, our Members and former award-holders told us they wanted to learn how they could help ensure our future in this way.

Since then, we have produced a leaflet and met with and heard from many alumni and others whose lives were transformed by a connection with the BSR. Some of these inspirational stories have been filmed and can be viewed on our website; others are in the works.

Our legacy campaign was officially launched by former Director Christopher Smith at his valedictory talk in London in June, at which he announced his and Susan's own bequests. Gifted had advised us to set a goal of £750,000 in pledges by the end of 2017. We were overwhelmed to finish the year having received 16 pledges totalling over £1.5m! We are grateful to everyone who has done so, and are continuing to meet with those who have expressed an interest in leaving a legacy that will transform the lives of so many others.

Plans are also afoot for our '1916 Club', which is fronted by celebrated author and long-time BSR supporter Lindsey Davis. Over the coming year and beyond, the group - to which all those pledging a legacy to the BSR belong - will meet in the UK or Rome to learn more about the BSR's activities.

If you would like to learn more, or speak to someone in confidence, please contact BSR Director Stephen Milner in Rome or Development Director Elizabeth Rabineau in London.

Publications and creative writing
The BSR's inaugural residency in creative writing
In October we welcomed the BSR's first ever creative writing awardee, Pele Cox - the John Murray / Keats-Shelley Memorial Association Creative Writing Resident - who made every minute of her time in Rome count. Bringing together award-holders across disciplines, Pele's weekly poetry workshops were a highlight as she took us from love to death (via exile), encouraged us to look at Dante in different ways, and helped us to think more carefully about the joy and challenges of translation.

Pele's residency was partly taken up at the Keats-Shelley House, where she gave regular poetry workshops and  talks for the public. To round off her time in Rome, Pele worked with Lou True (both pictured above) on a performance of Pele's  The Mistress Account in the BSR's Sainsbury Lecture Theatre.

 Turin and the British in the Age of the Grand Tour
We are delighted that  Turin and the British in the Age of the Grand Tour , edited by Paola Bianchi and Karin Wolfe, has been published in our BSR Studies series with Cambridge University Press. Our thanks are due to the  Consorzio di Valorizzazione Cultura La Venaria Reale , for collaboration on both the book and the conference from which it arose. 

We do still have copies of  Roma Britannica available, if you wish to explore another city on the Grand Tour.

Fine Arts
A boost for the Fine Arts 
As those who attended the BSR's December Mostra will know, this first Fine Arts exhibition of the 2017-18 academic year was a great success, showcasing the creative research our artists and architect undertook during the previous three months. This is but one area of our Fine Arts activity, none of which is covered by our grant from the British Academy.

For that reason, we were incredibly grateful to receive a generous gift from Council member and Ashby patron Robin Hambro to strengthen our Fine Arts activity in 2017-18. Thanks to her - and as a complement to the support of those who sponsor our artists' awards - the BSR has for the first time comprehensive funding for all three mostre, a visiting artist in the spring of 2018, our Fine Arts catalogue and the guidance of our Visual Art Residency and Programme Curator.

We are most grateful to Robin and our award funders, and encourage those who wish to support an aspect of our activity to  contact us.

Pictured above is Director of Tate Maria Balshaw visiting the BSR artists' studios in the autumn.

News from our Sainsbury Scholars
The Sainsbury Scholarship in Painting and Sculpture is one of our long-standing awards, and we have been thrilled to hear of so much activity going on in Rome and further afield by recent Sainsbury Scholars.

Rowena Harris returned to Rome in the autumn with  Soft Boundaries at The Gallery Apart, following the success of her 2015 solo show at the gallery which showed works from her BSR residency. Celia Hempton was back this month for a  solo show at Galleria Lorcan O'Neill  after  appearing in Vogue in January, and Nicholas Hatfull returned to the BSR to give the Felicity Powell Lecture.

Back in the UK around  thirty new works by Thomas Lamb were presented in a solo show at Browse & Darby in November, and Geoff Uglow presented a new series of paintings in  The Rose Garden at Connaught Brown.  John Walter curated the Hayward Touring exhibition  Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness  which explored 'the nature of visual awkwardness'. Candida Powell-Williams' Boredom and its Acid Touch was performed as part of the live section of Frieze London 2017, and Night Plinths with work by Archie Franks recently opened. Over  in New York, Steven MacIver had a solo exhibition at Dillon + Lee.

Following her 2016-17 residency, Catherine Parsonage stayed in Rome to produce works for her first solo show  Convivium at Bosse and Baum, London. The above painting, Alice, was made during Catherine's time at the BSR.

We always like to hear what our alumni are up to, so please contact Natalie Arrowsmith with your news.

Research collaborations in the UK 
Upcoming archaeological collaborations 
The BSR is delighted to be supporting a number of new and ongoing excavations in Italy in 2018. Together with the Ashmolean Museum and King's College London, the BSR will conduct a small season of excavation at the site of the Roman villa at Matrice, aiming to bring to publication a site first investigated by John Lloyd in the early 1980s. 

Together with assisting the ongoing research of the University of Sheffield and McMaster University  at the site of Vagnari in Puglia, the University of Cambridge at Interamna Lirenas, the University of Newcastle's Lateran Project, and the  BSR's own long-term research project with the University of Southampton at Portus, this year the BSR is delighted to be supporting the work of the University of Edinburgh and the Apolline Project at the  Roman town of Aeclanum in inner Campania

We will shortly be publishing details about how to become involved in some of these archaeological projects through their summer field schools.

Glass Study Day at the British Museum
In addition to our regular  BSR at the British Academy  lectures, this autumn the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters and the Faculty of the Fine Arts, led by Rosamond McKitterick and Vivien Lovell, inaugurated an event series exploring the historicity of materials. 

Taking glass as the theme for our first event, our interdisciplinary workshop participants benefitted from a visit to the British Museum's Ceramics, Glass and Metals Conservation Studio and Scientific Research Laboratory, with close-up analysis of artefacts in the galleries and study rooms of the museum.

The afternoon session of public lectures brought together archaeologists, art historians, and artists with topics ranging from glass excavations at the early medieval site of San Vincenzo al Volturno to the role of glass in Venetian visual culture.

Conference registration and call for papers

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Image acknowledgements 
'I am human': Peter Campbell. Pele Cox and Lou True after the performance of The Mistress Account: Michael Snelling. Maria Balshaw visits the artists' studios: Antonio Palmieri. Catherine Parsonage, Alice 2017, 183x122cm acrylic on canvas: courtesy of Bosse and Baum, photo by Damien Griffiths . Students on the Portus Summer School: Stephen Kay. Glass study day at the British Museum: Claire Burridge. Josephine Baker-Heaslip, Chances 2017, mixed media, dimensions variable: photo by Roberto Apa.